Why are we doing permaculture in Nourish?
Some lessons we can learn from permaculture.
SUSTAINABLE HOUSEHOLD FOOD GARDENS IS THE BEST SOLUTION TO MITIGATE THE HARSH AFFECTS OF THE ECONOMIC RECESSION AND UNEMPLOYMENT AFTER COVID-19 NATIONAL LOCKDOWN.
Read more about Plog-olution on their Facebook or website. Plogolution has been set up to help support fit and happy communities that are dedicated to protecting the environment so we can be proud to hand our planet down to future generations.
Two years ago I had never heard of Plogging - the new environmental craze founded in Sweden and now literally sweeping the planet. Now the activity involving running whilst picking up rubbish has literally changed my life.
The unimaginable scale of plastic production, coupled with an equally mind-boggling littering culture across the globe, has put immense pressure on our beautiful planet. It has never been easier to access disposable items, with convenience taking the lead over environmental responsibility and, unfortunately, it’s Mother Earth that suffers the most. With over 8 million tonnes of rubbish entering our seas and oceans every single year, our waterways and the wildlife that inhabit them are literally choking at the hands of human carelessness and ignorance. However it’s not just marine life in far off locations that are suffering. In my hometown of London, England, wildlife is dying simply because a small but significant part of the population are simply too lazy or just don’t care enough to put their rubbish in the bin. Foxes, Badgers and even the famous Deer of Richmond Park, all mistaking our single use plastic for food which then clogs up their digestive systems. How crazy that something like a bottle of water which takes 5 minutes to drink can sit in the environment for literally hundreds of years!
Something needed to be done to break that cycle, so when co-founder Michelle sent me an article about the latest eco fitness craze we had to give it a try. Our first plog was held in a small corner of London and with both a running and a walking group, in which 16 of us collected over 30 bags of rubbish from the local community. The event was a huge success and with that Plogolution was born. What better way to bring people together to make a difference?
Since our first plog we have held over 50 events across the UK and even as far as The United States , bringing people together of all different ages and backgrounds, and giving them a platform to give back to our planet. We soon realised it was also an amazing platform for people to make new friends - meeting people that they potentially wouldn’t otherwise interact with in everyday life - as well a chance to get active and a different gateway into what can sometimes be an intimidating fitness world. This really was the perfect opportunity for people to improve their minds, bodies and their planet.
The first community plogs brought our attention to one group in particular. The children. At every plog we had such incredibly passionate young children attending with their families. Clearly aggrieved at what old generations were doing to the environment, they were keen to fight back. We soon set up our first Primary school plogging club, with most schools heading out on a weekly basis for just a 20 minute run or walk around their local community in a bid to make it that little bit cleaner. Our aim was to both educate and empower our young people so that they had not only the passion to change the world, but also the platform to do it. In just over a year our now 34 plogging schools have collected a staggering 4,019 plastic bottles, 4,321 cans, 1,495 glass bottles and 41,938 cigarette butts!! Those figures are huge already but just imagine the stats if thousands of schools across the world were plogging just once a week, it’s enough to blow the mind!
With that in mind you can understand our joy when fellow Plogolution team member Phoebe and myself, on a separate conservation/education project, visited Nourish Eco Village back in February 20202. We had heard about the incredible work that Sarah (Nourish founder) and the rest of the amazing team were doing to educate and look after the local community of Sigagule Village on the outskirts of the world famous Kruger National Park. What we weren’t expecting was the world-class display of upcycling that greeted us on arrival. The team used pretty much everything they could in the most creative way in order to leave very little for actual waste. Entire walls made out of Eco Bricks; a herb garden designed with Henieken bottles; and the whole kitchen floor made of bottle caps, to name but a few examples. It really was an environmentalist’s dream.
Sarah set up Nourish as a way of supporting the local community, both educating them and providing a safe haven, mainly for children, living firmly in the grips of poverty in rural South Africa. Connecting these children with nature, and giving them a passion for the environment, empowers them to want to make a difference in the world they live in.
We spent a week at the Nourish Eco Village and we were able to introduce the idea of plogging to the staff there. Unfortunately rain put a holt to the plog we had planned on our visit but our hearts were filled with pride when we received pictures from the Nourish team of Trinity taking the local children out on their first plog with their brand new Plogolution t-shirts. Having met so many inspiring young children on our visit that, thanks to Nourish, have developed a deep passion for the environment, we knew that Plogging would be a perfect fit with everything they do already at Nourish. Not only could they make use of the waste they would create but they could actively start collecting the huge amount of waste residing in the South African countryside and making use of that too.
