Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they have green thumbs and teach children about permaculture and how humans can live in harmony with the land.
When SEED founder, Leigh Brown, started the organisation in the Western Cape 20 years ago, she imagined that it could connect children to food.
Based at Rocklands Primary School in Mitchells Plain, SEED aims to uplift communities by educating people on how to localise their food systems, grow micro economies and give unemployed youth a chance to thrive.
“We found this really big need of bringing, at that point, the outcomes-based curriculum alive. [There was] this hunger, and I guess you could call it food poverty, or lack of food sovereignty, among school children.”
There is power in resilience
The SEED programmes are permaculture programmes, where students are taught not just permaculture design principles, but also the ethical principles that underscore the concept, explains programme manager, Stephanie Mullins.
“[I’m] teaching kids alternative skills of survival, and teaching them where the food comes from. I’m also teaching them how the body operates with food and the environment.”
Central to the teachings at Seed is the principle of resilience. “Resilience is basically just ‘how do you bounce back from the bottom?’ And ‘how do you maintain a stable lifestyle within your capacity?’”
Mullins finds that people often undergo a mental shift as they advance through the programmes. They start questioning their role in their communities once they realise that they are actually able to contribute to the collective good.
“The main questions we get are ‘Who am I?’, ‘Where do I fit in?’, ‘What is my contribution?’ So [permaculture] is also figuring out where in your community, your society, your home you fit in. And where you see yourself. So, it’s very philosophical, but those are the questions that are answered within. We just provide that little springboard to get people thinking.”
Growing and showing up
Educational programmes are not the only SEED projects currently running in the community. They also run a number of enterprises that assist their immediate community – this includes the SEED kitchen.
The organisation’s operations manager, Nicole van Heerden, says that the people running the kitchen are SEED alumni creating opportunity from the skills they had learnt in the programme.
Through the kitchen, SEED is able to offer community members sponsored meals at a lower cost. Potential donors can contribute to feeding those in need by sponsoring meals.
Making things Easy Peasy
To make organic vegetables more accessible, the organisation is also running a seedling project called Easy Peasy. For as little as R60, customers can buy seedlings for organic vegetables that are in season.
Easy Peasy is headed by Gail Bailey, who says that their seedlings make gardening easier. “We set it up for you ‘easy peasy’, that’s why it’s called Easy Peasy. You don’t have to worry about anything. You can just plug [them] in your planter boxes or if you have space in your garden.”
The Easy Peasy project works on a subscription basis and caters to both the novice gardener and the professional. Bailey, whose primary role is to grow the seedlings, works with a production manager to ensure that her planting schedule is correct.
“I’ve got the production manager that works out the whole cycle of when and what to sell and during which season. That trickles down to me, then we implement.”
- This article was written by Nicole Ludolph and first published by Food For Mzansi.