Feeding the Self

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Zuki at Adopt-A-River

On the 19th of November, Feeding The Self took part in a two-day workshop with a clean up crew employed by the Adopt A River project. This is a short video in Xhosa in which Zukisani Lamani explains how easy it is to plant, even where you don’t have any soil.

Workshop at Eluxolweni

The garden at Eluxolweni has been doing very well recently, and they’ve been planing and digging. Chirag, Zukisani and Ndumiso went along to help show them how to mulch, set up their compost pit, and plant a few flowers around the edges....

Garden-building Blitz

So this week we kicked off in force in Grahamstown. Chirag and Duncan from FTS, Zukisani from Inkululeko, Febs, Vuyo and Bongi from Community Service and Ndumiso and three of his friends from the Private Eye Community Watch Project went to build gardens and distribute FTS posters, stickers and guides to: Zolani Daycare – a very small daycare in Extension 6 Littilethu (sp?) – a pre-school in quite a large space, where we had toto rebuild a fence to keep goats out The Jabez centre – AIDS centre in Hooggenoeg, where they need food for people to take ARVs with More information below, including names and descriptions of people in the photos. Many thanks to Zukisani Lamani from Inkululeko, Febz, Vuyo & Bongi from Community Service, and Ndumiso and his friends from Private Eye Community Watch.   We’re also working with… Existing gardens, given resources & seedlings: Private eye community watch – in-community project next to Ntsika, a rehab project for unemployed youth. They want to build a soup kitchen, and become an implementing agency for projects in their environment. Sakhinghomso – pre-school, three classes, nice existing garden spce (needs lots of care).. Eluxolweni – boy’s shelter, looking after 55 children, near the old train station. Most of the boys are recommended to them by welfare services Sakhuluntu – afterschool programme, focused around art projects   Other locations we’ve given resources to/are working with: Raphael centre – the info hub for town Common Ground – on-campus student organisations, who will help with seeds, labour, advertising & fundraising, etc. The Extension 9 Mobile library – a great new initiative, where...

Delivering plants and making ground-level connections.

A major principle of Feeding The Self is to focus on activities being immediately rewarding and beneficial. We’ve had our share of meetings, and it’s good to clear your head by going somewhere in need and helping out. So last week we made deliveries of a range of plants to various locations – Sakinghsomso and Zolani pre-schools, the Jabez Aids Centre, the Eloxolweni boy’s shelter, Private Eye Community Watch, and for the Inkululeko group at Ntsika high school. Pictured are Chirag, Duncan, Febs, Sven, as well as various site personnel (labelled in the images,...

Learning 2 Grow

A fantastic set of materials, developed by Lawrence Sisitka for the Umthathi Training Programme and WESSA. Each section breaks down into activities, information, and lesson plans, making them easy to integrate into your school lessons.   Learning to Grow (WESSA_Umthathi) (1) Learning to Grow (WESSA_Umthathi) (2) Learning to Grow (WESSA_Umthathi) (3)... read more

Window boxes, trays, and pots

We don’t all have the space for a garden, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow stuff anyway. Here’s a couple of guides from the fantastic Gardening With Children on growing in window boxes and pots. How-to-Grow-Plants-in-a-Window-Box (gardening with children) How-to-Grow-Seeds-in-Trays-and-Pots (gardening with... read more

Building the world’s tiniest greenhouses

It’s been a long, hot summer, and there’s probably more to come. Pretty much the only thing growing in my garden at the moment are indigenous succulents and stuff that’s well protected from the sun. It’s very hard to do any new planting, or grow from seed, when it’s like this. To be honest, even finding the energy to go into the garden is hard when it’s so hot.
This is part of a series on gardening in Grahamstown, published in Grocotts Mail, the local newspaper.

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Crippling cold and savage sun

Grahamstown’s weather is pretty unreliable. Blazing hot and dry one day, with icy breezes and storms the next. It’s a big part of why it’s so difficult to grow things here, as not a lot of plants are built to take big changes in conditions.. The ground can get very cold and waterlogged, waiting for the summer sun to bake it dry. That’s why people grow so much spinach and beetroot – they may not be perfect, but they’re reliable in these conditions…. Learn to keep your garden safe from alternating sun and cold.
Part of a series on gardening in Grahamstown, published in Grocotts Mail, the local newspaper.

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Grahamstown Town gardening

All the rocks and ridges mean that growing in Grahamstown has never been easy. Nearly two hundred years ago, James Backhouse visited and said “On approaching Grahams Town, we were struck with the uninviting appearance of its site, which is in a naked country, at the foot of a low, rocky, sandstone ridge.” With dedication, you can overcome the problems a rock-heavy, dry location brings, but most of this area is very unforgiving….
This is part of a series on gardening in Grahamstown, published in Grocotts Mail, the local newspaper.

