30 January 2024 – An 11-day Permaculture Design Course (PDC) conducted by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) commenced on December 5, 2023, at Khula Dharma, Eastern Cape. The course is a clear representation of the organisation’s ongoing commitment to sustainable development and environmental regeneration. The course is food gardening course based on the principles, ethics, and techniques of permaculture and agroecology, embodying the well-known saying: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
A group of 13 teachers from various regions of South Africa were among the 15 participants in attendance, all of whom have extensive experience in working on food gardens in their schools and imparting valuable knowledge to their students through FTFA’s EduPlant Programme. The teachers were selected from the 13 schools that were winners of the EduPlant Finals competition toward the end of 2023. These schools demonstrated a high level of understanding and implementation of the materials taught over the two-year EduPlant intervention and displayed outstanding achievement toward food security within their communities.
The involvement of these educators in the permaculture design course adds an extra layer of significance to the initiative as it extends its positive impact to schools, students, and the surrounding communities. The focus of the PDC was not limited to imparting knowledge and technical skills to the participants; it also aimed to foster personal and professional growth. The use of technology during the course further enhanced the participants’ practical skills, and broadened their minds to new opportunities in the field of agriculture and environmental sciences.
Throughout the 11 days, participants were ‘invited’ to experience a new way of life, and each day’s training and teachings helped them embrace sustainability concepts that contribute toward the vision of an empowered South in which everyone has access to quality, naturally grown food that promotes human health and environmental regeneration. As one of the participants, Thabo Lubisi, rightly stated, “With permaculture, anything is possible.”
The PDC not only facilitated growth among the participants but also proved transformative for the facilitators. Following the 7th permaculture principle of working from “pattern to detail”, the facilitators applied this to their approach to teaching by observing patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and traits of the participants. This adaptability allowed them to tailor the course to meet the needs of each participant, preparing them to transfer their acquired skills to their communities.
Despite various challenges and constraints, the experienced facilitators of FTFA recognised the opportunity to teach valuable problem-solving skills. Hence, the PDC became a holistic experience, promoting knowledge, resilience, and adaptability among facilitators and participants. Of course, plenty of un was had as well – facilitators and participants spent time in Khula Dharma’s gardens, preparing beds, mulching, composting and planting trees and seedlings.
The PDC has consistently proven that permaculture enriches individual lives, the environment, and has ripple effects within communities. We thank Tiger Brands, FTFA’s EduPlant Programme partner for their sponsorship of this course.