This is the story of how Week #22 garden came to be. The school we considering and in conversation with for garden #22 came back to us after several conversation with our garden partners, that they didn't want to go ahead with a garden project until next year.
With this last minute change and with South African School's ending their school year in November and December and with both student and teachers being very busy with end of year exams, we were concerned if we would be able to find a school, in time, to work with. We also didn't want to lose the great growing season we have in summer and with the high rainfall we have in KZN.
But then, as fate would have it, I went to purchase several kilorams of sunflowers seeds one morning at an agri-store and I was speaking to the cashier about Growing Hope and the permaculture inspired gardening project we have been doing this year at schools and asking her some questions about the sunflowers I was purchasing. Not knowing someone has been listening.
When I got to my car, a Zulu gentleman approached me with curiosity and humility saying he could not help but overhearing my conversation, and he proceeded to tell me about a small rural high school (350+ students) that he founded some years ago, and that agriculture was a key interest and subject for several students but that they would really appreciate a practical gardening experience and support to learn some of the permaculture practices Growing Hope shares.
I was so touched by his words and earnestness that we exchanged contact information and the name of the school and he assured me the school was fenced ad that the students would be so grateful.
That next week we were able to make plans to support this school with our final sponsorship of the year. We made special arrangements to visit the school to present a short talk for a school assembly to several grades and then made arrangements to meet with the agricultural students who would be involved with the garden to meet twice before they left for holidays.
So our first visit to the school was a short presentation where key permaculture principles were shared to a larger portion of the school in an assembly. The second visit was a mulching and seeding day which is always alot of fun! Then we visited the school again the following week, and taught them how to make a natural fertilizer with comfrey leaves and banana skins, and we also supported them to reinforce their fence so that animals like roaming neighbors goats, cows and chickens can now much less easily access their garden area. While animals are a key part of permaculture, at the early stage of rebuilding soil and teaching the students principles, we chose to try to protect and preserve the crops as best we can so we can get a harvest to teach them about seed saving and chop and drop and to avoid a roaming goat mowing through the newly planted garden of crops in an afternoon.
Below are photos of some of our visits.
We are eager to see how this garden unfolds and we are excited to return again to the school in late January after the long school summer holidays are over, so we can support them with harvesting, seed saving and chop and drop, so that they can continue to not only grow in a more sustainable way, but that they see the benefit of continuing to regenerate the soil. We have a lot of hope this will become a thriving garden.
See you in 2023!