31 Mar 2015 Richard Zweekhorst, Permaculture Specialist
Recently, A Spring of Hope’s partner schools were paid a visit by Richard Zweekhorst, permaculture-specialist. Richard and Annekim, our South Africa liaison, have worked together on projects over the past four years. Richard has also been instrumental in developing permaculture programs for ASoH, so we were excited when he proposed flying out to South Africa to assist us with permaculture garden projects in the rural communities.
With only two weeks of preparation time Richard managed to raise enough funds from local schools and companies in The Netherlands, who were excited about his mission, to plan a two-week stay in South Africa.
For Richard permaculture is not just a gardening method, it’s a way of life. Making use of everything that nature has to offer, without the interference of artificial resources, will create not only a highly productive vegetable garden but also a place that offers us peace, comfort, fun, education, basic life lessons, excitement, celebration and much more. Taking children into the garden to teach them about permaculture principles, allowing them to get their hands dirty, and see the result of their efforts by the growth of fresh and healthy food will make them believe in themselves.
Although African people have been growing their own food supply since the beginning of time, the benefits of permaculture gardening are not widely known on this continent. Regular cultivation of the land, where vegetables and herbs of the same sort are all planted in long rows, is still the most common form of agriculture today. In the area where A Spring of Hope partners with rural schools, Beretta School staff and learners are by far the most experienced when it comes to permaculture gardening. With their flagship garden, started in 2008 by Richard in cooperation with the former principle Leanette, Beretta is an example to the entire community and all schools in the area. Richard and Leanette carry out the permaculture message wherever they go. In two weeks time Richard managed to inspire many more teachers and children at the A Spring of Hope schools, supplying them with knowledge and providing them with seedlings and trees to motivate the start of a new garden. Many hearts were touched, shovels picked up, seeds planted and mindsets changed.
Richard’s visit was very productive, immensly inspirational and hugely appreciated by all members of AsoH and all partner schools involved in our projects. We would like to thank Richard for his time, energy and good heart and we hope to welcome him again in South Africa in the near future.
Special thanks to Annekim Geerdes for this update.