KLM’s three-year funding for the development of a 3900 m² self-sufficient garden and food forest at Mother of Peace Home for abandoned and abused children in North Riding has now come to a successful conclusion.
“When KLM approached us to support a food forest in Johannesburg, it was challenging to identify a beneficiary. We looked for a suitable beneficiary with enough water, the necessary commitment and space. We found the perfect site in Mother of Peace,” says Robyn Hills, Food & Trees for Africa Head of Programmes.
Food forests use natural forest ecology as the basis for a food-production system. There are seven main vegetation layers, ranging from the canopy to soil surface groundcover and rhizosphere (root vegetables). They are designed to fill these layers with productive, food-giving support crops, to create interconnected plant communities to maximise productivity and minimise inputs.
The large-scale design of the food forest at Mother of Peace was implemented systematically in the first three months. “We installed additional shade net structures, created permaculture spirals, enhanced the existing fruit tree orchard, did a mass pruning, and planted close to 125 fruit and indigenous trees, as well as indigenous fruiting trees for birds,” Hills explains.
Over the last two years the project has been given increasing autonomy, with the goal to make it totally self-sufficient. “This involved making sure they had sustainable techniques, their own seedlings, the ability to make compost. We also needed to ensure that the garden would be able to continue without us,” expands Hills. “This primary objective has been achieved! In this time, the garden has seen animals like rabbits and ducks being integrated into the system. The children play under the fruit trees in the orchard. It is a safe, productive, and flourishing garden that we’re extremely proud of… the key characteristics are healthy soil and healthy relationships!”