Hope farm, abundant growing at a permaculture site near East London, South Africa

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Belinda from Hope Farm has, with the help from Jacques (Santa Paloma Guest Farm) created a great and abundant permaculture site. In the picture left hand, you see well-grown ginger, this one is for David to bring it to Zambia. In the middle you see a swale, nicely mulched with banana leaves and planted. In the picture right hand abundant beans clamber up on a wooden scaffold.

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Where ever you are looking in this garden lots of green, the soil is covered all over, a wealth of fruits and crops. Asked for the secret of this abundance, Belinda answered: I´m mulching, I´m mulching all the time, thick layers and again and again, whatever I found, I use it!

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Belinda has a nice system for the storage of seeds. One shelf for every season, so that even new volunteers can find the right ones to sow. In locked containers with flour, so that they stay dry.

20140522_124218And a little explanation for every seed, splendid!

20140522_135008Here the entrance to the best chicken yard, I ever saw. Actually it’s not one yard, but three. I have seen two before, but never three and never with so a good crop inside. The idea is to use the circle of life in an efficient way. So you put the chicken in yard1, after 4 months they have eaten all the snails, little insects and brought their manure all over. So you put them in yard2 and start to grow in number 1. After 4 months you put the chicken (between 20 and 30 is the best quantity, the chickens feel family and do not chop the others) in yard3 and you start to grow in yard2. In yard1 you can harvest already.

20140522_135231   20140522_134027 In the yards the plants grow as if they want to break all competitions. In the picture left hand a pigeon tree. It’s a nitrogen fixator and has edible beans.

20140522_134724 20140522_134626 Jacques is the inventor here, too. Here for example portable chicken houses out of recycled polystyrene boxes and washers made out of old coasters.

20140522_132933 20140522_133506In the picture left hand a banana circle, right hand  aquaponic with a chicken tractor.

20140522_133616A nice and easily made water level indicator for your rain water tank.  One bottle is hanging outside, the other one inside. Both are connected with a string. So when the water in the tank is sinking the bottle outside is rising and you can side even from far away how much water is left!

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A beautiful compost toilet with nice view in the nature, made out of bamboo, with stairs out of  trunks in different sizes and even a smell remover, look at this hose, which brings the smell up in the sky:

20140522_132823 20140522_131533As beautiful this out-door shower, made out of bamboo, too. A big old trunk is the middle stabilizer. Attached on it you can see a super rocket stove. This stove is able to heat water in five minutes, so best for bog groups of people like in seminars, workshops or permaculture design courses 😉

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As combustible material you can use little sticks but also fuel. The outer wall is doubled, so that the water can be heated all over the length of the oven.

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Thank you, Belinda and Jacques, for all this splendid examples to make our life more autonomy, sustainable and beautiful!


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Santa Paloma Guestfarm, Ecolodge and Permaculture Site in East London, South Africa

20140522_095613Jacques, the owner, has not only created a peaceful and well maintained gueat farm with lots of astonishing inventions and nice wildlife, but also a great permaculture site with abundant vegetation. His daily organisation is focussed on sustainable behaviour and clever designed, easy and efficient equipment.
I never saw anybody before, who is adopting so well the permaculture principles in his ordinary life.

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape function, and species assemblies. It determines where these elements should be placed so they can provide maximum benefit to the local environment. The central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy. Permaculture designs evolve over time by taking into account these relationships and elements and can become extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input.[13]

By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.

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20140522_105951For example you don´t find ordinary fittings, but self-made taps and showers. In Africa fittings are expensive and often not easy to install.  So here, copper pipes are just nicely welt and holes are drilled in.

20140522_105745      20140522_105831 Or toilet doors made out of simple corrugated iron with an easy self welded frame.

20140522_110001      20140522_110023Door handles from horn. (There are lots of bucks on the property) And old windows frames become nice picture frames.

20140522_110124  20140522_110432Currently the team is working on chicken tractors. All material is reused, except the rabbit wire. It will have wheels at one side, so that one person can easily move it.

20140522_110316  20140522_110346It will have a sleeping floor, you can see it still laying on the lawn Through the holes, the manure can directly fall onto the field. It will get two sections, one for 30 chicken and one for rabbits, made out of these recycled polystyrene boxes. They are easy to handle, to clean and they isolate well.  Rabbits  are not common in Africa. What a pity, because they grow easily, give good manure and fine meat.

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In the garden you find swales to safe the water, vetiver grass (the roots are growing to two meter down!)to improve the soil, for mulching and to create windbreaks for fruit and nut trees. Moringa trees are pilot plants, bringing nitrogen into the earth and valuable food donor.

20140522_113916 20140522_113059You can´t imagione, that the garden is only 3 years old, every thing is growing nicely, every little bit of soil is covered. Ducks are running free, manuring the soil. Herbs, here rosemary on top of a swale, are growing all over.

