Blog Page Posts

Posted in Limpopo

South Africa – Thoughts about Small Scale Farmers

Small Scale farmers were faced with uncertainty when the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the lock down, telling everyone to stay at home and restrict the movement of the people to only allow essential services.

The time that the president introduced the Lock Down, it was the exact time of completing the summer crops harvesting and moving to winter crops cultivation. Due to the government introduced Lock Down,  small scale farmers were unable to execute the duties at hand leading to the loss of sources of food and income and, also, interfering with the harvesting and cultivation calendar.

As time goes by, through the advocacy by sympathizers, small scale farmers were later allowed to go back to their fields provided they obtained permits. Even when they had permits, those who depend on retailers for seeds, as many do during winter season here in South Africa, were left wanting since other retailers that provide seeds were still considered non essential until level 4.

Now that small scale farmers have been allowed to work on their fields, there are also efforts by civil societies to provide some measure of relief by purchasing Agricultural produce from farmers which will be distributed to the vulnerable in the community.

Small Scale farmers are battling with a two edged sword, one being to continue with their activities and other being trying to protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus. South Africa is already in the middle of winter and normally people contact Fever and Flu like symptoms, and with the current pandemic, the situation is unpredictable.

South Africa is starting to see an increase in numbers in Covid-19 infections and everyone, especially elderly people, are advised to stay at home.  If the current rate of infections continue for weeks, it might create panic in people even though the lock down is being eased monthly.

This may hamper the effectiveness of Subsistence food production.

Posted in US Specific Blogs

Herb Gardens

One of my first substantial gardens was an herb garden. I love the smell and ease of herbs and am fascinated at the many medicinal properties. That garden soon evolved to add a few flowers, that were also medicinal, then useful, and finally edible.

Being a practical person, today I like to grow things that are useful. Sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s medicianl; I’ve even grown a small patch of flax for an unsuccessful attempt at making linen. In the end, I find herbs to be the workhorse of the garden. They are functional, useful and cheerful to my soul. Three snips from a blooming thyme plant, mixed with butter and spread on even store bought bread, makes me feel like the Julia Childs of my generation.

At Herban Renewal, we are in the very beginning of our first season of developing the gardens. The small urban lot is mostly taken up by the house in the center and giant varieties of hollies which take up most of the space. And while there is currently no dedicated herb garden yet, I find myself tucking herbs here and there, for their ability to repel bugs, thrive in a dry sunny spot, and mostly for their ability to make me smile when I brush by one.

Below are a couple of links for people’s ideas about herb gardens. Personally, I wonder how long some of these ideas can last after a photo shoot with tiny unglazed pots that would crack and dry up with a half of a August afternoon in these parts, but they are pretty and inspiring and maybe you’ll find an idea or two to build upon.

What is your favorite herb? How do you use it? I would love to know.

Posted in General Blogs, Limpopo

Meet Themba

Avuxeni (Greetings).

Since I was introduced into Slow Food Network five years ago, I started developing interests in practical activities of people producing food for their own consumption as well as to sell the surplus to their communities. This has encouraged me to be part of the Slow Food 10 000 gardens project in Africa, and since then we have created over 50 community gardens in Vhembe area, in association with Adopt A River group (an association of people with over 99% women representatives who voluntarily collect garbage to clean their community, water ways and river banks for better environment). I have been the coordinator of the Slow Food 10 000 gardens project in Africa in Limpopo (South Africa), since then.  

Apart from that, I have been engaged in policy platform nationally, continentally and even globally with the Landless Peoples Movement of South Africa since 2011. I have participated in policy debate platforms led by the South African Government under the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform including Civil Society Mechanism Platforms.  I also had an opportunity to participate in the United Nations on the Declaration of Peasants Rights and Other people working in Rural Areas, in Geneva, Switzerland, for over six years until it was adopted in New York in my absentia in 2018 due to other logistical issues.  

