Posts tagged Foodsecurity
A Space of Environmental Awareness and Greenery

Arranged by Balance the Future PTY Ltd, for Mandela Day this year, CWBR joined with a voluntary team from Taquanta again. The project was to revamp the outdoor space in Noah Old Age Home. Through team work, the garden has been filled with vegetable seedlings, herbs and colourful flowers. The surrounding walls and flower pots have been painted, a wormery has been built and installed, and the weathered memorial bench has been sanded and varnished. A new, spacious garden for the residents to take a stroll in and enjoy has been created. The veggies, once grown to full size, will feed the community through both NOAH Take Away and the community kitchen.

Everyone was treated to muffins, coffee and tea by NOAH after the planting had been done.

Through CWBR’s assistance with budget and finding a local landscaping maintenance company to keep the garden flourishing, Taquanta’s sponsorship has been extended to a year of monthly follow-ups. The Old Age home has also sourced a volunteer with green fingers to do the weekly upkeep of the garden. CWBR will visit with more seedlings and regular follow-ups to see how the garden is progressing.

The first visit to the garden, which was green and wild though in need of helping hands and continuous care. CWBR with the landscaping and maintenance team revitalizing the garden, making it ready for Mandela Day.

CWBR preparing the garden, mixing mulch into the soil and placing trays of seedlings ready for Taquanta to plant. Taquanta volunteer painting the pots white and green to give them a fresh new look.

Flowers and seedling planting. CWBR team member finds a caterpillar while planting flowers.

Community of Veggie Gardens in Kayamani
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For Mandela Day last year, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve joined ChangeAbility and Taquanta Investment Holdings in installing vegetable gardens at five homes belonging to people with disabilities in Kayamandi. The partnership continued with four more on-site workshops throughout the year, with the latest one taking place past Wednesday. Here knowledge, victories, and overcoming the challenges in growing a food garden in conditions which seem at first not possible were shared. 

An ongoing programme in Cape Winelands Biosphere, is to educate and empower people to maintain home-grown foods and make use of their surrounding area at home, whether it is sparse of water or space. This programme focuses on sustainable food security, nutrition for healthy living, being water-conscious, and community involvement. CWBR has been running workshops and talks and through this programme actively exchanged and shared knowledge. 

Taquanta, for their 64 minutes on Mandela Day, approached ChangeAbility in 2018 to sponsor the Kayamandi food garden community project for people with disabilities. ChangeAbility, a non-profit organization who pioneer programmes to encourage more inclusive communities for people with disabilities, brought together a big team of helpers from Taquanta and approached CWBR to run the first horticultural workshop of their programme. 

The initial workshop was received so well that the programme was extended from two follow up workshops over two months to four follow up workshops and three additional visits throughout 2018 ensuring additional intervention in the gardens, sustainability of the project, and ongoing support to the community until they have a self-sustainable food-producing garden. 

Each garden, with its own environment, came with its own advantages and challenges for each participant. From learning to utilize small spaces and upcycling of waste materials to having potential for a large garden on grassy hills once the area has been prepared once more seedlings were populated from the initial planting. The support network amongst the families offered a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences in their different gardens, to share amongst themselves and their community in assisting each other and overcoming physical disadvantages. 

Both the volunteers and participants were surprised to find out that not much is needed to build and grow a food garden. The project started off with upcycled material including wooden planting boxes, buckets, ice-cream tubs, newspaper, compost, and lots of seed produced by CWBR hub ranging from beans, spinach, tomatoes, beetroot, squash, and even potatoes. These were plants requested by the group.

    

On each visit, there was sharing of ideas and support amongst the gardeners and CWBR and volunteers. One garden with its first round, did exceptionally well, and produced an abundance seedling. These were shared with the ones who did not have such good fortune with their seedlings at the start. Veggies have also been shared amongst the neighbours and one of the homes has started a small tree nursery.

On this last visit, it was evident that the heat, drought, and water restrictions had affected the productivity of the gardens over the Christmas period. However, this is not a setback, but a learning experience for everyone. Each garden has been provided with additional compost, seedlings, mulch,  and more planting materials to kickstart their garden again in the next workshop. 

