Our People

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AllFacilities & GroundsReception & AdminResearch & AdvisoryNourish: Venues, Visits & CateringYouth & Community ProgrammesCommunication & MarketingLynedoch Children’s HouseLynedoch Community SchoolLiving Soils Community Learning FarmSenior Leadership TeamLearning ExperiencesFinance
COMMUNICATION OFFICER

Amelia Pretorius

LEAD ASSOCIATE

Angela Coetzee

Trained Adult 6 - 9 Environment

Atiyyah Cariem

IT Assistant

Cameron Gordon

Research & Advisory Associate

Candice Kelly

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Christelle Jansen

FINANCIAL OFFICER

Clayton Sauls

Assistant Youth Coordinator

Duran Byman

Digital & Design Assistant

Fiona Dunbar

GROUNDSMAN

Fumanekile Qhinga

Admin Assistant

Gretchen Matthys

Teaching Assistant

Janine Rozaan Jaftha

CO-DIRECTOR

Jess Schulschenk

Lynedoch Community School Coordinator

Jessica Eley

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Julia Jansen

DRIVER

Kerneels Claasen

Green Café Supervisor

Khanyiswa Wem

Groundsman

Lawrence

Receptionist

Liesel van Niekerk

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Litha Magida

Local Wild Food Hub Coordinator

Loubie Rusch

Teaching Assistant

Magdalene de Villiers

DRIE GEWELS CARETAKER

Makka Johnson

ASSISTANT - EARLY LEARNING

Mandisa Sakawali

HOUSEKEEPING

Marriam Jacobs (Maya )

Maintenance

Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac)

KITCHEN ASSISTANT

Megan Mavandal

PROJECT ASSISTANT: LEARNING FARM

Mpumie Cebekhulu

Research & Strategy Development Analyst

Mulweli Nethengwe

Chef

Noma-Afrika Masela

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Phuthuma Mgu

FINANCIAL CONTROLLER

Rene Human-Nefdt

Nourish Programme Coordinator

Rico Wessels

COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

Rosaline Van Niekerk

Assistant - Early Learning

Shannen Jassen

Class Assistant

Shannon Daniels

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Sindiswa Mdodana

Green Café Barista

Sinethemba Mayongo

Groundsman

Siviwe (Mavesto) Sodlulashe

Office Manager

Stella Burger

LEARNING EXPERIENCE DESIGNER

Storm Meintjes

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Thandiwe Mtyingizani

CO-DIRECTOR

Vanessa von der Heyde

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Vuyolwethu Zicina

Cook

Yolanda Mhlawuli

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

COMMUNICATION OFFICER

Amelia Pretorius

She holds a BTech in Public Relations Management and has more than 17 years experience in the communication field.

Amelia has extensive experience in the areas of internal and external communication, strategy and strategy communication, change communication, branding, project planning, and management and reputation management, gained while working in the Public Relations, Financial Services, and NGO environments. In her free time, she is a keen gardener, enjoys cooking, crafts, reading, hiking and travelling when the opportunity presents itself.

LEAD ASSOCIATE

Angela Coetzee

As a Lead Associate Angela oversees a range of research and consulting projects at the Sustainability Institute. Angela has proven experience in the fields of development projects, entrepreneurial education, food systems and sustainability. She is particularly interested in work that focuses on the intersections between entrepreneurial education and sustainability. Angela has a robust understanding of entrepreneurship education, mainly in tertiary education institutions in the African context. Prior to the SI, Angela spent a decade in entrepreneurship development at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (AGOF), a philanthropic initiative that invests deeply in entrepreneurship development in Southern Africa. At AGOF her work ranged from programme management to communications and multimedia data collection for mission-driven development.

As a food systems researcher (and a passionate chef) Angela is particularly interested in the claims made for more sustainable alternatives and in the role that power relations play in the food system. Her Masters, therefore, focused on production claims made for more sustainable chicken production in the Western Cape, including how this impacts on sector development.

