Posted in General Blogs, US Specific Blogs

The Mulch Patch

May is winding down. The weather has been much cooler than most recent Mays and we have had some really hard rains followed by no rain. The garden beds are slowly taking shape and a variety of experiments, which are completely unscientific, are succeeding, or not. Overall, the growth seems slow and tedious for the plants, but the mulch paths are growing a little more every day. Maybe it’s like the watched pot problem and if I don’t look for a few days, big healthy plants will appear.


I’ve been doing a ton of reading, watching videos, digging through old books and general planning. The topics that I’ve dug into most deeply are mushrooms, Microgreens, permaculture, and food preservation. These are all topics I’ve looked at and tried out to various degrees, so it’s nice to circle back around for a deeper dive.

The first of 2 shipments of plants have arrived. Some people might just think they are tiny brown sticks, but I can imagine the Spice bushes, Lindera benzoin, hazelnuts, Corylus americana, and roses, Rosa rugosa, they will all become. The spice bush leaves serve as tea and the berries are edible, dried and fresh. The Hazels produce hazelnuts or filbert. Can you say homemade Nutella?!, I mean healthy protein! The Roses are for teas, fragrance, and Vitamin C from the hips. I once made rose petal jam; it smelled lovely, but it came out more like a hard candy that I couldn’t get out of the jar once it solidified.


Most days I feel more like I am cultivating patches of mulch than an actual garden, but I know once the heat arrives most of these plants will explode! Here are a few pictures of the ever growing mulch patch and if you zoom in closely, you might even see a few plants.

Posted in General Blogs, Limpopo

Meet Themba

Avuxeni (Greetings).

Since I was introduced into Slow Food Network five years ago (2015), 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 needs 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 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.

Posted in General Blogs

Mahala Love is…

The word “mahala” is found in many languages throughout the world in various forms. It translates to love, freedom, community, neighborhood or free. It comes from Arabic, Cherokee, Polynesian, Zulu and likely more.

The project comes from a desire to share knowledge (love others), to remember cultural roots (community), to provide for ourselves (freedom) and to give to others (free). Mahala is a perfect name for an imperfect project.