We look forward to our next visit and am thankful for the partnership with ChangeAbility and the sponsorship from Taquanta Investment Holdings.

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Liezel NicholasFoodsecurity
Families bonding over veggies

The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve's team spent two fantastic days in Bonnievale alongside the Bonnie People ECD School Project. The goal was to consult Bonnievale's informal settlement community about their food needs and share methods with them on how to maintain or establish a healthy and productive garden.

 Garden work was performed on the school's existing beautiful garden: compost heaps, vegetable/fruit planting and building of a worm farm. The team then went on to the home gardens of each participants to either try to improve it or start it from scratch using seeds and seedlings brought along by the CWBR.

Mark Heistein and his team of volunteers, Carlo and Thomas, were thrilled to exchange ideas with such enthusiastic children and adults who were all extremely interested and passionate about having their own vegetable garden. The children, adults and families who joined us on our two days mission were all given 1 lemon tree, 1 raspberry tree, cabbage, beans, tomatoes watermelon and pumpkin seedlings, as well as onion, sweet melon, pumpkin, and beans seeds to plant in their own gardens.

EMPOWERING PEOPLE TO CREATE THEIR OWN FOOD SOURCE

A year ago, the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve embarked on a program to educate and empower people to create their own food source.  This project entails planting food bearing trees and vegetable gardens in informal settlements, schools, rural areas and anywhere else where food is scarce. This is done through consultation with the communities to establish what their needs are, and what foods  they prefer to eat, which does differ from community to community. The communities, where necessary, are informed on the best methods to ensure plant survival, many however come from farming backgrounds and teach us. All recipients dig the hole and prepare the soil themselves.

The effect of these projects go way beyond food security alone. Building vertical gardens with palets against the walls of a shack can keep the temperature down during hot summers. It can also keep the goats from eating the growing vegetables/fruits as these become too high to reach. Granadilla creepers, for instance, not only supply vitamins and other nutrients, but form hedges which can define the properties, have fantastic flowers and stop children damaging themselves on razor wire fences. Trees are bearing fruits and have supplied nesting areas for birds, shade for people to sit under and create a “spirit of place” where people feel proud of how they have changed their own circumstances.

BONNIE PEOPLE ECD SCHOOL PROJECT

Bonnie People is a community development project in Bonnievale, Western Cape, South Africa, supported by Luxembourg. Its aim is to assist the inhabitants of an informal settlement situated in a little valley on the edge of Bonnievale. The project invests in the needs of the children and acts as "guardian" for children of the squatter camp". The project's staff and children also grow healthy vegetables naturally in an ever-thriving garden that has inspired many passers-by from the settlement to start their own food-growing garden outside their homes. Aly Zeinman, previous chairman of the Bonnie People Project who was recently replaced by Francis Faber, joined during these two days working in the settlement's gardens to witness the developments since his last visit in March 2015.

More information about Bonnie-People: http://www.bonniepeople.co.za/ or http://bonnievale.org/ 

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Celine MacdonaldFoodsecurity
Ultimate Living Centre
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"Diversity isn't involved so much with the number of elements in a system as it is with the number of functional connections between these elements. Diversity is not the number of things, but the number of ways in which things work."

"What are the strategies by which we don't need agriculture? Agriculture is a destructive system. Well, we need a lot more gardeners. Gardeners are the most productive, most hands-on sort of agriculturists ‘

The Ultimate Living Centre is in the process of being developed as a place of connection, between Man and Nature - a place where people from all walks of life can feel, smell, and interact with soil and plants that are so essential for healthy living; a place where it is shown that roof tops, shack yards and walls, discarded packaging, and even poles can become the host to fascinating ecosystems; a place where worms produce the very medium that allows the food forests to grow.

The program is created in a series of disused pig sties, each measuring 4m x 5m, which is about the size of an average informal settlement plot. Different huts are being built, to show alternatives to corrugated iron, and are then surrounded with different ways of producing food within this confined area. The huts themselves are all based on using different available material at the same cost as an average corrugated iron hut, but resulting in a far more comfortable and dignified living environment.