Her recent work includes:

  • Acting as project director for the Pan African Institute of Water and Energy Sciences’ higher education entrepreneurial development project based in Algeria
  • Directing the GIZ-funded Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa project
  • Assisting with research for the Southern Africa Food Policy “Stories of Challenge” project
  • Acting as co-investigator for the development of Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food-based dietary guidelines for Tanzania
  • Contributing to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s Food and Nutrition Strategy

Angela holds a BA in Value Policy Studies and an MPhil in Sustainable Development from the University of Stellenbosch.

Trained Adult 6 - 9 Environment

Atiyyah Cariem

Atiyyah joined the Lynedoch Community School in July 2022. She is a qualified 3-6 year old Montessori Directress and a 6-12 year old Montessori Guide. She also holds a BCom degree in Law and Management and a PGCE to teach Business Studies, Economic Management Studies and Life Sciences at a high school level. Atiyyah has nine years teaching experience in environments ranging from toddlers to matric and have taught in both traditional and Montessori environments.

IT Assistant

Cameron Gordon

Cameron is our dedicated and reliable IT expert. He began his journey with the SI as part of our Youth-in-Transition programme, where he was chosen to participate in a skills internship with Life and Vision for Kids. Cameron’s passion for IT and computers has been evident from an early age, and this internship provided him with the opportunity to develop his skills, gain valuable professional experience, and build confidence in his abilities. Today, Cameron is a key member of our team, serving as our in-house IT Assistant.

Research & Advisory Associate

Candice Kelly

Candice has been working with the Sustainability Institute in various capacities since she completed her MPhil in Sustainable Development in 2008. Currently, most of her time is dedicated to her role as project manager of the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa. This donor-funded project seeks to develop knowledge hubs in four regions across the African continent, that will collect, validate and disseminate knowledge about ecological organic agriculture to farmers. The first phase of the project runs from November 2019 – October 2021, and phase two until October 2023.

Since 2009, Candice has been appointed as an Extraordinary Lecturer at Stellenbosch University, and teaching and supervising students from the Postgraduate Diploma and Masters’ in Sustainable Development (in the School of Public Leadership). She provides academic coordination of the sustainable food systems modules that aim to introduce students to the key issues related to social justice and ecological resilience in the food system.

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Christelle Jansen

Christelle Jansen is a Facilitator in the baby center (0 – 3 years).

She holds an NQF level 4 certificate in Early Childhood Development as well as Birth to Three Assistants to Infancy course accredited by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). She is the happiest when she is with children, and sees her work as an opportunity to improve herself daily by obtaining skills to continue the special work that is being done here.

FINANCIAL OFFICER

Clayton Sauls

Clayton joined the Sustainability Institute in April 2021. He is a registered professional accountant with SAIPA, and completed his undergraduate studies in Financial Accounting at the University of the Western Cape and postgraduate in Management Accounting at Stellenbosch University. He also holds certificates in Project Management and Carbon Footprinting. He enjoys music, exploring, learning and running or hiking outdoors.

“I am really proud and grateful to be a part of the team at the Sustainability Institute and believe that ‘When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho

Assistant Youth Coordinator

Duran Byman

Duran started as a Guide assistant in the Montessori adolescent program where he worked with children ages 12 – 15 years. In 2024 he joined the Lynedoch Youth Programme as Assistant Youth Coordinator. He holds a certificate in Sports Coaching and Administration. He finished his ABET course in 2018 and is currently studying towards his Bachelor of Education degree in the Intermediate Phase at UNISA. He’s a dedicated and self-motivated person. He came through the SI’s Youth Programme at age 14 and is currently a soccer coach for Lynedoch United.

Digital & Design Assistant

Fiona Dunbar

Fiona rejoined the Sustainability Institute in 2019, bringing her energy, enthusiasm, and can do attitude to all creative aspects within the SI.

Fiona studied Marketing at the University of Stellenbosch, after which she had a brief stint in the corporate world. She then took some time off to travel, where she had the opportunity to work in various programmes focused on youth development. At the end of her travels, Fiona came back to the SI to assist with a range of creative projects for our various spaces. Currently she assists with the digital and design elements for the SI.