20140522_095640 This passion fruit was planted only one year ago. Now it covers already the whole roof and has a lot of fruits.   East London has subtropical climate. It rains about 700 ml per year

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This banana circle is clearing the grey water from the house. In the middle you can also throw organic material from the garden. In the picture right hand bamboo, the great building material in an old drum, so that the strong roots can´t spread overall in the garden.

20140522_100344 20140522_100234     In the picture left hand you can see liquid manure made out of 1/3 water, 1/3 animal manure and 1/3 green comfrey. You have to stir it for two weeks every day, than you can start to use it. Leave a little bit in for the next one to restart the decomposition process. On the other side fish ponds made out of old water tanks.
When I made this post, I thought about lots of photos I didn´t shot. So unfortunately you only see a little part of this famous site. A good reason, on the other hand, to visit Jacques, his children and his team to discover more of this great and more and more sustainable way of life!

For more information, address and details:

Santa Paloma Guest Farm and Eco Centre





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Permaculture Design in Berg en Dal, South Africa



The Klein Karoo Sustainable Drylands Permaculture Project (KKSDPP) is a Not-for-Profit Organisation that owns the Farm Berg-en-Dal, near Ladismith in the Klein Karoo (in the Western Cape, South Africa). The farm is the home to a community of people who run the KKSDPP whose aim is to create a model of regenerative settlement that is used as a training environment for a wide range of permaculture and ecological land-use related systems and concepts.
(from their website: http://www.berg-en-dal.co.za)

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20140519_172403-1 20140520_114240Berg-en-dal is placed 325 km remote from  Cape Town in the mountains. It took us a whole day to arrive there. Tahir told us later, that there are private buses, which you can book and who are going directly to Ladismith. We didn´t know that and because of no public transport, we hitchhiked.

We arrived at night and it was already quite cold, so we were happy to be warmly received by Laura, a German volunteer from Hamburg. We could cook something and we spend the night in this little stilt house.

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The next day Tahir, one of the founders of Berg-en-Dal, spent a lot of time to show us around, although he had a lot to do. Thank you very much, Tahir, it was a treasure you shared with us!
The first year at Berg-en-Dal (about 15 years ago), they spent the time observing where the water is flowing, the wind is blowing, the sun is shining. So they could discover easy ways to direct the water in their fields, making a swale over here, a little stone barrier over there.

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They made two big dams, but unfortunately one was leaking, so they had to empty it. Now they put a thick layer of clay to make it impermeable.
In the picture left hand vetiver grass to solid the soil, mulching, feeding livestock and for broms, hats and so on.

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First pioneer plants were grown to improve the soil and to give wind break. Than fruit and nut trees were planted with lots of companion plants, like white clover (Kriechklee), comfrey (Beinwell), yarrow (Schafgarbe), vetiver grass or rosemary.

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So every bit of soil is covered with plants or mulch and you can always see different levels of plants. The herbs also attract bees and repel harmful insects.
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On the picture left side a grapefruit tree with comfrey. In the middle you can nicely see the pan, who is made around every tree. It’s as big as the crown, because the roots have the same measure, so its important to protect the whole root zone from stepping on, so that the microorganism can develop well.

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Geranium in different varieties is also a very good insect repellent.

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There are lots of compost toilets, all with two vessels, so you can use one and let mature the other one.

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A nice keyhole garden with a compost basket in the middle, so the nurture can immediately taken by the plants.

WP_20140520_015  20140520_123412Behind Tahir and David you can the solar heater for warm water. 20140520_120357  WP_20140520_005
A clay house, very stable and easy to make.

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Laura is loping a fruit tree. Unfortunately the birds are eating all the fruits with soft skins so they need to cover the trees with nets, for that the tree must stay little!

The nursery, a `must´ in every permaculture garden!

When the tour was finished Tahir still spent time to help us with our plans for a permaculture site in Zambia, it was just awesome!

If you want to have further and actual informations visit the website http://www.berg-en-dal.co.za!



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A traditional village on the way to permaculture farming (Livingstone, Zambia)

Sometimes you don´t know, how it happens, sometimes it´s just the right moment. The right people at the right place, the energy is focussed and it starts!

20140420_170632The Milangu community is a traditional village 30 km abroad from Livingstone. We are standing at the only well, build in the 70th, supplying water for 500 people…

…if you believe it or not: the government just drilled another bore hole JUST BESIDE this one, who ever knows the reason! ….

The water is pulled up by hand work and its only allowed to use as drinking water. So the cattle must be brought 10 km away to soak.

Besides most of the livestock died a long time ago because of the  foot-and-mouth disease. Also after that time, all the cattle still died because of this disease. Now they are dipping the cattle one time a year in a medicinal solution and it seems to help. But very few people have enough or even at all money to buy livestock again.

The village people depends therefore fully on their crop.  That´s  hard, also because it rains only one time a year and the soil is sandy and poor, so the water just rushes away.

20140420_171356First meeting with around 10 farmers from the village. We were looking a permaculture film and discussing the farming possibilities for the area. The biggest problems are indeed water harvesting and soil building. The farmers are enthusiastic about the new ways of farming and the technologies possible.

