Inspired to design Permaculture food growing systems
Noloyiso (Nolo) Gwangqa (interviewed by Zanele Majebe).
Nolo was born in a rural area in the Eastern Cape called Willowvale – a town considered to be as notorious as Philippi. Despite her upbringing in the informal settlements her rooted spirit for conserving, preserving and restoring nature grew as a passion then later became a career. This 29 year old nature custodian has proven to her peers that permaculture gardening cannot be defined as a senior citizen‘s hobby. It can be defined as most ecologist would say “an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living’’. Amazed by this young woman’s love for nature I tracked her down to find out more about her career in nature conservation.
‘’I don’t think I chose permaculture. I think permaculture chose me.”
Considering your background in Nature Conservation and the fact that there are different fields in conservation that one could tap into, for example you could have chosen sitting in the office comfortably writing environmental laws? You chose Permaculture. Why permaculture?
‘’I don’t think I chose permaculture. I think permaculture chose me. As a Gondwana Alive consultant I have been working with communities, and getting people to connect with nature is something that I have found most fulfilling. Permaculture involves observing, interacting with learning directly from nature. This is the ability to see how patterns of natural systems operate and evolve.’’
What exactly is Permaculture?
Tell us how can any other person or community be able to benefit from it, besides producing more in small spaces?
‘’Permaculture is the way of assisting humans to make best decisions about the sustainability of the homes we build, where we source our energy and where or how we source our food, clothes. That is – everything needed should be produced as close to where we live as possible, with very little impact to the natural environment. Permaculture is a practical tool for transforming our world into a place that produces most of what we need, which stimulates economies that empower everybody, which recognises the value of life and works towards creating better human cultures’’
Permaculture is a practical tool for transforming our world into a place that produces most of what we need
What are some of the organisations that you have worked with in this field of work and what is the most exciting thing that you have achieved or done?
‘’I have worked with SEED as their student applying my permaculture skills by: Designing permaculture gardens in different communities in Mitchell’s Plain, putting into practice water and soil management, composting and worm farming, garden layout, organic particles, food forest creation, pest management and seed saving’’
Any partnerships you are looking forward to? Or what are some of the organisation or companies would you like to partner with?
‘’It would definitely be Pick n Pay, as there is an alignment between the Pick n Pay Ackerman Foundation and Gondwana Alive. For instance Gondwana Alive is a Non-Profit Company working with communities to create sustainable jobs that help our planet. This is specifically what our GrowGreen and GreenPaths programmes are all about. Youth development and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit are other aspects of the programmes. Pick n Pay supports similar causes.
We have also been exploring a partnership with the Community Works Programme that we are really excited about.
Youth development and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit are other aspects of the programmes
What you can do #2
Check through your gardening liquids and fertilizers, etc, and throw out any that are not organic.
What you can do #3
Get a group of friends together and invite Nolo to one of your garden’s to do a workshop. Email her at the address in What you can Do #1. Or support her powerful vision by clicking here.
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