GROUNDSMAN

Fumanekile Qhinga

Fumanekile is silent force of nature in the Woodland, tending to the growing needs of a family of indigenous trees and shrubs which require tending to survive and flourish the rigours of our seasonal wet-land and the Stellenbosch summer.

He also is the curator of the gardens surrounding our buildings. The Lynedoch Gardens and Grounds offered his first employment. He lives in Eersterivier and speaks Xhosa, Afrikaans and English. He is nearly as strong as one of Eric’s oxen.

Admin Assistant

Gretchen Matthys

Gretchen Matthys graduated from the Lynedoch Youth Programme in 2012. She came back to the SI in 2020 as an intern, when she worked at the Lynedoch Community School as a cleaner. She showed great potential, and soon she was appointed as the administration assistant at the Lynedoch Community School.

Teaching Assistant

Janine Rozaan Jaftha

Janine is an Assistant Teacher in the 6 – 9 environment. She is overjoyed to be part of such an amazing school, the Lynedoch Community School, as well as working alongside a passionate team.

She believes every child is unique and deserves a caring, inspiring and engaging atmosphere in which to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially. As an Assistant Teacher she helps students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing a safe, risk-taking and collaborative environment. She wants students to develop positive character and leadership traits which are essential in becoming a productive citizen. She looks forward to giving back to the community that she is also a product of.

Janine is gentle, passionate, intuitive, caring and an introvert. Her hobbies include singing, playing guitar, drawing and walks on the beach.

CO-DIRECTOR

Jess Schulschenk

Jess is the Co-Director of the Sustainability Institute, overseeing the trust programmes. Jess is also Partnerships Director for Africa and the Middle East for the Embedding Project, a global public-benefit research project that helps companies embed sustainability across their operations and decision-making. She further lectures for a number of business schools and higher education institutions.

Jess holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, holds an MPhil in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University and a BSc in Ocean and Environmental Sciences from UCT.

Previously, she has led teaching and consulting programmes in corporate governance, sustainability and community development for the public and private sectors. When not getting lost in the oceans and mountains, Jess can be found with her hands in the soil, helping things grow.

Lynedoch Community School Coordinator

Jessica Eley

Jessica Eley is a qualified teacher, specialising in learner support and special educational needs.

She has worked in this field since 2013, working in the private school sector, abroad in France and Vietnam, and locally as well. She holds two diplomas from UNISA in Tourism and Event Management and a Post Graduate in Education. Her passion is working with children and providing them with individualised support catering to their specific needs. Originally from and living in the area, Jessica is driven and motivated to provide the children in the Lynedoch Valley and surrounds, with the support, guidance and love to the best of her ability to create a better future for them.

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Julia Jansen

Julia Jansen is a Facilitator in Lynedoch Early Learning (3-6 years).

She holds a NQF level 4 and 5 Diploma in Early Childhood Development. Her previous work with street children, was the beginning of her interest in a career working with youth. Her gave her first observation that children can work hard and show independence and spirit, not just play as is commonly thought. Julia finds that she continues to learn more about herself in this process, every day.

DRIVER

Kerneels Claasen

Kerneels is the driver at the Sustainability Institute.

He has been a member of the Lynedoch community his entire life. He worked at the Rosarium for 25 years, during which time he was a supervisor for 15 years. When he’s not behind the steering wheel he plays dominoes, watches the local children playing soccer outside or the rugby and cricket on TV.

Green Café Supervisor

Khanyiswa Wem

Khanyiswa is the Green Café supervisor.

Prior to coming to the Institute, Khanyiswa worked as a chef de parte at Spier Wine Farm and she has a national certificate in Hospitality and Professional Cookery. She enjoys cooking and creating new healthy recipes that accommodate most diets. Cooking is her passion and it gives her great pleasure seeing customers enjoy the meals she prepares.

During her spare time she is involved in youth development activities, motivational talks, reading, playing games with her family and listening to music.

Groundsman

Lawrence

Lawrence is the SI’s groundsman who is responsible for beautifying the SI gardens. He loves working in the gardens and is good with landscaping. He joined the SI in 2019. He is also quite skilled and is able to do plumbing and other things.

