Last week, from 9-13 May, field assistant representatives from each of Mpilonhle’s 12 schools attended an introductory permaculture and organic gardening training held by African Conservation Trust and Manukelana Art & Nursery in Dukuduku. Grassroot Soccer Intern Tim Grose and Peace Corps Volunteer Claire Tindula worked with Social Worker Sne Mofu to organize the training and were also attendees.
“Permaculture,” a combination of the words “permanent” and “agriculture,” is a style of agriculture designed to be more sustainable and to work in harmony with natural ecosystems. Organic gardening/farming operates without making use of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Over the course of the five-day training, attendees received theoretical and practical instruction on a number of permaculture and organic gardening methods and techniques, including planting bed design, intercropping and companion planting, water retention and composting. When used together, these methods will help the gardeners to build up and maintain the health of the soil, plants, vegetables, and the natural environment.
The training was organized as part of Mpilonhle’s food security program, one branch of which provides food parcels to vulnerable learners at the high schools. The second branch of the program will consist of the development of food gardens in each of the schools, to be worked on and maintained by the field assistants, educators, and learners. The food produced will then be distributed to learners in need of nutritional support. The gardens will hopefully also serve as demonstration plots whereby community members can learn about these new, more sustainable methods. Overall, the goal is to empower people to develop skills and new techniques in order to increase their access to nutritional foods and maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle, while also working with the earth and protecting its natural resources.
Thank you again to everyone who participated in and hosted us for the training. Look for more gardening updates in the future as the program develops!