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Jaftha’s Flower Farm in Cape Town: A Painful History, A Bright Future

The Jaftha family has worked the soil of Constantia for five generations, producing some of Cape Town’s finest flowers. Their connection to the land is deep, but also fraught, because of the way in which apartheid separated them from it. The unassuming farm is equal parts hardworking horticultural wonderland and a window through which one may glimpse South Africa’s painful history. In 1969, when their father was 25, the family was uprooted. The notorious Group Areas Act, a series of laws designed by the white Nationalist government to divide people not just by color but from their own communities, legalized forced removals. The extended Jaftha family was relocated to new, and separate, barren blocks of flats on the distant and sandy Cape Flats. Today, a recent drought left scars. Cape Town experienced a water crisis from 2015 through 2018 (it was considered over only in 2020), when an extreme drought led to severe water restrictions. The Jafthas lost the bulk of their dahlias. Their red spidery dahlia, once the most prolific and popular flower, now occupies only two rows in bloom.