Receptionist

Liesel van Niekerk

Liesel is our dedicated and friendly receptionist. As a longtime resident of the Lynedoch Eco-Village, Liesel has been a valued friend of the SI for many years. With a background in communication, personal management and administration, Liesel stepped into the role of receptionist with enthusiasm and care, ensuring that every visitor is warmly welcomed and assisted. Her passion for working with children and people is evident in her approach to her work, and she is a true asset to our organisation.

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Litha Magida

Litha is the Operations Officer and has a Masters Degree in Sustainable Development Planning and Management from Stellenbosch University.

Since 2009 he has been involved in research and curriculum development including the Sustainable Communities Support Program funded by the National Department of Human Settlements. He had also managed and provided capacity building on various community development projects such as Intsika Yethu Youth Project, the iShack Project and the Organisational Development Programme. In these programmes he spearheaded stakeholder liaison, mobilisation and recruitment, facilitated community participation, and capacity building training. He gets his inspiration through reading books and stories which put people at the centre of development.

Local Wild Food Hub Coordinator

Loubie Rusch

Loubie has been exploring the Western Cape’s forgotten and neglected indigenous edibles since 2010, starting with cooking and bottling produce as Making KOS.

Planting a Cape Wild Food Garden, to make a shift from wild harvesting to cultivation, and convening a Local WILD Chef Supported Agriculture Project, to catalyse an equitable short supply chain, along with writing her books all helped to clarify the vision, form and role of the Local WILD Food Hub and its Community of Practice.

Loubie sees her role as networker and bridging agent across urban and rural traditional knowledge holders, cooks, gardeners, farmers, academics and conservationists, and having a voice she is not scared to use, as the most valuable contribution she can make to re-enlivening the use of winter rainfall indigenous foods which for too long have been looked down on, ignored or have become forgotten.

Teaching Assistant

Magdalene de Villiers

In 2020 she started at the Lynedoch Community School as a Teaching Assistant. She is now responsible for the 9-12 year old children at Lynedoch Community School. She is very passionate in what she does and always strives to do everything to the best of her ability. Previously Magdalene worked for SPARK school from 2017- 2019 as a Supervisor taking care of children, ensuring that they were safe and happy.

Every day she is granted is a learning experience for her to gain more knowledge about what she is passionate about. Working with children provides her with an opportunity to improve herself on a daily basis. She loves reading and doing nature walks within the Lynedoch Community. For Magdalene being in an environment that provides access to all of the tools and inspiration, brings pure joy to her heart and soul.

DRIE GEWELS CARETAKER

Makka Johnson

Makka is our friendly caretaker in the Drie Gewels building.

She has been with the SI since the beginning and is always ready with a friendly smile and welcoming words to assist guests and visitors at Drie Gewels, and make them feel truly welcome.

ASSISTANT - EARLY LEARNING

Mandisa Sakawali

Mandisa takes care of the 3-6 year olds at the crèche of Lyendoch Early Learning.

She has worked as an assistant at Kids.com and has had experience as an Au pair. Mandisa also completed a 0-3 Assistants to Infancy Diploma. With God as her inspiration, she wants to see these children grow up in a healthy and safe environment.

HOUSEKEEPING

Marriam Jacobs (Maya )

Maya keeps the SI looking spotless, which is no small feat considering the number of leaves that blow in through windows we love to keep open.

From time to time she also controls flocks of postgraduate students as they dust and sweep alongside her morning work. Maya has completed hospitality training at the Bergzicht Training Centre. In her free time Maya likes to cook, bake, garden as well as needlework.

Maintenance

Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac)

Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac) is responsible for the maintenance of all the SI buildings. Isaac gets things done! He is super passionate about his work and execute everything that he has been tasked to do, only to his best abilities. There is almost nothing to big or too small that he can’t fix, and he does so with a friendly smile and can do attitude!

KITCHEN ASSISTANT

Megan Mavandal

Megan is a Kitchen Assistant at the Sustainability Institute where she is responsible for preparing meals for the SI’s children as well as keeping thekitchen looking spotless.

Megan is a people’s person and prior to coming to the SI she worked in various shops assisting people.  Megan is passionate about food; she is also an avid reader and especially enjoys fairy tales and love stories.