In rural South Africa, as well as many poorer parts of the world it is not simply a case of mindless littering. These communities often have no access to waste collection, something that we in the developed world take for granted. For one reason or another these people have been left on their own to deal with their ever-growing waste problem. In response to this, Nourish have created an ingenuous and successful scheme in which local families within the community can exchange bags of recycling, based on weight, for credit to put towards their children’s uniform and school-related costs. Wider initiative schemes have also been introduced to the pupils who access Nourish, with them being able to trade in bags of recycling in exchange for their own school-related equipment.
The Corona outbreak has inevitably the plans for future plogs at Nourish on hiatus. However, the amazing Trinity - staff member at Nourish - is looking forward to getting plenty more of the local children plogging and making a difference. Seeing the photos of so many smiling young faces with rubbish bags in hand, warmed our hearts and filled us with hope that we can turn things around.
Our planet is struggling under the pressure of human activity, but if we can empower and inspire the next generation to want to make a difference, and give them the tools to do the job, then they can go a long way in turning around the mess that previous generations have caused. We really can’t wait to see what Nourish can do and of course visit again once we have returned to some form of normality. Until then we continue to look on in complete admiration as Sarah and the team do their best to look after the community with food parcels and on-going support.
NOURISH COMPOST ARTICLE
Compost is an essential decomposed material that are used in combination which includes crop residues, leaves, grass clippings, animal manure and what is regarded as kitchen waste. It has proven time and time again that it provides soil with many essential nutrients to support proper plant growth and as a result it’s considered as an organic fertilizer.
Furthermore compost has the ability to improve soil structure in a way that the soil can have high moisture holding capacity, it also improves the texture of both sand and clay soils. Making either type rich, moisture retentive to proper growth of plants
In our organic gardens, compost is regarded as the best natural mulches and fertilizers for improving for improving soil fertility that creates a viable environment for plant growth. Composting has a both agricultural and social b benefit which serves as an important process to us and members of the society.
Come visit me at the Nourish Eco Village and I will show you our compost heap, and the processes we use to mulch, water and make compost, and the beautiful vegetables we grow in our garden that we use in the Granny's kitchen to provide food for the children everyday.
In nature, compost is being made all the time.
Organic matter in the form of leaves, bark, grass and animal droppings are being broken down and decomposed. You might see some of the bigger creatures (decomposers) responsible, like termites or millipedes however you won’t see the microscopic life involved in the process. Beneficial microbes in the form of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and micro arthropods are functioning in a soil food web.
Much like when you drive through the Kruger National Park, you see complex habitats with predators, omnivores, herbivores and scavengers all filling a niche while benefitting the system – the soil is no different, it’s just happening at a microscopic level. In a healthy ecosystem you could potentially find billions of beneficial microbes in just one teaspoon of soil. Many microbes work symbiotically with plants, the plants provide food in the form of root exudates (sugars generated through photosynthesis) and the microbes (depending on their type) might provide protection from harmful microbes, extract trace minerals from the surrounding soil or convert nutrients into a plant available form.
To make compost properly requires a bit of effort but it is always worth it. People have come up with numerous ways to make compost. Depending where in the world you are and the climate you have, certain methods may be more suitable than others. We found this information ON FARM COMPOSTING METHODS produced by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation for the United Nations) to very useful.
We like the BERKELEY HOT COMPOSTING METHOD as the regular turning keeps the compost pile aerobic and this ensures the microbes that dominate are beneficial. The hot temperatures also kill off weed seeds and pathogens.
Basically you gather about 50% brown material (dry leaves, thatch, small sticks), 25% green material (grass cuttings, weeds) and 25% manure (horse, cow, pig, chicken). Any larger pieces such as thatch or sticks should be cut shorter (to about 5cm). Thoroughly wet the material and build a heap about 1.5 metres high. Wait a few days and the pile should heat up a lot, around 60 - 65 degrees Celsius. Then turn it by using a garden fork, taking the material on the outside of the pile and using that to start a new one. Then the rest of the material is piled up on the new heap. Add more water if necessary (the heap should always be damp). Turn the pile every second day.
After about 20 – 30 days the temperature in the middle of the pile should not be as hot. Now you can stop turning the compost heap but it’s best to leave the compost undisturbed for a further month to allow the microbes to multiply even further, still keeping the pile slightly damp. Once ready, it should be a very dark brown colour and have an earthy smell.
Thank you - Ian from Soil with Soul for sharing your compost passion! Our garden at home is certainly sprouting up and benefiting from your beautiful organic compost!
For more information on Soil with Soul go to their Facebook page.
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