The beginning of 2023 has brought many adventures – Getting married being one of them! I am so happy to introduce Sam to the picture here at Mahala Love, not to mention to my life all around! He is funny, organized, and loves to do projects. He is a great asset to ML!
We had a combination Mahala Love working trip and honeymoon in South Africa in March. Sam got the crash course in people, food, places and our projects there. Except for the fact that he is very tall and South Africa shovels are perilously short, it was a great fit!
Together, Sam and I worked on the Seed library with Themba in Limpopo (see that page), met with Cinderella to design the new permaculture garden at the beautiful new school location, (See ML-South Africa, Mpumalanga) and did a little touristy sight seeing.
The trip was fantastic and never long enough. But September will be here soon enough and we can continue our work there. In the meantime, those locations are in very competent hands and the work continues there while we continue to work here.
Where to begin updating you on Herban Renewal – After a pretty productive lock-down period of installing gardens, trying a few hugelculture beds, testing aquaponics, setting up the vermiculture, getting our chickens set up and starting to lay, we did the next logical thing and decided to sell the Herban Renewal property in town! Yep.
However, after finding Buyers, then finding another property, things just didn’t go as planned. The house was packed into boxes, utilities were set to switch, many, many plans were made. Also, there were the way-too-many plants and seeds ordered and hatching eggs set to deliver, the sketches of raised beds and food forests, all in anticipation of a few acres and a couple of awesome out buildings, and then, on the final day, –(cue dramatic music) things…fell … apart.
You could say I was a bit shook, but I am a big believer that things work as they should. What has been unsettling is my lack of ability to decide if I wanted to stay put or move. The plants and hatching eggs arrived because I couldnt bring myself to cancel them. The plants made lovely gifts and egg hatching is always fun, even though I was not planning to have 30 plus chickens in my laundry room. But we hatched them because, well, because we could. There is nothing as fun as the anticipation and hearing those little eggs when they begin to peep. And the chicks are also delightful for about the first week. They continue to be delightful, but their odor inside your home – not so much.
Now here we are at the beginning of fall and we continue to live in our home and it’s still not for sale. So I am publicly declaring – I’m going to stay put!! Let fall planting begin.
The word regenerative kept popping up, as things will do when something resonates with you. I was telling my kid’s dad that my goal has always been to create a regenerative home and life for our family. He asked me to explain and here is part of my reply.
Regenerative- practices that create abundance; Actions and thoughts that leave you full rather than depleted, Time spent rejuvenating energy, mind, and soul. Time spent with family developing bonds, ideas, and support. Creating a place where people can develop their next level thinking and plan their futures based on their hearts, not on needing to chase the dollar.
The whole permaculture design concept is about this. Permaculture is not just about how to plant a garden, it is about using regenerative practices in your life, for the benefit of yourself, others and the planet. Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share – in its simplest terms. It’s a systemic design process using natural patterns and rhythms to create abundance- food, joy, community, habitat.
It is definitely taking some stretching in my mind to move these ideas from the garden into daily life, and it’s a process I have barely consciously tapped, as of yet. But as the word, “regenerative” continues to resonate with me, I will continue to bring it into the daily life of myself, my family, and my community.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you do this? What are ways you see to be regenerative in your relationships with others and the planet? 😊
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.
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.
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.