The project entailed the establishment of a Permaculture Garden at the Bhambayi Community Hall. This project is an element within the Bhambayi Organic Farming Project (described elsewhere in the Permaculture Portfolio).
The intention of the Permaculture Garden was to create awareness of and demonstrate some Permaculture designs for the surrounding Bhambayi Organic Farming Project. This project was proposed on behalf of the Newlands Mashu Permaculture Learning Centre (NMPLC) to the Housing Department of eThewkini Municipality who at the time were starting to implement sustainable settlements. The project was intended to demonstrate some delivery within the area until such time as funding for the larger Bhambayi Organic Farming Project has been secured.
The design process that was used followed a simple survey, analysis, design, implement and maintain process, known by the acronym SADIM, as shown in
Figure 1 - Design Process
The site survey entailed a walkabout the site and confirmation with the representative from the Housing Department at eThewkini Municipality regarding the funding commitment and scope of work. This followed with an analysis of the site challenges and attributes, such as, slopes, existing building plans, discovery of informal grave sites, site boundaries, and, the surprise of a high yielding but capped nearby borehole.
The ensuing Permaculture site design proposed a system of rainwater harvesting swales planted with vetiver grass and slightly sloping towards banana pits along the site boundary to mitigate against soil erosion and stormwater flow onto the adjacent property. A number of demonstration plant guilds were also proposed, together with some indigenous shade trees and fruit trees.
The Permaculture design was implemented by an aspiring Permaculture extension officer from NMPLC who was given free rein to provide hands on training and mentoring to 3 community members who were recruited to implement and thereafter maintain the Permaculture Garden. I was responsible for briefing the Permaculture extension officer and supervised the implementation of the project with NMPLC.
The Permaculture Garden was maintained for a while but was not sustained by the 3 community members. The client also failed to pay outstanding fees to NMPLC for this project and a decision was taken to devote attention to other resourced projects. Nonetheless, despite this lack of maintenance, the vetiver swales, banana pits, and, indigenous and fruit trees remain, and with some clearing the Permaculture Garden can be easily restored.
The Permaculture Garden was established but now needs to be restored and thereafter maintained by the eThekwini Municipality, who own this facility, as well as some keen community volunteers.
This project managed to empower 3 community members who established the Permaculture Garden under the direction of a Permaculture extension officer who gained substantial supervisory and teaching skills through the project.
This project did manage to demonstrate how rainwater harvesting swales work and what vegetable and herb guilds look like. The 3 local community members have since neglected the project, but, the robust rainwater harvesting system is still intact and the project can be restored very easily.
NMPLC managed to demonstrate that a simple Permaculture Garden can be established with very few resources, but, requires the dedicated aftercare by the municipality and keen community volunteers.