Moeketsi Mohlakoana is a graduate of our Permaculture Grassroots introductory course. When he failed to mobilise other graduates from his course to practice what they learned on a larger scale, he decided to go full out and do it by himself. He approached us at Waaipoort Farm and we dedicated a 2 HA area of land to grow a crop.
He organised a friendly neighbour to disk the land in early October and then proceeded to plant hundreds of pumpkin and butternut seeds.
We helped to intercrop with cow peas, velvet beans, lentils, chickpeas and heritage corn.
This was a very difficult growing season as we had very little rain over the main summer months. Moeketsi persevered with the help of his family and composted each plant (with our kraal compost), collected water from our dam and watered by hand the whole field.
This dedication paid dividends as he has already harvested a few bakkie loads of produce, sold some to green grocers in Bethlehem and locally.
His generosity of spirit and action showed when last week he shared out a whole bakkie load full of odd-sized fruit to the local Mautse community.
Now we are planning for a winter crop and how we will expand in the coming summer season!
We've been experimenting with a few earth bag buildings in the past - the compost toilet shelter, the shower spiral, our future fire pit... So this time we built an actual earth bag dome as per Nader Khalili (www.calearth.org ). We employed three youths from the surrounding farm with the view of training them as part of the team to build many more of those structures for our volunteers and hopefully also to inspire a more appropriate, thermally efficient low cost house instead of tin shacks!
This 4-meter diameter dome also has a sleeping pod attached to the east.
It took us 24 days to complete the rough bag work - just before Christmas - with some scratch plaster in the bottom sections.
We'll complete the exterior plaster in the next few days.
The continued hot and dry weather in our part of the country is driving us all a little to distraction... and the cows are are very tired of eating old dry grass (with a few green tips thrown in). So I have been feeding them dried Jerusalem artichokes from our plentiful harvest last year and they have been chewing on those sweets with delight - look at this content face of Beauty!
And one of our chickens has hatched a new clutch of beautiful little fluff-balls
Over the last few weeks, Saturdays have become the 'building' days. Some strong young neighbors come and help to drive the construction development further at Waaipoort. We have been erecting a 7m - diameter geodesic dome (with a nice retaining wall from earth bags behind) and also continued the excavation of the Walipini and yesterday we have started with the earth bag retaining walls there as well.
The planting of asparagus continues (with Michele Schiess and Honest Moyo - Pic 1) and the good work of the cows in the veld as well. They are on very poor grazing at the moment (pic 2) with capped soils (pic 3), which their hooves break up beautifully (pic 4). Late morning with full stomach they ruminate in the warm spring sun (pic 5)
The time with engaged volunteer Koos is coming to an end. He was a wonderful support in the garden and got us up to speed with springtime sowing and planting and no less than six new compost heaps! And on top of it all he frequently spoilt us with extraordinary culinary delights.
We welcome volunteers and work with together with global volunteering organizations such as WWOOF and HelpX
Last November, with the support of SeedMoney.org, we managed a successful crowdfunding campaign, where we raised over 3000$US to safeguard our garden area with a new fence and some winter and wind protection. Winter is the time to do most infrastructure development at Waaipoort and we took the advantage of some volunteering hands and installed a brand new Bonnox fence around the existing garden and a whole lot more to allow for the expansion in growing area for the coming summer season.
On Saturday, the 24th of June, we celebrated the joyous occasion of the Grassroots Permaculture Course participants' graduation with a customary feast in our new kgotla/boma/kraal.
In the morning before all of that we discussed the results of their tests. Everybody also made an improved rocket stove and were explained the workings of a simple solar batch geyser by Stephen Barrow