20140420_173956  20140420_17410120140420_174201David and Kingsley with freshly harvested sugar cane. Kingsley is a business man, but he is a farmer by heart, he wants to return to the village and become a farmer. He already built this nice traditional house and made different fields for maize, sugar cane and other crops.

20140420_171406The field, we are standing on, is near the well and on low ground, so the water supply is better than in the surrounding. It´s the place for the first food forest in the village. Greenpop, an african tree planting organisation with a offshot in Livingstone, will help to design it.

20140420_171415While we were standing there one of the few cattle came through. That´s a problem, because the free-living cattle eat want they want and lumber the crop down.

20140420_170922David, Stanley, Ammon and Francis are determined to improve the situation for the community.

20140413_142826Playing Morabaraba with Gideon. He is one of the old skillful farmers. He performs traditional raised beds with great success:

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You can see sweet potatoes, beans and sorghum, which grow without any water.  Making the beds you just throw all the weeds at the bottom and cover it with soil.

20140413_141259David, who is working at Livingstone,  with his 8-year-old twins and his mother. She lives alone, so Gideon is helping her with the fields. Ubuntu (I am because we are) what means to care and to share,  is still valuable in the community.


The first raised beds

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We made them at Stanley’s, who lives with his wife and by heart adopted child in a beautiful clay house.

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He made fancy recycling seats out of stable branches and used sacks, comfortable!

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We collected thick and thinner trumps and covered them with sticks and dry weeds. Then we picked green leaves and placed them onto the beds.

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We covered with the beds with soil from the edge, making a ditch around them on same time. More and more people from the village emerged and observed us.

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Francis brought reed from an old roof. We placed it on the beds alternating with the green leaves.
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Ready! Proudly the team presents behind the new raised beds.


Kingsley explains the advantages of mulching: Covering the soil against heat, bringing green manure and storing the damp in the soil (if there is any!), the children are listening attentive. Behind the raised beds we started a compost, too.

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Everybody is very proud and happy. We worked nicely together and had in between a traditional supper in the shade of the mango tree.

There we discussed the next steps. Two of the farmers will make a sustainable agriculture course in the Kusamala institute for Agriculture in Lusaka (also described in this blog). The NGO Greenpop will collect some farmers to show them a nearby food forest and make workshops for rocket stoves and solar cookers.

David and me will explore more permaculture sites to get good examples and advises from experts, you can read about in future posts.


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On the land is a big baobab tree, too. He is probably over 1000 years old. In bygone days the village people met around.

Here some green fruits in between other traditional nuts. The fruits of the baobab are very healthy.
Baobab (Adansonia digitata) is a tree native to certain tropical regions in Africa, including South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. Baobab trees produce fruit with a powdery pulp found to contain high amounts of vitamin C. Often consumed as a food or added to beverages, baobab fruit is sometimes used for medicinal purposes.

Uses for Baobab

In traditional African medicine, baobab fruit is used to treat a number of illnesses (including asthma, fever, diarrhea, malaria and smallpox). In addition, practitioners of traditional African medicine often use baobab fruit to curb inflammation.

In recent years, manufacturers have begun adding baobab fruit to juices, energy drinks, energy bars and dietary supplements. Often marketed as a “superfruit,” baobab is typically touted as a rich source of antioxidants. For instance, baobab is sometimes said to contain greater amounts of vitamin C than oranges and other citrus fruits.

Baobab-containing products are often marketed as a rich source of antioxidants. Some proponents claim that, due to their antioxidant content, products made with baobab fruit can help slow the aging process and protect against major illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Baobab is also said to protect against inflammation-related conditions (including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and allergies, as well as heart disease and cancer).

Additionally, baobab fruit is sometimes used as an ingredient in skin-care, hair-care and body-care products. Some personal-care products contain baobab oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the baobab tree. Research shows that baobab seeds are rich in essential fatty acids (such as linoleic acid) that may help improve the skin.

Benefits of Baobab

To date, very few scientific studies have tested the potential health benefits of baobab fruit. The available research includes a 2009 report published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Looking at data on the nutritional properties of baobab, the report’s authors found that baobab fruit is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C. However, since little is known about how efficiently the human body can absorb the antioxidants found in baobab fruit, the report’s authors call for more research on the health effects of consuming baobab.

In an earlier report (published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in 2004), scientists determined that baobab fruit contains significant amounts of essential minerals (including calcium, potassium, and magnesium).







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The African Art Market in Kasane, Botswana

I went with Alejandro (She is from Spain, but works in one of the expensive lodges in Botswana) from Livingstone, Zambia to Kasane, Botswana. We met Justice and Ntema and we were immediately touched by the same heartbeat we have. So we stayed together and shared a good and deep time with fantastic international cooking and sharing ideas over a new world with happy and autonom living people.

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Justice, Ntema(Mambo) and Alejandra at the side of the shop. Ntema with his book soul seeds.