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General articles

Useful NGO articles, guides we’ve found helpful in teh past, and other bits and bobs.

Companion planting for beginners, 1

Companion planting is where you create a mini-ecosystem around your plants, which makes them thrive together and protects against various bugs and other problems. Guilds are groups of companion plants that work well together. This is a teaching guide to guilds, not sure of the source (please let us know through the contact form if you do and we’ll update the post). Ecosystems:... read more

Getting kids into the garden 1

We designed this activity for schoolkids visiting an indigenous nursery, so it’ll work with any size group in a place where they can wander around but you need them active. They’ll need pencils and something to draw on. Nursery activity 1: Draw a... read more

King III

the first in a series of posts about King III. This one’s a guide from PriceWaterhouseCooper. PWC%20SteeringPoint%20KingIII read more

An interesting piece of research…

A report on biointensive farming systems, publuished by Dr. Binayak P. Rajbhandari, a Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (HICAST), Purbanchal University, Kathmandu, Nepal. (Email: hicast@wlink.com.np, URL://www.hicast.edu.np/)... read more

Partner proposal

A proposal that integrates a range of partner NGOs, each with their own particular expertise, in order to develop a properly holstic intervention at point-of-contact. Or, to put it another way, the outline of how we think you can do good work wit ha minimum of fuss and wasted effort from the NGO and beneficiary side. Partner Proposal... read more

Info list

A flyer listing the kinds of activities that Feeding The Self do. FTS Price & info list read more

Why we do this

In all of the above, it must be remembered that we take as much of a hands off approach as we possibly can. We provide seeds, tools, and material for the children and teachers, but apply no pressure ourselves, trying to keep our interactions with the school minimal, and allowing the teachers to roll the project out however they see fit. This would be cause for concern in many similar projects, where far more is spent on providing gardening material and equipment that go unused; for it has proven a cause of pride and joy, as we see teachers and children taking up the project with drive and determination. A good example is the planting of gardens at home; we went to a couple of schools where, despite the provision at significant cost of mulch, compost, seedlings, and tyres (for planting in), the children and teachers had simply left these things to slowly degrade. For us, we gave them only seeds, and a little instruction, and in all locations the majority of children planted gardens at... read more

“These devils are lying to me…”

Teachers are naturally suspicious of outside forces – after all, what does someone from a different background or location really know about the conditions at their school, especially when that person is engaged in such different work to them? This is especially true when those outside forces are making very ambitious claims, as with FTS.

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A new teacher a new ally

Often when you have to restart something from scratch, especially after you have invested some time in getting it going the first time is quite disheartening. As a person you worry about all the reasons you have to go back to the beginning – did I make a mistake looms over restarting. But restarting in this instance offered new potential energy. You always like to think you have good ideas, with us at FTS it is no different. The new teacher at Ogunjini, Mr Patel, offered some confirmation that we were walking the right path. As a new teacher in a new environment he did not have to be welcoming of three guys thinking they knew something about helping children learn. It did not take him long to see the eagerness with which the learners got out into the garden and worked. Within no time he was asking us for ways to help him take learners into the garden and bring the garden into the classroom. With Mr Patel any worries about how things would run with a new teacher, not obligated to help us, turned out to be... read more

Things don’t always go as planned

When you go into a school and get introduced to the person in charge of grade six it is natural to assume that they are a teacher by training. This view remains true even though the media often talks about the critical shortage of teachers within certain areas and communities. Hearing stories like this doesn’t prepare you for the on the ground reality experienced in some under-resourced schools. At Ogunjini our contact teacher was enthusiastic but was, as it turned out, not a qualified teacher. This was not his fault or the school’s, there were not enough staff to cover all the classes so the school was forced to recruit willing members of the community. We only discovered this late into the project. Seemingly out of the blue we found ourselves restarting the project, virtually from scratch, with Mr Patel who had been placed at the school. How long he would be there, however, is uncertain because the government did not take into consideration his logistical needs when placing him at the school and so he has already asked to be moved. It just goes to show that the best plans really do change the moment they move off the planning board and into the field.... read more

Old dog, new tricks

 One of the things about being a principal is that, after a while, you’ve seen everything. Or so the principal at Ottawa thought, until one day she was surprised by a request from her students that she had never, in all her years of teaching, encountered. The learners actually wanted to come into the school over the weekend, separate from class time, and work. They didn’t want teachers or supervision or any reward; they had taken so much pride in the garden that they wanted to make sure it was constantly being maintained, without any prompting or guidance from the teachers. Self-directed learning through lifelong learning practices is the core objective of OBE; it may have failed across the system, but here, because of the garden, it had set in so much the students were asking for the chance to do it outside of the school... read more