PROJECT ASSISTANT: LEARNING FARM

Mpumie Cebekhulu

Mpumie joined us in 2019 as a project assistant for the Living Soils Community Learning Farm.

She obtained a National Diploma in Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2012, specialising in management and financial management. Mpumie is a friendly individual, who enjoys working with diverse people. She always looks for opportunities to learn and expand her knowledge. “I am honored to join the SI as I am granted the opportunity to learn and expand my footprint at a personal level and in my career as a whole.”

Research & Strategy Development Analyst

Mulweli Nethengwe

Mulweli joined the team in 2019. She holds a BSc in Environmental and Water Sciences and a PGD in Integrated Water Resources Management. Her experience includes being part of projects focused on water quality and quantity, climate change (facilitating dialogues), stakeholder engagement,  environmental and water education for civil society and schools, project management and logistics.
Mulweli is an outdoor person and loves travelling, exploring beautiful natural geological formations and different types of ecosystems. This passion inspired her to go into the water and the environmental sector as a way of contributing to conserving our beautiful environment and ecosystems.

Chef

Noma-Afrika Masela

Noma started as a cleaner in a small four star restaurant. She was inspired to see what the talented chefs created, and she had a burning desire to become a chef herself. She started to help the chefs more around the kitchen, and they quickly saw her potential and valued her hard work. She was asked to become a trainee chef, and her career just went forward from there on. She loves to put a smile on people’s faces with her food!

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Phuthuma Mgu

She is originally from Engcobo, Eastern Cape, but moved to Cape Town as a teenager where she completed her schooling. She is a dynamic individual who started her own business as a hairstylist in 2005. She conducted her business for 15 years, but decided to further her education when she discovered the AgroEcology Academy where she completed her studies. Phuthuma was happy to be one of the twenty people chosen among the three hundred applications.

She went on to complete an internship with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm at the Sustainability Institute. She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and her main responsibility is overseeing plant production, from planting to harvesting. She is excited as it is the first time she feels like she is a proud working woman, and she is happy to be part of the SI, where disadvantaged youth are groomed to be independent. It is Phuthuma’s hope to learn more about what she has been studying, and that someday she will own her own farm and help others like her who are willing to grow their own organic food gardens.

FINANCIAL CONTROLLER

Rene Human-Nefdt

Rene is the Finance Controller, with 14 years working experience in the corporate office equipment environment and 7 years in the non-profit sector.

She has a bookkeeping certificate up to financial statements, has completed a Non-Profit Management and Facilitative Leadership short course at the University of Stellenbosch and has a Diploma in Facility and Operations Management at CTA and is studying towards a BCom Financial Accounting degree with UNISA. In Oct 2013 she was a finalist in a nation-wide Startup Business Concept competition. Rene’s passion is for innovative IT applications and she has an off-beat sense of humour writings. Her motto is ‘A person starts to live when he can live outside himself’ – Albert Einstein.

Nourish Programme Coordinator

Rico Wessels

Rico initially studied Business Communication with Graphic Design, but left that field to pursue another passion: creating spaces where people can come together around food, relax, connect and have fun. His dream was to open or run a restaurant and create this amazing space, and his journey of 15 years resulted in him helping various restaurants.
Remaining passionate about people, spaces and connections, his journey took a welcoming turn when he learned about the SI and felt a strong urge to become part of us. “At the SI I felt for the first time in my working career that my true values could be appreciated and lived out in the most practical of ways. Coming from the traditional hard-core hospitality background, I am learning so much in terms of better ways that humans can be respected and cared for in the workplace whilst still getting the job done.”
Rico is the Nourish Programme Coordinator and leads a small team in pursuit of nourishing the bodies and hearts of those in our Children’s Feeding Programme, visitors to our cosy Green Café and those joining us for an event in one of our amazing spaces. He loves cooking with and learning more about Indigenous Plants as a means of also helping our country recover from the harmful ways of large scale commercial farming.
When not at work he loves spending time with his family: his wife and two wild and wonderful boys. They love surfing, drawing, nature and making food together.

COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

Rosaline Van Niekerk

Ross is a registered Assessor and Facilitator in Lynedoch Early Learning. She holds a NQF level 4 and NQF level 5 Diploma in Early Childhood Development.

She is the epitome of someone who practices what she believes within the classroom, due to her practical experience of working with children. Her vision is that every person working with children must have an accredited qualification, because we those are the people who help build a holistic development of the child. Directors and assistants must be proud of the role they play in children’s lives and also have the confidence that they are the best.

Assistant - Early Learning

Shannen Jassen

Shannen Jassen started at the Lynedoch Children’s House in 2018 as a cleaner and quickly became interested in the way we guide children and Montessori method just by daily observation and working in the space. She is currently doing her AMI 3-6 teacher training diploma course and is finding it interesting and feels like she is discovering a whole new world.

Class Assistant

Shannon Daniels

Shannon Daniels, a Youth Programme graduate, started as an intern at the SI in May 2020. He works at the Lynedoch Community School, and is a very valuable asset to the organisation and has gained a great amount of experience. He has learned that he has a connection with the children and also what significant role the SI plays in the lives of the children and youth from this community. “My time at the SI has helped me to become more ambitious and I identified a lot of opportunities. I also developed a big love working with children.”

Shannon has been the class assistant in the 12 – 15 environment since March 2022 this year. It has been an incredible learning opportunity for him as this is the first time for him to hold such a senior role. He has taken it with both hands and commits to making a difference in the lives of the children. He is providing them with valuable life skills and lessons that are enabling the children to live a more confident and enriched life. He supports the lead teacher by supporting all projects and ensuring all children are directed towards their interests. On the sports field he is a motivational person from this community, he is always encouraging and supportive to all the children. His personal and professional growth is inspiring. When you are aligned with the goals and vision of the program you work in, incredible things can happen.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Sindiswa Mdodana

Sindiswa studied with the Agroecology Academy and completed her internship with Living Soils Community Learning Farm, at the Sustainability Institute.  She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and she is the general site manager.

Like many others, Sindi who was born and raised in Ngqeleni, Eastern Cape, moved to Stellenbosch to find better opportunities for herself. She lives in Kayamandi, where she works in her local ward as a youth development councilor. She is incredibly passionate about people, and through her studies and experience in farming has realized that she is also able to support youth through farming. Her dream is to start a farming community centre in Kayamandi and back home in the Eastern Cape.

Green Café Barista

Sinethemba Mayongo

Sinethemba joined the Institute in January 2020 and works as a barista in the Green Café. Sinethemba has more than 7 years’ experience working as a barista and has completed a customer service training certificate through Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and an End User Computer training certificate through Silulo Ulutho Technologies.

Sinethemba enjoys serving customers and building strong and valuable client relationships.

In his free time, he enjoys playing football, spending time with his family and being involved in community service projects and activities in his neighbourhood, helping those who are less fortunate.

Groundsman

Siviwe (Mavesto) Sodlulashe

Siviwe Sodlulashe popularly known as Mavesto is SI’s groundsman. He is passionate about waste management and is doing a great job to separate the waste for recycling. He joined the SI in 2014.

Office Manager

Stella Burger

Stella joined us as Office Manager in October 2022. She is responsible for managing general administrative requests, including managing of the Co-directors’ diaries, enrolling students in the short courses, assisting facilitators on courses, managing the health and safety aspects and assisting with book sales and logistics.

Prior to joining the SI, she gained experience as an Operations Manager at Indaba Institute. She holds a Legal Secretary diploma from the College of Stellenbosch. Stella enjoys working with other people and growing her professional skills. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, reading and mosaic.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE DESIGNER

Storm Meintjes

Storm is the Sustainability Institute’s Learning Experience Designer. She is responsible for designing transformative learning experiences that reconnect individuals to their hearts, hands, communities, and local environments. Although Storm is grateful to have attended university for many years, she believes experience — accompanied by regular self-reflection — is the best way to learn and grow. Storm was raised among the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal and has been living in the sugarbush-abundant Western Cape since 2012. She loves her slow, seasonal life between mountains and the sea, and tries to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Thandiwe Mtyingizani

Thandiwe studied with the Agroecology Academy and completed her internship with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm, at the Sustainability Institute.  She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and her focus is soil health and water management on the farm.  She is looking forward to applying her knowledge and experience on the farm. Thandiwe also wishes to pass her knowledge to others and hopes to manage her own garden.