The shop is situated in a little area with other nice shops, where you for example can rent bikes or command a bag sewed at your destinated seizes.

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Kasane is situated in the Chobe game reserve. The warthogs have entered the city area and are running all over, such as the elephants, but those mostly at night!
In the picture right hand one of Justices nice flower pots made out of wire and recycled plastic bags.

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Justice is versatile. He does wire art out of recycled cans, beadwork and furniture making out local natural resources such as palm leaves to make very comfortable and relaxing chairs. He together with Garwe, they even recycle broken chairs and uses steel wire. He does also landscaping and he designs the surounding of the market with raised beds and flower pots make out of steel wire.

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A girafe made out of cut cans and a Baobab tree.

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Two of the chairs made by Justice, left hand out of steel, right hand a recycled one.

Ntema from Matsaudi village is a multitalent as well, he is a businessman, a poet and a musician. Here one of his poems. Its like permaculture in art!



Let me green like an avocado—
And bleed not to the day after tomorrow,
Let me green like an after shadow—
And seed grow to the day beyond its shadow,
Unto you need I tell and say to my deepest heart—
When time reveals its patterns in deepest talk,
Let me, to a hand that giveth mine an avocado—
And my heart calms when life greens to a distant walk,
Let me feel the taste of this avocado—
Where feathers of friendship fly beyond today in stalk,
The wings to dreams of life far than near when it downs—
But near than far when it rises in humble songs,
Let me, to a day of time and run—
When at yours my ears had become,
Behold! The day shall come—
When hands shall dance in arms,
Like birds of the wild in their wilderness song—
To our ears their song had gone,
To the natural mystics of life between the unknown—
And the shallow, our time shall tell to its shadow,
When music, a silent song had come—
And my eyes crawl in such song at long,
And my mouth waters for an avocado—
Greener like seeds of greener arrows,
And my mouth is flavourless, but my eyes follow—
Each palm as I peel off the avocado,
How could I have known?
When life could I have told?
From whence it comes, a journal of the old—
Tales of sustenance to the times that our life they hold,
But my mouth had known—
And how could not it told?
As I green to an avocado—
And greener than the day before and tomorrow.

Onalethuso Petruss Ntema
(Mambo de Poet)
Kasane, Botswana

You can purchase his first self-published anthology “SOUL SEEDS: Reality& Mental Inspiration poetry” published through Xlibris Publishing LLC (UK) at:



From The Patriot on Sunday newspaper, dated March 16, 2014, by Keitebe Kgosikebatho:

Kasane based spoken word poet, Onalethuso Ntema, has published a poetry anthology which he says is set to change and inspire people’s life.

According to the poet who goes by the stage name Mambo, the 162-paged book titled ‘Soul Seeds’ is intended to awaken the soul and spirit of readers who in this case he says could range from just school going children, young professionals, parents and just everybody. “My poems cater for people of all ages, different religious background and political views,” he said.

Inspired by everyday events, the poems touch on various themes like love, pain, grief, emotional intelligence, beauty and culture. A resident of the tourism town of Kasane, he says he found it also befitting to address issues of wildlife conservation and environment through his poetry prowess.

“As titled, “Soul Seeds” explores elemental functions of thought, reasoning and reality. It analyses life and how each of the seeds sustain or defeat the soul and the need for personal discipline and appreciation. The imagery gathers in one basket the different emotions that paint a closest matter of attention to the mind state and collectedness,” reads an extract from the book’s overview. He said since the book is a reflection of situations, he wanted to render advice and life-skills through his poems. “The words are recited in the first person, to really stress and drive the point home; to give the poem some verve,” he said. Though the poems are written in English, the young poet said plans are underway to translate them into other languages like Chinese, French, Deutch and Spanish. Vernacular languages are also to be provided for according to Mambo. In fact, he said he has infused Shiyeyi (his mother tongue), Sesubiya/ Chikuhane and Hambukushu into some of the poems published in Soul Seeds.

The 29-year old young man said he is an artist at heart. Not only is he a spoken word poet but he is also a Reggae music phenomenon who has made strides on the local music scene with more than two albums to his name.

“Music and poetry is what I do, I am a fully-fledged artist,” quipped Mambo. The University of Botswana graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Sociology) said he left his job at the Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditswanelo): Land Rights Project, in Kasane to focus on his artistic calling. He is now self-employed and runs his companies Mambo music & Poetry, Mambo Cleaning Services and Mambo African Art Market, the latter being a designer curio shop that deals in cultural artworks and souvenier.

Finest Reggae music from Mambo’have a look!

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Lisa Pieterse and her food forest in Siavonga (Lake Kariba, Zambia)

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On the way to Lisa the great Lake Karibu. We pass also by the school, where Lisa planted a lot of fruit trees. Every week, she welcomes students from the school to teach them permaculture farming.

Lisa has more than 300 different types of trees in her garden. She inherits the love to garden from her grandfather. He was the first white man, who settled down in Siavonga. He founded the Eagles Rest Camp, where I was staying, as a possibility for his family and friends to come to visit.

