Nothing brings us more happiness than hearing about success stories as a result of what we’ve taught. Or any stories that bring to light the immense benefit Permaculture and sustainable agricultural practices bring. Here are some we’d like to share with you.

Julius Cossa, Permaculture Entrepreneur, Motetema

Motetema, a high-density township with over 72% unemployment rate (mostly youth and women). The landscape is rocky, the climate is hot and rainfall about 450mm per annum. Municipal water is restricted for agriculture activities. The local commercial farmers who are the main vegetable suppliers to Motetema and other cities in South Africa commonly use synthetic agricultural inputs to grow vegetables. Mr Cossa has a great concern about the survival standards of local people.

Motetema is in Elias Motsoeledi Municipality, Ward 31. So, living in an area like this is a challenge, but Mr Cossa, who through Permaculture training thought of adopting permaculture as the key to revive the lost hope of the people in Motetema. He then identified a business opportunity to grow organic vegetables and create jobs for people of Motetema. Mr Cossa approached a local clinic for access to water and land to cultivate crops for his family and for business. Mr Cossa explained “After basic permaculture training facilitated by Ukuvuna, I understood that every household needs vegetables to eat on a daily basis. I learned that my community buy vegetables from local commercial farmers. The vegetables are very expensive and they don’t even know how they are grown and who is growing them. Now I am growing organic vegetables locally and local people are my customers, they acknowledge the healthy growing methods of my vegetables. Local people trust me and they like the food I produce and I am in good business. I aim to expand my enterprise and support the youth, especially women, in Motetema and the whole ward 31. This intervention shall improve wealth whilst taking care of the earth (water, plants, soil and animals), taking care of the people (no synthetic chemicals, share knowledge and maintain good health). I believe if we take care of the environment now in turn it will take care of us and the next generation. With this business I am now an employer of two females.” Mr Cossa’s garden is a diversified unit of vegetables, fruit trees, nursery, poultry production, water harvesting technology, herbs and medicinal plants, natural fertiliser production, etc. He keeps own local variety seeds hence he doesn’t use GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds in his garden. He shares his seeds and vegetables to the clinic, patients, preschools, old age centres. Mr Cossa turned municipal land that was unused for many years into a food production enterprise.

Paulina Mello improves lives through Permaculture

56-year-old Ms Paulina Mello started gardening in the year 2013 after she received training from Ukuvuna. She learnt how to grow vegetables, how to mulch and build trench beds. This humble beginning changed Paulina’s life for the better. Paulina is the Chairperson of Capricorn Permaculture Association. She is from Makushoaneng village ward 7, in the Lepelle Nkumpi local municipality.

Paulina explains: “Trench beds are a good way of soil improvement. A trench bed is prepared and filled with organic matter from within the farm, this include wood ash, grass, leaves, sweepings and soil. All these are put in layers in the trench. The last layer is the top soil. The organic waste is turned into plant food. This method of feeding the soil is cheaper and it’s a way of reducing waste within living areas or within the farm. The method helps in returning carbon back into soil rather than burning the organic waste, when you burn it returns the carbon into the atmosphere and in turn have the ozone layer affected. The trench bed is good for heavy feeder plants like tomatoes, maize, potatoes, chilies, sweet potatoes and green pepper. Good farming does not mean use of synthetic chemicals but inputs that are nature friendly and locally sourced. My farming activities involve growing bananas, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and lucerne for cattle. I now employ one person to assist me with gardening. Permaculture creates jobs and business for local people. With Ukuvuna I grew from ordinary farmer and now I am a permaculture teacher, a cluster leader in my village and the Chairperson of Capricorn Permaculture Association. I have over 100 followers, who are growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and crops, rearing goats, sheep and cattle in my municipality. I am proud of the work I am doing and it’s great to be part of permaculture society in South Africa”.

Joel Mahlangu, Innovator and Cluster leader

Joel is a Permaculture community leader who leads by example. He is 48 years old, a contractor in the construction industry and a keen gardener. He is also an Ukuvuna cluster leader followed by 23 permaculture farmers. He balances his time between addressing the needs of the family and teaching others. The construction sector brings him money whilst gardening provides fresh organic, healthy food and some money as well.

Mr Joel Mahlangu lives in Limpopo, Sekhukhune district in Monsterlus, ward 20 of Elias Motsoeledi Local Municipality. Ukuvuna team visited Joel and shared with him his involvement in gardening. Joel shared as follows “Food first before any other job, so for me I work for food first like any other professional person. Being trained as a carpenter and painter did not stop me from having my own garden of fruit trees, herbs and vegetables”. Early 2017 Joel received Permaculture training from Ukuvuna. He then started to design his homestead putting in place every possible aspect of permaculture. Approaching his main entrance, you are received by evergreen flower beds and ground cover together with a small fish pond (with catfish). The ground cover protects the soil during rainy season. Excess runoff water during rain is trapped into the fish pond. From the fish pond the water is directed through a small pipe to irrigate some fruit trees in his orchard. The water from the fish pond is fertilised by the droppings from the fish hence it creates rich water with nutrients for the fruit trees. Though Joel hasn’t fully completed his home design, it is one of the good examples of a permaculture model where you see water management and soil conservation, landscape design, good vegetable garden with a lots of fruit trees. He aims to set his homestead garden as a model for permaculture systems and agroecology practises. The aim is to train other farmers through a “see and learn” system. He believes that adults learn better if they see, feel & taste good practises of sustainable food production which they will then replicate at home. With enthusiasm, Joel explains that “When local farmers visit my place, I give them a garden tour and share with them about the climate change, good food system, seed systems, earthworms, live fence, intercropping and many more. I am proud of Permaculture”.