Using farmer surveys the smallholder commodity systems of Brassica rapa L. subsp. chinensis and Solanum retroflexum Dun. in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province, South Africa were described and analysed. Production, transaction and consumption of the two vegetables were deeply embedded in the food, trade and farming systems of local people. The cultivation systems, which appeared effective, were developed by borrowing elements from the systems of other crops to which new knowledge specific to B. chinensis and S. retroflexum were added. Several elements of the production systems that could benefit from scientific enquiry were identified. These included genetic improvement and the optimisation of planting density and nutrient supply.