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On 2011 she started this food forrest. Left side you see a cashew nut-tree, right hand a coffee tree.

I was especially impressed by her Moringa tree forest. In three years this great trees were growing so high! Lisa is harvesting all the time! And in the nice light shade under this nitrogen fixers you can plant nearly  everything! If you cut a branch and stick it in the soil it will regrow! So it’s very easy to grow new trees.

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Lisa build a little storehouse to dry the Moringa leaves. She told about great results of Moringa treatments. It’s a great supplement for people with huge diseases, like Malaria or Aids. The doctors in the clinic were really astonished about the good blood levels after some weeks of regularly taken Moringa tree. Also children profit very good. The school results from the children increased strongly!

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First time I see ginger  plants!                     Marigolds are a very good insect repellent.

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Lisa grows a lot of coconut trees. Left hand a Sheabutter tree! And this is only a range of her divers plants and trees. She achieve to grow everything, so she’s making a little biodiversity paradise on her side! And her success is proved: She 2013 she won the Siavonga District agriculture award!

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One of her compost heaps. Right hand some of her products: Banana bread, dried mangos and mushrooms and pickled sweet pepper.

One good tip at the end: Soak 125 gram of garlic in two liter to fight aphids and the diamond back moth!


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Best Biogas in Lusaka and Livingstone, Zambia

I got the tip from a German economy researcher  to visit this bio gas man. I was already wondering, that there are  no bio gas digester to find at all. In Germany there are so many! 25% of the needed energy is already produced out of  renewable sources. So no wonder that this man is a German!

20140329_155948Here you see Dr Thomas  Krimmel. He started the enterprise in 2008. Bio gas is an ideal permaculture tool, because it’s very efficient. It serves three different aims:
1. waste(blackwater and everything organic is recycled
2.gas is produced
3.precious fertilizer is produced

20140329_152652     Biogas digester for small and big scales.

This container is placed under the earth. In one of the shafts the black water and all sorts of garden and kitchen cuttings can be placed.
From the website: Under anaerobic conditions methane bacteria convert the C and H components of any organic waste material into CH4 (methane) and CO2, with water and all micronutrients remaining as biogas sludge. This sludge can then be used as organic fertiliser. All N/P/K elements and other soil nutrients are still remaining, dissolved in the dark, liquid effluent that comes out after the methane bacteria have done their job in around 15-20 days, without any unpleasant smell. While the biogas provides a very convenient source of heat energy, the sludge use presents an additional economic and environmental benefit.
In the middle the gas hose and though the second shaft the fertilizer can be taken out.|It’s a real simple system. It can be build  – with the appropriate knowledge – out of local material, nothing special is needed!

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Here the in going shaft of his own domestic digester, the place, where the dome is and the out going shaft.
These banana tree and yam or maniok plant is regulary poured with the fertilizer of the biogas digester. And look how huge they are!
These banana tree and yam (or manioc) plant are regularly poured with the fertilizer of the biogas digester. And look how huge they are!#

This same man, Dr. Thomas Krimmel helped also to construct another big bio gas facility in Livingstone, Zambia.



Bertrand was so friendly to show me around. Under the hills are the domes. There are three, one after the other.

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The water hyacinths are coming from these dams, where the town is cleaning the black water. The town is actually very happy, that the plants are taken out, because if not, they have to do it themselves. A long pipe leads to the dome.

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Here the gas is taken out. Living falls biopower is giving gas cooker to the habitants around and provides them with the biogas. They sell the gas (to the same price as charcol) only from the moment, the cooker is amortised. There is still a big miss consum of charcol for cooking all over Zambia. Unfortenately you need big trees to make charcol. Its forbidden to cut them, but there are lots of illegal cuttings. All over the country roads you find the charcol seller on the roads!

Here an extract from the Forestry Department of Zambia

Charcoal is the main commercial woodfuel in Zambia because unlike firewood, which can easily be collected within certain vicinities, it fetches good market prices. Charcoal is also preferred with regard to the easiness with which it can be handled and the cleaner combustion experienced when burning the fuel. The major problem with charcoal, however, is in the way it is produced and the kind of losses incurred in its production. The earth kilns used are mostly 10% efficient which implies that in the process of producing charcoal from wood, 90% by weight is lost. From 100 tonnes of wood, therefore, one expects to get only about 10 tonnes of charcoal (Kapiyo, 1996).

However, there are localised sales of firewood in peri-urban and highly populated areas. In Lusaka, firewood is on high demand especially for illicit beer brewing and energy for water and cooking. This is because some people in the area can now no longer afford the high prices of charcoal, which is resulting from reduced supplies. Most people would therefore rather reserve charcoal for use only on pertinent and essential activities such as cooking and space heating during cold nights. Collection for firewood is thus putting pressure even on smaller dimension trees and this is beginning to have a negative effect on both the pricing and regeneration of surrounding forests.

