Food garden celebration at Khayelitsha Special School

Over the last year and a half learners at the Khayelitsha Special School, with the help of ConVista, have had the opportunity to learn permaculture food gardening skills.  In early June they launched their garden which signifies the culmination of everything they have learnt.

The Khayelitsha Special School, the first black school of its kind in South Africa, caters for 420 special needs children from the local vicinity that have various physical and mental disabilities. Facilitated by Food & Trees for Africa, and under the supervision of dedicated educators, the children have now learned skills that will last them a lifetime, basic, effective and simple teachings that are relative to life as well as the garden.

The children loved the practical and healthy work in the garden.  The garden was developed around permaculture design principles that maximises production as well as aid in sustainable use of water and soils.  The garden can therefore provide the feeding scheme at the school and learners are also receiving cooking lessons to prepare healthier meals.

Kirsten Zsilavecz, one of my FTFA permaculture facilitator commented that this is a good model of the Chinese proverb: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime’.  And in this case we are teaching the school community to grow so that they can eat for a lifetime.

The amazing thing about permaculture is it will also satisfy its own requirements for soil fertility and seed, wind protection and waste management.  A worm farm is used to turn kitchen waste into extremely high value soil, as well as supplying liquid fertili-tea which is applied when watering the garden.  Trees have also been planted to create a wind break, and indigenous medicinal plants will attract insects and birds and supply bio-mass for the compost pile.

In terms of maintaining the garden, we taught the children to leave some of the vegetable plants to seed, and to collect and use them for subsequent planting which overall reduces maintenance costs.

Trees to bring biodiversity to Langa

Thanks to the wonderful support from kulula fans, 3 000 trees are already in the ground and doing their thing to bring back the birds and the bees to the communities of Tembisa and Mt Moriah.

The International Day for Biological Diversity was launched by the United Nations on the 22 May of this year.  The aim is to increase our understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. In short biodiversity is a measure of the wellbeing of ecosystems, the Earth, our home. With increasing urbanisation worldwide, biodiversity has steadily been dropping, most likely due to the destruction of habitats.  Can you believe that almost 18 000 species have gone extinct this year alone? 

The theme for this year is forest biodiversity, which is fitting seeing as 2011 is the International Year of the Forests.  It therefore seems appropriate that in a time where 1.5 million hectares of forest are lost per annum, kulula and FTFA team up to plant over 100 hectares of urban forest in disadvantaged areas around South Africa.

kulula fans raised an amazing R1 million to support FTFA’s efforts to respond to climate change and improve environments, especially for the poor.  This was achieved through kulula’s Project Green Programme, which aims to combat the atmospheric carbon loads and greenhouse gases released by their aircraft.

By February 2009 Project Green had planted 2009 trees.  Now, thanks to the thousands of kulula fans who contributed money every time they flew, thousands more trees and hectares of bamboo will be planted for disadvantaged communities this year.

The residents of Langa were very excited to have been chosen as one of the recipient communities of the kulula Trees for Homes project and received their trees on the 27 and 28 May in celebration of the International Day of Biodiversity.

Check out My Trees; it is a new mobile phone site supported by kulula that allows users to calculate their carbon footprint and neutralise this through the planting of trees.

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