Well managed land is wealth


A similar success story, right here in Grahamstown – Redbeard Permaculture uses pigs to ‘work’ and fertilise the ground. Photo: Edward Gaybba

Compiled by Nikki Köhly

RU Green Fund

One of Rhodes University’s Annual Fund projects is the Green Fund (RUGF). This fund promotes initiatives and measures that result in efficient management of water and energy resources, reduced waste production, biodiversity conservation, sustainable travelling and procurement, and sustainable planning and building.

The RU Environmental Committee assists and advises on implementing the Environmental Sustainability Policy (see www.ru.ac.za/environment/policy/about). It also holds the annual RU Environmental Awards, to recognise consistent and innovative efforts to promote sustainability.

Join us in sustaining our beautiful surroundings, and inspire others to adopt practical green initiatives that improve the health and well-being of our community.

If you would like to donate to the RUGF, or need more info, please go to www.ru.ac.za/donate or contact the Annual Fund Projects Officer on 046 603 8887, annualfund@ru.ac.za.

Stern Action for Strays

Residents have a right to own livestock, for economic and cultural reasons. However, with rights come responsibilities. Animals must be cared for, kept safe, and not allowed to cause harm or danger to others. Many of us love seeing these animals in town. But the sad reality is that they are often involved in motor accidents, as well as damaging property and spreading harmful animal diseases. These negative impacts affect ALL members of the community.

This has also been a problem in neighbouring towns such as Port Alfred. In desperation, Agri Eastern Cape turned to the courts, and won. Ndlambe Municipality has now accepted its responsibility to manage stray animals in town, as per the municipal by-laws, and has started to address the problem. An ownership register will be established, which will also help with assisting cattle owners gain access to farms purchased by the government for Land Reform purposes.

“Et tu, Makana?”

The Land Issue

Believe it or not, land ownership is not a prerequisite for farming success. Hendrik O’Neill, Solomon Munyenga, Sally Nicholl, and Anderson Mutasa did not have land or lots of money, so they decided to form a partnership with the aim of farming simply, on a small scale.

They leased 40 hectares of degraded ground near Hammanskraal, in the Limpopo province. The plot was a typical example of desertification – very little ground cover as a result of overgrazing by livestock. Alan Savory’s TED Talk on fighting desertification – through holistic management and planning grazing – inspired them. They started with nine pigs grazing intensively for not more than 24 hours in a small, ultra-high-density movable camp – two strands of electric wire does the trick.

This ultra-high-density system mimics the behaviour of herds of migratory wildlife. Each day, a new area of soil was snouted, trampled and fertilised. The thick layer of grass and organic matter left behind by the pigs helped retain moisture. It wasn’t long before the soil’s capacity had improved so much that there was thick, healthy grass growing – despite the drought.

After two years of using this system, they had 40 healthy hectares supporting 1 000 pigs, 20 cattle and 800 free-range chickens. The animals work and fertilise the soil so well that veggies can be planted straight they move to the next camp.

No inherited land, no big loans, no expensive equipment … no cycle of factory farming, no high turnover or low job satisfaction … just good land management. Best of all, the farm supplies organic, free-range meat to a rapidly growing niche market, and provides enough meat, eggs, milk and vegetables to support the partners and their families. Now that is true wealth.

More info: www.africanfarming.com/winning-recipe-next-nothing and www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change

Find us Online: www.grocotts.co.za/environews

Contacts for Makana Enviro-News:

Nikki Köhly: n.kohly@ru.ac.za, 046 603 7205 | Tim Bull: timothybull05@aol.com, 076 289 5122 | Jenny Gon: j-gon@intekom.co.za, 046 622 5822 | Nick James: nickjames@intekom.co.za, 082 575 9781 | Philip Machanick: p.machanick@ru.ac.za, 046 603 8635.

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