Funerals in urban centres also consume a bigger tonnage of total firewood supply. The firewood is used in lighting and space warming for mourners and over the years, this has become a tradition that is widespread across the country. With the death rate ever on the upswing, we expect increased trade in firewood that would in most cases be imported from rural areas. With diminishing supplies within reach and increasing distances and transportation costs, prices and trade in firewood and charcoal will continue to increase. However, these two commodities will continue to be cheaper alternative energy sources because the devices used for their conversion to heat energy are still cheaper than the costs for installation and purchase of appliances for facilities such as electricity and biogas production for example. These analyses are based on empirical observations.

Other empirical observations done in Kasama by the Forestry Department (1999), have revealed that the brick making industry consumes large quantities of firewood which is either harvested illegally from Forest Reserves or by paying for licence fees at the Forestry Department offices. The firewood is mostly collected by individuals who are not involved in the brick making business – these then sell the firewood to the brick makers. The Forestry Department does not know the actual pricing levels since the people involved do their business illegally. However, a cord (3m3) of firewood under licence issued by the Forestry Department costs ZK5,400. The burnt bricks industry is offering a cheaper alternative construction material to cement blocks, but this is rather creating an imbalance in the consumption of firewood. As a result of this, many areas within the vicinities of the town centre are now devoid of trees. It was also found that small-scale bakeries consume a greater percentage of the charcoal and firewood offered for sale.
Households which use both woodfuel and electricity have been found to be more cost effective as they can switch from one energy source to another depending on income levels, type of food cooked, alternating costs of woodfuel and the purpose for which the energy is required (i.e. for lighting, heating, boiling water, etc.). The type of energy used also depends on the availability and cost of devices such as electric stoves, charcoal braziers, electric heaters and electronic devices such as TV and Cassette Recorders, etc.
 Charcoal unlike firewood, is offered for sale in almost all corners of the country. Surveys conducted in the PFAP Provinces of Central, Copperbelt and Luapula revealed that trade in charcoal is a major livelihood system (Kalumiana, 1996).


The liquid coming out of the last dome  is still cleaned three times. It´s a great fertilizer. So Living falls Biopower has a lot of farm land around to suck it in.

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Zambia still imports bananas, so there is a big market. The first bananas are already flourished.

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The biogas cooker and Chisco Simweena, the owner of Living Falls Biopower. (One of the rare black african business men, I found)


I wish you great sucess and approval from the civis of Livingstone !

For further (and better explanations!) have a look at: http://www.livingfallsbiopower.com

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The Kasisi Agricultural Training Center in Lusaka, Zambia

From the website Ecology and Jesuits in communication:

October 24, 2011

Paul Desmarais, SJ

Developing local strategies to conserve environmental resources, and providing lifelong education in sustainable farming: these are the central tasks of the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Zambia.  Situated about 30 km northeast of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital and largest city, the Centre retrains rural subsistence farmers in organic agriculture.  Operated by members of the Society of Jesus, KATC follows its mission to empower rural communities to improve their livelihoods through research, training, extension courses, cooperative development and market linkages.

KATC was established in 1974 and initially offered a two-year course for families in conventional (i.e. industrial) agriculture.  In 1990, it shifted to organic, sustainable agriculture and moved to short courses.  Currently, KATC offers a variety of three- to five-day and two-week courses in organic agriculture, including residential, on-farm courses and study circles.

Principally, KATC teaches farming techniques that do not require fertilisers and pesticides and that require reduced water input or irrigation.  The reasons are obvious: fertilisers and pesticides are expensive and a simple farmer cannot easily afford them.  Furthermore, the reservoirs are drying up.  Within 35 years of “trial and error,” the members of KATC became pioneers in developing the knowledge of sustainable agriculture, and in developing simple, inexpensive, yet effective tools for small-scale agribusiness.

KATC’s five-day courses provide a broad knowledge in basic challenges of subsistence agriculture, such as the production of organic vegetables and cotton, biological pest management, agro-forestry, beekeeping, but also in administrative tasks like farm management and internal control systems.  Our programmes aim at training rural families as well as agricultural extension officers for government and field staff of NGOs.  The participants come from Zambia and from neighbouring countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe.  Given the fact that seven main languages are spoken in Zambia and in view of the linguistic plurality of the catchment area, the courses also have a strong integrative aspect that can be challenging if members of different language groups share the same course.  Generally, the training is held in English and the vernacular.

In addition to residential training, KATC offers village-based training.  Some staff members offer extension services in the district.  KATC works with approximately 1,200 small-scale farmers.  Some research on organic agriculture is also done at KATC and in the villages.  A workshop in “Appropriate Technology” researches and develops equipment and tools suitable and affordable for use in rural areas, e.g. fuel-efficient stoves.  This workshop also offers the repair and maintenance of farmers’ equipment.

KATC has always relied on donors for its work.  Since it is becoming increasingly difficult to fund core expenses, the centre is expanding into Production Units.  Currently, it has a dairy herd of 30 animals and sells the milk to a cheese factory.  It also set up some irrigation schemes and there are 80 hectares presently under irrigation (next year hopefully 160 hectares), thanks to two dams supplying the freshwater.

