On the weekend of the 23rd to 24th of April, the usually quiet guest house of the Sustainability Institute was filled with excitement and laughter from the 46 young women attending an in-residency training programme for young women in agriculture. This programme was delivered as a partnership between the Sustainability Institute and the World Bank, with 46 participants aged 14-18 years attending from farmworker communities and high schools from Lynedoch Valley and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.
Through an energizing process of practical demonstrations and workshop groups, the aim of the training was to provide the young women with exposure to basic agroecology concepts and tangible organic farming skills in order to activate their interest and awareness about the many pathways to a career in agriculture.
At the same time, the programme sought to expose participants to opportunities available to female entrepreneurs in the agricultural space and to break the stigma in South Africa of livelihoods working on the land through exposure to positive role models
Throughout the weekend, participants engaged in fun and informative activities including training on:
- Growing consciousness of local food around the world and the key environmental challenges in South Africa
- Developing skills in organic food production, composting and backyard gardening
- Cooking and healthy eating
- Converting produce into a product
- Improving mental health, healing and wellbeing
In addition to the immediate benefit of training to the participants, the programme was also designed as a dual process of a “train-the-trainer” mentorship programme for emerging farmers from the Sustainability Institute’s Agroecology Academy.
Lead facilitators Rosie Downey from the Sustainability Institute, Inka Schomer and Sarah Diouri from the World Bank mentored 9 emerging young farmers to run training workshops. This aimed to develop their leadership and facilitation skills with a focus on confidence, teamwork, adaptability and designing a curriculum based on student-centred learning that is relevant to youth and the South African context.
This two-day in-residency training was the first of four sessions the young women and emerging farmers will be involved in over a 4 -month period. In addition, participants will attend a variety of field trips in the Western Cape and a CV/Career training workshop at the Sustainability Institute.