With Mahala Love, we are going to complement the already work done on the ground and ensure that initiated projects are sustained through skills development and other programs that will benefit the community.

Food production is not a once off thing, it is a continuous practice that need everyone in the world to play an important role, and there is a need for continuous support (Technical, Financial, Emotional, skills training etc) in community projects and Mahala love is here for that.

In reality, we cannot end poverty, but we can end hunger and the only way we can eradicate hunger and malnutrition is by affording the community the opportunities to grow their own food and place resources at their disposal and we want Mahala Love to be the vehicle to achieve this goal.

There is still much work to be done on the ground and by walking together we will go extra miles.

Inkomu (Thank you)

Posted in General Blogs, US Specific Blogs

Herban Renewal – the overall plan

Herban Renewal is a micro intensive urban homestead.  Although it is a stand alone facility, it is part of the larger structure of Mahala Love. Herban Renewal will be used as a teaching base and demonstration garden for Mahala Love, as well as serving to provide food and income for the family living onsite and a small community of people who visit.

Herban Renewal is three blocks outside the Central Business District in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. It is within walking distance of the local downtown shops, restaurants, and the seasonal farmers market.  The south entrance is located on a broad main thoroughfare with on-street parking, and slow consistent traffic from locals.

The location is a typical urban corner lot with a house occupying the bulk of the center.  Unique to the property are an enclosed large pool area with retractable roof panels, a west facing glassed in porch, a flat roof top porch, small concrete patio, and yard that has been divided into 7 separate areas based on environmental conditions or hardscape features.

A mobile “chicken tractor”  houses the small flock of chickens with chicken tunnels to be implemented later in the season, The tunnels will allow chickens to have adequate leg room and more access to insects throughout the gardens. A test vermicompost  structure is active housing 2000 red wigglers. A prototype aquaponics systems is housed in the enclosed pool area, consisting of 11 comet goldfish and a combination fill and drain and deep water culture bed. As the effectiveness of these is determined, more systems will be added.

Although we have no plans to obtain an organic certification, all methods will be organic.  Permaculture and regenerative methodologies will be implemented with the goal to reduce inputs required each year.  Inputs will be tracked and compared annually.

Products will consist of tangible and intangible products.  Tangibles will include micro greens, salad foods, and eventually eggs, fruits, berries and hazelnuts.  Value added products will include herbal vinegars, dried herbs, plants and more.

Intangible products will be online video classes, and on-site workshops. Formal consulting for MicroIntensive gardening startups will be available starting year 2 and informal knowledge sharing available always. A Community Supported Agriculture, (CSA) style package consisting of both tangible and intangible products will be offered starting Year 2.

Homestead skill classes will be offered at Herban Renewal. Courses such as herbal vinegars, hot sauces, medicinal tinctures, vermicompost, small scale aquaponics and more will be offered. Initially we will offer 1 course per month starting in July.  If the Coronavirus continues to be an issue, courses will be offered online only. Some courses will be outsourced to bring in a deeper skill set, and others will be taught by Herban Renewal staff. 

Beginning in Year 2, consulting will be offered for other start ups. Internships through Mahala Love will also begin in year 2. Travel-based project trips through Mahala Love, will use Herban Renewal as a training base.  The income structure from this has yet to be determined.

Production  and quality manuals will be created and used to provide reliable turn key systems as well as track product quality.

Implemetation Schedule:

Year 1, 2020, April – June:  Installment of permaculture plantings.  Rose hedge, fruit trees, berries and bushes to be planted.  Initial aquaponics system built, vermicompost box expanded, compost started.  Overall design to be drafted.  Business plan completed. Research possible Co-ops or other value added business models.  Implement as many space intensive plantings as possible to tend. Make and sell sprouted bread, sourdough products and possibly micro greens and mushrooms. 

June – August: Begin harvest.  Schedule first two classes online. Begin to preserve food. Continue filming and creating manuals with all processes. 

