New growth for environmental NGO

Facilitators Sandra Daniels, fromHeideveld, Alex Kruger, from Ladismith, and Imraan Samuels, from Newfields.

Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) had its first public annual general meeting at Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, based at Rocklands Primary School, on Friday May 17.

The 19-year old non-profit organisation was designed to provide outdoor classrooms in under resourced schools, culminating in an integrated education.

They hosted permaculture workshops, had a flourishing garden, mushroom rooms, a shop selling seedlings, compost and contributed to the school’s feeding scheme.

On the school’s premises is a house made of tyres, an outdoor classroom and a classroom made of recycled material blocks.

The school’s programme became a national education tool between 2009 and 2012.

During that time 238 home gardens were established and lots of training sessions were held.

Residents and people came from far to be taught at the centre but in recent years it took a knock.

Home gardener Priscilla Maart, from Portland, asked about the Mitchell’s Plain Food Freedom Project, which was started in 2012 and funding ran out three years later.

She said the programme just died and no feedback was given to the members.

“I am shocked to know you have financial statements because I’ve asked several times for the details but we were kept in the dark,” she said.

Ms Maart called for transparency on where the money went.

“There is nothing happening in our gardens,” she said.

As part of the freedom project, residents attended a two-day food gardening course, they were given a learning manual, compost and seedlings at a cost of R80, by way of investment and having access to resources.

Wesbank, however, withdrew its funding, bringing the project to a standstill.

They also had a food freedom network, started in 2012, which comprised home gardens across Mitchell’s Plain (“Empowering youth with green fingers”, Plainsman, June 21 2017) in the hope that residents would maintain food growing.

Director Leigh Brown said it is only now that they are able to start afresh and present financial statements.

In 2015 the organisation took a financial knock and faced various challenges, including the withdrawal of funding and the loss of its mushroom rooms, which were supposed to supply retailers.

Ms Brown said the award-winning public benefit organisation contributed to Cape Town’s resilience by awakening the potential of unemployed township youth, connecting them to their strengths, the positive resilience action, they can take into their lives and also to green jobs.

Chairman Nicholas Heinamann committed SEED to organising a Food Freedom community meeting within the next six weeks – with the aim of getting all stakeholders together, including alerting the funder to the community dissatisfaction and inviting them to attend to discuss the project and resolve the matter.

He said the organisation’s constitution does not stipulate that board members be elected at its AGM, but those interested could submit their curriculum vitae and the board would consider the nomination.

Recently appointed board member, Farouk Davids, from Rocklands, said all Mitchell’s Plain residents should know about the “beautiful natural” centre.

“Come in. Come see how you can be a part of this and how you can make a difference,” he said.

The centre has been revived to teaching a climate resilience and green economy education programme to unemployed youth (“Youth learn self-sustaining skills”, Plainsman, April 10).

The 15-week accredited skills programme, include permaculture looking at ecosystems, soils, water, energy and plant systems; urban regeneration through the study of household and neighbourhood resilience by collecting information, design and implementation; personal resilience, for participants to get to know themselves, their strengths and beliefs to better articulate and express themselves with self care practices like Chi Gong, yoga and meditation; and job shadowing to gain invaluable experience into the world of work.

Youth who completed the programme shared their experiences with the new crew, who started on Monday May 6.

For more information visit the centre, corner of Park Avenue and Capricorn Street in Rocklands, or call Marliese on 082 413 4907.