The centre has about 20 staff members who come from different institutions and possess various different skills.  Currently, we are considering becoming a tertiary-level educational institution.  This will offer a professional degree in organic agriculture and certainly strengthen the co-operative movement, extension education, and appropriate technologies.

The author is the Founder and Director of Kasisi Agricultural School, Zambia. Contact: paul.desmaraissj@gmail.com For further information, visit KATC’s website that offers also a broad survey of educational materials for download.



Charles, a Jesuit and friend of Adam was so kind to bring us to the Center. In the middle Father Bruno, Kondrat SJ superior of the Jesuit Community at Kasisi  in front of the newly refurbished Jesuit house!

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WP_20140324_036     WP_20140324_004It’s a big side, with schools and little shops.

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Bridget was so nice to show us around.    One of the classrooms at work!

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In the picture right hand a Moringa tree forest. It looks like that, because the Moringa leaves are regularly harvested.


Moringa is the most nutritious plant in the world. Already the ancient Ayurveda tradition says, that over three hundred diseases can be cured by this tree and the modern science agree!

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These pictures are from wikipedia. Look at this magnificant old tree from Namibia
see also : http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/the-moringa-tree

The dryland zone (no watering) is 1 hectar big. It’s planted in crop rotation.

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Field of Sorghum and Glincidae                        Maize and pumpkin.

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Sorghum                              Sesame seed

A pigeon tree, named so, because there are always pigeons sitting on it.

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Luffa sponge

The garden site. Big, good crop , well irrigated and nicely mulched!

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How compost is made in Kasisi: Green manure for nitrogen and dry manure for carbon will be layed. Add old compost and clay and cover with grass.  After tree days the heap is heated up and should be turned within some days at all three or four times.

I hope, I remembered that right, Bridget, if not please rectify!


Adam is already illuminated! From the big Bamboo behind him , from the sparkling spirit of the Jesuits or from the beautiful Kasisi center?

Thank you very much, Bruno, Charles and Bridget for your generous hospitality! (In this picture Veronica Mwala (who is a banker) and her delightful son Siamana.)


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The Tikondane( = we love each other) community center in Katete, Zambia

Tikondane is a community centre run for and by the people of Katete. It has a thriving community school and adult education programme and there are various income generating activities such as the garden and skill training initiatives, as well as important community development work, the implementation of which Tikondane has pioneered. Tikondane is a gem for the tourist interested in finding the real Africa outside the usual lodges or hostels. Today there are 84 people from the surrounding mud huts working in some 20 income-generating activities, getting their skill training on-the-job and acquiring various formal qualifications that will make an actual difference directing not only their own lives, but also those of their fellow Zambians towards a positive future. (http://www.tikondane.org)

WP_20140321_001  WP_20140321_002Tikondane started 1999 with this veranda as an open classroom.

Elke is the moreover Katete  well known mother of the project. She spent kindly two hours with me to explain the project! Thanks Elke and good continuation. The little moyo is always with me!

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An oil mill for soya and other beans.

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In the picture right hand the medicinal and help center, the Humboldt House.

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The school is now driven by teachers from the government.  Elke is not really happy about this. I heard that also from another little private school, the Old Mac Donalds Farm school in Lusaka. A school is privately started, because there are no or not affordable schools in the surrounding and when the school reach a certain size its overtaken by the government. Often the standard goes than down!

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The school garden and the playing field. One day weekly the students learn organic farming.

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It was still rainy season, so the open classroom was surrounded by water. One student appreciated the silence for a good learning time.

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Nice and clean goats and rabbits stables. In the rural areas the animals are mostly without a stable. They walk free over the ground of the whole community and eat the crops even from the neighbors. So many families even don’t start a garden because of this!

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This stove needs less wood or charcoal to cook! In the picture right hand a nice and big oven.

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In this little hut in the first picture the lunch for all the 700 students is cooked!

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The permaculture house garden.

WP_20140321_074    WP_20140321_072The sun oven, a donation from Denmark.  We stayed 2 days. It was amazing to see the whole day people passing by in every direction, a real livant community life! Curious? You can visit Tikondane at it’s lodge or come as a volunteer for longer.
Please contact: http://tikondane.org

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The Kusamala Institut for Permaculture in Lilongwe, Malawi

For all Malawian communities to have the ability and knowledge to creatively pursue their own path towards achieving food security and diversity, economic stability, and productive healthy environments.
Kuti midzi ya aMalawi yonse ikhale ndi kuthekela ndi chidziwitso chotsatila mwaluso njira zawo pofuna kufikila kukhala ndi chakudya chokwanira ndi chosiyanasiyana, chuma chokhazikika, komanso chilengedwe chabwino chopindulitsa.