Fall: Continue monthly online classes. Harvest, preserve, expand, Put together CSA packages to start in February. Film, continue manuals, Rinse and Repeat.

Marketing will be determined as the business plan progresses. Initial year’s marketing will be word of mouth and social media advertising.

Introduction to MGC

My name is Cinderella working at Musawenkosi Christian Academy, previously named Mukhanyo Christian Academy, school for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.
I started working at the school in September 2016, until now. I am working as an Administrator and teaching Bible lessons to 4th – 7th Grade learners. I really love this school, as it is not just a school, but a Ministry to serve the Lord. It gave me an opportunity to share God’s love with these wonderful children.

We always want the best for them like living and eating healthier. I am glad I met a friend from USA, Robin Kelly-Goss, who came with an idea of a garden to feed our children, parents and community with fresh vegetables. 🥬🥦🥒. We worked on it and started it together with our learners, parents and community members. It went well and was named Musawenkosi Garden of Christ.
With the struggling of water we have worked hard and managed to harvest spinach, beetroot, broccoli, onion, turnip, chilli,.. It was awsome. 😄.. We had a big water challenge and kept on going and though it was a slow process. People got discouraged with the challenge, but some of us kept going. Currently we have planned for electricity installation, water pump and borehole fixing. We thank God, as we have received donation from USA which will cover some of our plans.
We are waiting for a lockdown level where it will allow us to continue with all the installations and continue with our work. Our next plan is to involve learners, to teach them that God has given everyone an authority to rule over His Creation. They have to rule over God’s land and bring life from it. We have 30 learners who are involved in the garden now. Hopefully, God will make a way.

Posted in SA Specific Blogs, Uncategorized

Greetings from Giyani

Avuxeni (Greetings)

The current pandemic of Covid-19, has taught us that saving for tomorrow can save lives. When countries start to implement “Stay Home/Lock Down,” we witnessed millions of people from around the world flooding the retailers through panic buying since they have power to purchase.

Those that have no power to purchase were left helplessly watching those that were buying more than what they need, due to panic buying.

A lesson we learnt from this pandemic is that people need to be taught to be self-sufficient. Subsistence farming has been a way of life for decades, if not centuries, up until recently when people have to depend on retailers for their food supply.

The fault line was noticed a week or two after lockdown, that there are millions of people living below the poverty line. Governments from around the world tried to distribute the food parcels to the needy people, but there was not enough to be distributed to everyone in need.

The fault line has taught us that we need to encourage people to start growing food for self-sufficiency. As the proverb says, “instead of giving a man a fish to eat for a day, you better teach him how to fish.” This is why Mahala Love exists. We want to go to the most vulnerable people and teach them the basics to grow food sustainably, using resources available in their respective area,

It is possible. We will win.

Inkomu (Thank You)

Posted in General Blogs

Happy Mother’s Day

I wanted to wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day, whether you are a Mother, in the formal sense of the word or not. Regardless of your status, we all have, or had, a mother at some point. It is a great day to be reflective of the gifts we have in this life – gifts of birth mothers, step mothers, friend’s mothers, mother-in-laws or you can always reflect on Mother Earth if you’re struggling in the other categories.

I thank all the strong women in my life. I have been blessed with several and am equally blessed to be raising a couple more. I have always felt that whatever age my kids are, it is my favorite. My children, (I have four by birth and a couple more by heart), most are adults or young adults at this point. I find each one complex and fascinating. Although the Lockdown of 2020 has been stressful for many, I have truly cherished the slowing down of my life and having my kids around more. I am so grateful for a 15 minute conversation when they blurt out something or they process an idea or they just explain something for the 5th time because they are sure I can’t possibly understand. I see with great pride the kind hearts and sharp minds they each possess and I anticipate their futures.

So Happy Mother’s Day to us all. May you have peaceful days and take the time to focus on the good amidst all else that may be going on.