Living Soils Community Learning Farm

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Launched in 2019, the Living Soils Community Learning Farm is an initiative between partners Woolworths, Spier and the Sustainability Institute.

The Living Soils Community learning farm is a regenerative farming project situated in Lynedoch, Stellenbosch, Western Cape. The farm aims to tackle issues of food security, climate change, soils and biodiversity loss, poverty and unemployment, and agriculture inclusivity in the South African context.  The farm does this by providing a space to educate and empower emerging young farmers in food and farming livelihoods.

Living Soils is governed by a partnership between The Woolworths Trust, Spier Wine Farm and the Sustainability Institute. It was established in March 2019 and grows fresh vegetable produce using regenerative farming practices guided by Farming for the Future (FFF). Food produced, primarily supports local community food security, but it is also sold in order to create its own economic value for self-sustainability. The farm is further committed to advocacy and communication of learnings, to shape and experiment with new food futures in the South African context.

The project initially ran as a three-year pilot that looked to support an approach to food and nutritional security, and livelihood generations embedded in regenerative and resilient agricultural practices that if successful, could be implemented in other areas of the country.

At the end of the pilot there was a recognition and a convergence between the various partners that the project has the opportunity to increase its focus on the training aspect of the project. The partners identified the opportunity to develop a more focused learning pathway that would positively impact the skills required in the farming sector, support long-term food security whilst continuing to contribute to local community food security.

THE INTERNSHIP

The Living Soils internship aims to provide practical opportunities to grow nutritional food through regenerative practices that are not only beneficial to the produce, but also help build resilient agroecological systems in the light of climate change, soil and biodiversity loss, and food insecurity.

The internship is two-fold:

  • students can apply the learning acquired at their academic institutions and become equipped with skills, knowledge and networks that will allow them to be capable farmers,
  • they can obtain their qualifications while being exposed to essential work experience in regenerative agriculture.

At Living Soils we are committed to building a learning network that consists of context specific training and skills development interventions. The learning philosophy on the farm is of co-creation, empowerment and inspiring individuals to take ownership of their future.

For more information about the internship please contact us.

News articles:

The Team

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Phuthuma Mgu

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Thandiwe Mtyingizani

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Vuyolwethu Zicina

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Sindiswa Mdodana

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.

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.

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.

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

Yoliswa is a Permaculture expert. 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.

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.

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

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.