The fact that the project is being created on a concrete base, makes it a perfect example of what can happen on city rooftops, existing cemented yards, abandoned industrial sites and anywhere else where the natural ground is covered.

Locals and volunteers from all over the world are encouraged (and have started) to come and enjoy the interaction and sense of giving, the sharing of cultures, the passion for nature, and learning how to produce their own food anywhere. In doing so they come to realize the essential elements of sustainability and how many forms of “waste” should rather be looked at as undiscovered assets.

Although Home should be the initial place of learning, this is unfortunately not always the case in some modern cramped communities, so we hope, that for some, by experiencing the Ultimate Living Centre, we are able to fill some of this gap.

The aim of The Ultimate Living Centre is to increase awareness of how Man can live in harmony with Nature, not only in rural areas but in cities as well.

This is done by exposing children and adults to the following:

  • Worm farming – worms are Nature’s composters. Their castings contain ten times the nutrients than what they consume. The worm tea, when sprayed on plants makes a fantastic foliage feed as well as an insect repellant. The microorganisms in the castings and the tea are what boost the plant’s growth and immune system.

  • Mushroom growing – Logs from alien timber such a gum trees, is kept for two weeks until its own fungi repellent becomes dormant. Holes are then drilled into the log, where a wooden plug is inserted, which has been impregnated with Shitake Mushroom spawn, the hole is then covered with wax. It is then just a matter of time before the log will produce a healthy crop of mushrooms, full of minerals and vitamins. The plugs and logs can be ordered through the Ultimate Living Centre.

  • Aquaponics – This is a method of growing plants without soil. The plant is floated on top of the water, in containers, with the roots hanging in the water. Fish are kept in the water and it is their excrement which supplies the nutrients for the plants.

  • Square foot gardening - very simply put, Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is growing vegetables and fruits for the table even with the smallest of gardens. The system adapts easily to all levels of experience, physical ability, and geographical location. You can now grow all you want and need in about 20% of the space of a conventional vegetable garden. Saving time, water, and energy. As the plants are grown in containers, it allows food production anywhere. The mix of plants chosen, allows food to be produced all year round.

  • Roof and vertical wall gardening- not everyone has the advantage of having a garden, this however should not deter them from growing their own food. Roofs and walls make perfect areas to grow vegetables in containers, old pallets, discarded bottles or anything that can hold soil or other growing mediums.

  • How to make mini greenhouses – old shower doors, reclaimed windows, or see through plastic, are all used to make mini greenhouses, allowing most vegetables to be grown all year round.

  • Productive use of alien plants - the Government Working for Water project addresses alien vegetation in riparian zones, resulting in the problem of what to do with the extracted timber. At The Ultimate Living Centre we show ways to make use of it. This includes building log cabins, manufacturing furniture, coffins and grow-bins, composting and mushroom farming.

  • Recycling – various forms of recycling are experimented with and displayed at the centre.

  • Composting techniques – various forms of hot and cold composting are on display, and form part of the program taught to children and the public. This has become part of the regular talks and lectures which began in September

  • Different affordable building techniques – experimentation is taking place to find new and innovative building methods that are affordable, comfortable and have architectural and engineering integrity.

As further resources become available, additional displays and educational material will be added.

  • Alternative energies – it is envisaged that the ULC will become a one-stop, alternative energy hub, where products from a variety of alternative energy companies will be on display and working. This will allow the public and first time home builders to compare products in working conditions.

  • Water recycling – over the next couple of months, various methods of water recycling will be added to the displays

The Ultimate Living Center is also home to the nursery which produces and stores thousands of food bearing trees and vegetables which are distributed free to those in need of food security. (See article on The Peoples Food Forest)

The ULC offers an interactive education program through which eco education is achieved through interaction and physical activities. This has already been visited by hundreds of children, bussed in from the surrounding schools.

The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, Simonsberg Conservancy, Eco Schools, Dream SA, Landcare, many local and international volunteers and the owners of Delvera Agri Village work together to achieve a very unique program, which does not only address the real problems of food security, but has created a network of likeminded people who have a common goal.

In this process, many entrepreneurs who needed mentoring, exposure and networks to get off the ground , have become part of the ‘ Family’ and are achieving results beyond their expectations.