2014 – Take Root Seedling Growing System

urban ag / industrial design / UJ / appropriate technology / irrigation / small-scale farming / seedling growing

The Design of a Seedling Growing System for Small-scale Urban Farmers in Soweto

Jomari Budricks, BTech Industrial Design, 2014.
Supervised by Angus D. Campbell & Dr. Naudé Malan

This project focused on the design of seedling growing system for small-scale urban farming. The design and research was based on the problem that farmers struggle with growing seedlings as a result of lack of resources and technology that is specific to their needs. Using participatory design methods a product was designed that is both fully functioning and is suited to the participants. The design process explored how to incorporate all design considerations such as modularity, portability, protection against pests and extreme weather and easy watering into one complete, well-functioning system. The design and research was consistently undertaken with the active involvement of participants throughout the process. This refers to the research methodology of Participatory Action Research where designers design with participants rather than designing for participants. This study formed part of the broader Izindaba Zokudla project which aims at uncovering issues surrounding small-scale urban farming in Soweto through discussions and conversations with actively involved participants.


This work is based on research supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa for the Thuthuka, unique grant number 88030 held by Angus D. Campbell and titled, Designing Development: An Exploration of Technology Innovation by Small-Scale Urban Farmers in Johannesburg, and unique grant number 88059 held by Dr. Naudé Malan and titled, Innovation in the Soweto Food System: Engaging with Soweto Agriculture. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material are that of the authors, and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.


Campbell, A.D. & Malan, N. 2017 (forthcoming). Izindaba Zokudla (Conversations About Food): Innovation in the Soweto Food System. In, Abendroth, L.M. & Bell, B. (Eds.) Public Interest Design Education Guidebook: Curricula, Strategies, and SEED Academic Case Studies. London: Routledge.

Malan, N., Campbell, A.D., Sibeko, J., van Zyl, C. & Benecke, R. 2015. Service Learning for Food Security: The Izindaba Zokudla Experience. The Fourth Conference of the South African Development Studies Association (2015): Development in Troubled Times. Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Oct 12.

Budricks, N., Campbell, A.D., & Malan, N. 2014. A Seedling Growing System, ZA Provisional Patent 2014/08658.

Budricks, J. 2014. The Design of a Seedling Growing System for Small-scale Urban Farmers in Soweto. BTech Industrial Design Mini-Dissertation. University of Johannesburg. (2.5Mb)

Project exhibited at Design to Feed the World Cumulus Permanent Workshop and Exhibition. Sala Messina 2, Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan, Italy. 7-30 June 2015.

Project featured in book: Di Lucchio, L. & Imbesi, L. (Eds) 2015. Design to Feed the World: 10 Projects, 50 Schools, 5 Topics. Milan: RDesignPress. pp. 144, 153-154, 181, 193-194, & 200. ISBN: 978-888981948-7.

Jomari’s blog which she authored during the field work of the project can be accessed here