To demonstrate and advocate for low-input, income generating permaculture and agroecology systems; to extend these systems into local communities through education and outreach; and to research and evaluate their potential to improve Malawian livelihoods.
To create a Malawian-run organization that is committed to improving organizational effectiveness through internal career development and specialized training that builds leaders in communities, policy, and government.
Kuwonetsela ndi kulimbikitsa njira zotsika mtengo, zopezela chuma za pemakacha ndi ulimi wosamala chilengedwe; kufalitsa njira zimenezi kuti zifikile madela akumidzi kudzela mu maphunziro ndi ntchito za m’midzi; komanso kuchita kafukufuku ndi kalondolondo pa kuthekela kwake potukula miyoyo ya aMalawi
Kukonza bungwe loyendetsedwa ndi aMalawi limene liri lodzipeleka potukula ntchito zake kudzela mu kuphunzitsa anthu ake wogwira ntchito, komanso maphunziro apadela owumba atsogoleri m’madela akumidzi, wokonza ndondomeko ndi malamulo adziko
Founded in 2009, Kusamala houses Malawi’s largest permaculture demonstration site, Nature’s Gift Permaculture Centre. Through the Centre’s demonstrations, Kusamala educates individuals and communities on how to improve nutrition, income generation and environmental health. Through grants and programs, Kusamala conducts outreach, research and advocacy with the aim to show the viability of permaculture as a local and national agricultural strategy.
In a country where 80% of the population are subsistence farmers, Kusamala demonstrates how locally available resources can meet human needs while improving quality of life both for people and the environment.
The Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology is a local, non-governmental organization that promotes household-level permaculture and agroecology systems in Malawi through demonstration, education, outreach and advocacy.

Text from the webside: http://www.kusamala.org (indeed a very good and informative side, have a look!)

Adam, left hand, my traveling mate for nearly two weeks accompanied me. He is a Irish nurse with a spectacular character. Unfortunately he lost all the time against me by playing bao! 🙂 Marc, right hand, a volunteer for one year, showed us kindly around.

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I haven’t seen such  a good and nice explanation before!

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A huge and well maintained garden zone.  On the picture right hand: Comfrey and sweet potatoes.

A nice tree tomato tree! Here  you can see, Frank, how else you can eat your tree tomatoes:
Ripe tree tomatoes may be merely cut in half lengthwise, sprinkled with sugar and served for eating by scooping out the flesh and pulp. Or the halves may be seasoned and grilled or baked for 15 minutes for service as a vegetable. The fruit should not be cut on a wooden or other permeable surface, as the juice will make an indelible stain. For other purposes, the skin must be removed and this is easily done by pouring boiling water over the fruit and letting it stand for 4 minutes, then peeling is begun at the stem end. The peeled fruit can then be sliced and the slices added to stews or soups, or served with a sprinkling of sugar and perhaps with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Seasoned with salt and pepper, the slices can serve as sandwich-filling or may be used in salads. Chopped slices are blended with cream cheese and used as sandwich spread. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/tree_tomato.html

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The nursery nicely in the shade of trees.


Amaranth has been cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years.[1] The yield of grain amaranth is comparable to rice or maize. Because the plant has continued to grow as a weed since that time, its genetic base has been largely maintained. It has been imported to Africa already long time.
The name derives from the plant’s tendency to sprout where hogs are pasture-fed. Although both its leaves and its seeds are edible, pigweed amaranth has not been cultivated as a food crop.
During the pre-Columbian period, the Aztecs cultivated amaranth as a staple grain crop, according to Kate Seely, a co-founder and the president of the board of Puente. But things changed when the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
In addition to its use as a core food crop, amaranth had been used in a religious context. “Native folks would pop the seeds and mix them with sacrificial human blood,” said Seely, who is now based in Oakland, California. “They would form the seeds into sculptures and then eat them in religious ceremonies. This was seen as pagan [by the Spanish], so it was outlawed.”
Amaranth crops were seized, fields were burned, and those who tried to grow the plant were punished. According to Noll, the locals replaced their former staple by eating more corn.
But amaranth cultivation did survive in a few isolated pockets. The grain lived on in a traditional treat called alegria (joy), in which popped, whole-grain amaranth is made into bars with honey and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. The bars are often enjoyed during Day of the Dead and other festivals.

Marc showed us a Rosella bush and he offered me also some seeds.
Rosella is a very versatile plant. Not only is the succulent calyx used for making jams and sauces,they are also dried to make tea. The flowers are edible and the petals make an attractive addition to summer salads. The tender young leaves may be cooked as spinach and fibre from the stems may be used as a substitute for jute. http://www.annettemcfarlane.com/Stories/rosella.pdf

Here a nice form of water harvesting: in the middle of the bed is a pathway to a little circle. When it rains, the water can enter and stay.

A beautiful chicken house.

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The site is located some kilometers out of Lilongwe near the president property. The Kusamala Institut is the biggest permaculture side in Malawi. It offers a wide range of opportunitys to learn.

I hope we stay in contact and we can profit further on from your experience! Thank you for the nice soap!

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