By Lance Guma
The amazing story of former Zimbabwean journalist turned UK farmer, David Mwanaka, continues to grow. On the 1st of December Mwanaka will open a new and bigger supermarket in Walsall, UK.
Measuring 12 000 square feet at, (19-20 Vicarage Place, Walsall, WS1 3NA) this will be the second shop run by Mwanaka following the success of their first shop in Enfield, London.
Speaking to Nehanda Radio, Mwanaka said; “We thought it’s high time we had a number of products under one roof. We will have a farm shop, butchery, groceries department, hair salon, hair products department, Caribbean restaurant, recruitment agency and a clothes boutique.
“Though we have come to the end of our fresh maize season, we still have plenty of maize till our next fresh maize season around July. We freeze some of our maize fresh on the cob so we can continue selling throughout winter. We also have the usual products like sweet potatoes, fresh groundnuts, pumpkins and in addition we have fresh bambara nuts (nyimo/indlubu).”
“This year we did manage to venture into growing a few more exotic crops like mapudzi/amakhomani and imfe/ipwa. Having started with only ten acres, we have increased our acreage to 150 acres over the years and that has made it possible for us to experiment growing new crops.”
“Our recruitment agency will focus on recruiting maths and science teachers from abroad. We will also have another department that will specialize in supplying nurses and care workers to the health industry in this country.
“Our restaurant will serve Afro Caribbean food with a twist. We are not going to be limited by the term ‘Afro Caribbean.’ Our food will have a touch of many cultures. “All we want is good food on the table. We hope it’s be beginning of a chain of restaurants under the name Jamrocker.
“The hair dressing salon is being run by Mrs Hazel Sango who owns Tete Hazel Hair and Beauty Parlour. They have moved from their Norwich site to team up with us at the West Midlands store. Tete Hazel is well known for being a top stylist in the hairdressing industry.
“We have a whole shop floor set aside for a fashion Boutique. Pastor Cecilia Dewa who runs fashions boutiques in London, notably Finsbury Park is taking up the running of the boutique section. Her Cerrura Fashions is famous for selling among other things, exclusive quality occasion wear. Her boutique is also a one stop wedding shop. We might also be open to anyone who has a good business idea and is looking for a space to run from,” Mwanaka told Nehanda Radio.
Growing white maize in the cold climate of the UK is not an easy task but Mwanaka persevered and spent six years experimenting until he pulled it off. Homesick Zimbabwean exiles frequent his shop to buy rare white maize, pumpkin leaves, rape, choumoellier, tsunga and butternuts, among others.
In 2006 David Mwanaka was one of the only two black farmers in the UK and the first arable black farmers in the country.
What started as Mwanaka growing white maize on a small plot of land in his landlord’s back garden near Tottenham football club in north London has seen his project grow to 150 acres and also supplied large chain supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Harrods in London with some of his produce.
He added a shop ‘Mwanaka Fresh Farm Foods’ in Enfield to sell from. The icing on the cake is the new 12 000 square foot supermarket in Walsall. Nehanda Radio