She was born in the small town of Tsolo in the Eastern Cape and she, together with her four siblings were raised by their parents until her father passed away. She is married with two wonderful boys. Thandiwe considers herself to be shy, but is always smiling. She loves cooking, listening to music and spending time with her family.

CO-DIRECTOR

Vanessa von der Heyde

Vanessa is the Co-Director of the Sustainability Institute, and holds an undergraduate degree in business and a postgraduate degree in sustainable development. Alongside the decade of experience in the non-profit and entrepreneurship world this has allowed her to gain unique insights into the intersection of sustainability, business, and social impact. Vanessa’s commitment to positive change is unwavering, and she has dedicated her career to making a difference, from retrofitting homes for energy efficiency to tackling food waste in informal settlements. Her belief in the transformative power of education led her to explore how learning can be used as a tool for transformative systems change through the work of the Sustainability Institute.

With her expertise in organisational strengthening through good governance, regenerative leadership and management practices, sustainable financial models, optimising systems, and impactful marketing, Vanessa has helped lead the Sustainability Institute to thrive and achieve its goals and achieve organisational targets on the path to higher impact and financial sustainability.

Outside of her work at the Sustainability Institute, Vanessa can often be found in nature, advocating for the preservation of South Africa’s wilderness and its wild animals, or walking her dogs at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. Her leadership style is characterised by her passion for learning and change, fairness and transparency, consistency, and striving for excellence.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Vuyolwethu Zicina

Vuyolwethu is a junior farm manager with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm. She manages the SI Permaculture garden with a team of enthusiastic and dedicated gardeners, and she is also responsible for nursery plant production and grows seedlings for the garden and the farm.

She, together with 20 other students studied with the Agroecology Academy and she also completed her internship on the Living Soils Community Learning Farm at the Sustainability Institute. Growing food has become her passion because she knows that there wouldn’t be life without food and the country’s economy would be affected. She hopes to see the learning farm grow even to other provinces so that it can feed the nation. It is also her hope that she one day owns her own farm together with her colleagues.

Vuyo is from Zwelitsha, a small area in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, and now resides in Kayamandi in Stellenbosch. She is married with three boys.

Cook

Yolanda Mhlawuli

Yolanda joined the Institute in September 2017 as a cook, when she moved to Cape Town. She is in charge of all the baked goods served at the Green Café. Yolanda loves cooking and interacting with people. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, listening to music and spending quality time with her children.

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

Yoliswa is the Permaculture expert at the Sustainability Institute. She loves beauty, nature, food and people. That love has been a journey of discovery and has enabled her to reconnect with Agriculture in a holistic way.

She studied Horticulture, and during her early career she was introduced to Permaculture. Permaculture enables her to do what she loves, which is working with people where everyone shares and learns in ways that are sustaining human lives. She is inspired by being able to work with nature through growing food in a manner that respects the earth, while also co-creating beautiful living spaces in a landscape that humans will enjoy for peace, silence, beauty and learning.

She worked for SEED as an environmental education co-ordinator, facilitating curriculum linked lessons in school while establishing food gardens using Permaculture principles. Yoliswa is part of an organisation called Amava Oluntu, which works with communities in urban and rural cities to build learning journeys. She is also involved with the Muizenberg Community Schools, creating gardens linking into Xhosa lessons.

At the Sustainable Institute she is the training coordinator for the Living Soils Community Learning Farm where she is responsible for capacity building opportunities for the team, and supports community engagement work around food security on Lynedoch. She also facilitates experiential garden lessons with the Lynedoch Small School, Lynedoch Children’s House AND Youth programme by guiding them with garden activities in the SI Permaculture Food Garden and the Living Soils Farm.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, dancing, eating food and travelling. She has two beautiful sons, from whom she learns a lot!