Students help families go green

Rocklands residents enjoy their unique rocket stove, an efficient and hot burning stove using wood fuel, in Lockheed Street.

Three Rocklands families are over the moon for their rocket stoves, their new gardens and water and energy-saving tricks to keep green throughout the year.

The Jappie, September and Maart families completed surveys with participants in a climate resilience and green economy education programme, offered by Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) at Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, based at Rocklands Primary School.

Their homes are in Impala, Lockheed and Boeing streets.

They were also willing to continue the work done by the 15 “revolutionaries”, unemployed youth, who are in the last few weeks of the course, including a four-week job shadowing opportunity at different green economies in and around Cape Town to further practice what they have learned (“Youth learn self-sustaining skills”, Plainsman April 10).

Rafeeqa Jappie said the students revived her green fingers.

When she and her husband Mogamat were interviewed she said water and energy-saving techniques were prioritised in greening and feeding their home and household.

Their geyser was wrapped in a blanket, to keep water warm, and boxed in to create a neat working space.

They were given wicking beds, in containers, in which plants are watered from below, rather than above.

Students Elias Watwunga, from Greenhaven, Masixole Mthini, from Khayelitsha, Simon Kaira, from Capricorn, and Kyle Kruger, from Lentegeur, worked with the Jappie family.

“It’s basically a container with a water reservoir at its base. Moisture is drawn up through the soil via a process called capillary action or wicking,” said Kyle.

Like the wick in a paraffin lamp, it draws up water from the resevoir, meaning that no water is lost to evaporation as would be the case when watering from the top down.

Facilitator Imraan Samuels said wicking uses up to 80 percent less water than normal container gardening or in-ground beds.

In the next few months the Jappies will have granadillas which have been planted alongside their house, to keep the inside cool during the summer and warm during winter.

The plant bears fruit twice a year – two main annual crops, a summer crop and a smaller winter crop. They also received a pomegranate tree, which will help the other side of their home.

Mr Jappie is particularly happy with the water tank, which will save on the water bill to keep the garden hydrated, and the rocket stove, an efficient and hot burning stove using wood fuel, on their stoep, which he invites the community to use.

They can boil water on the stove and according to Kyle, it takes 0.5 units of electricity to boil a kettle of water. “So, if they boil water to make tea five times a day, they use 2.5 units of electricity just for this daily activity,” he said.

The family was given a bucket and blanket in which they can cook and keep food warm, without electricity; and a flask to keep water during the day.

“They were also advised not to boil more water than is necessary at a time.

Anne September was at work when the students showed off their work to the community on Thursday April 18 but her husband Oscar said he enjoyed just sitting and looking at the plants, which were planted in gutters, one above the other, along the outside wall of their house.

Student Nuraan Goliath, from Pelican Park, said Ms September was very keen to keep the garden going.

Arthur Maart said he grew up with herbs and knew well their ability to cure ailments naturally. “I grew up with these herbs and I am grateful to the students, who came out to help me and revive this age-old tradition,” he said.

They were given a water tank and a large composting bin to keep their herb garden going.

He said the communal gardens and those at the three households would go a long way to connecting residents. “These are not just my plants but the community’s as well,” he said.

The group also installed a rocket stove in Lockheed Street where they completed their community project. Fuel is burned in a simple combustion chamber containing an insulated vertical chimney in the rocket stove, which was built on Margaret Hartzenburg’s stoep as she plans on running a soup kitchen in the coming winter months.

The participants completed their 15-week accredited skills programme, including 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.

The participants were offered a four-week job shadowing opportunity at different green economies in and around Cape Town to further practice what they have learned.

The next course starts on Monday May 6. Interested applicants, aged between 18 and 35, must at least have a Grade 11 certificate and can contact Marliese on 082 4134 907 for more information.