The Justice and Peace Commission is on a drive to promote sustainable living through entrepreneurship among small scale producers on Church land.  Towards the end of July and the beginning of August,  it held a series of trainings in this regard.

One such training took place at Luckau in Witbank Diocese on the 27th July 2015. Luckau is a 113 hectares farm currently owned by the Diocese of Witbank in Limpopo Province where a sizeable portion (±60 hectares) of the farm is in the process of being transferred to the 13 families that currently reside thereon. The community is using this land mainly for residential purposes currently.  The plan is to unlock the community’s potential to use the rest of the space for agricultural purposes.

The training focused on developing skills to propagate and manage peach trees, and basic market research methodologies.  It was an exciting training, with concrete outcomes.  Some of those outcomes included the commitment by the trainees to establish a nursery,  and orchards around their households.   It was agreed that the process of starting a nursery was to commence in December 2015, with the collection and planting of seeds in containers.  Further trainings, which will be more intensive will be provided at different appropriate intervals.  For instance the training on grafting will take place when the seedlings are a year old.

At Oetting, in the Diocese of Mariannhill, the training took place from the 28th to the 31st July.  Oetting is a farm  of about 260 hectares, half of which is settled and used by the community.  There are 10 households on the farm.  For this community the training focused mainly on permaculture.  The process of facilitating this training started with the question, what is a household.  This gave the traineesan opportunity to define in their own terms, what they regarded as a household.  The elements of what they defined were further interrogated.  For instance, they had to list the food types they consumed, where they sourced them etc.  This discussion led to the communities identifying the types of foods they could produce for themselves.  This is then what they were trained on.  The training was 30 % theory and 70% practical.  Trainees were highly motivated and were ready to go and apply the new learnings.  The community volunteer, Sphelele Shabane will be sending us updates on a monthly basis regarding the application of lessons in people homestead gardens.

Keilands was visited from the 9th to the 11th August.  Keilands, as it popularly known,  is made up of 2 adjacent farms, Rocky Nook (481 ha) and Keilands (914 ha), and is currently owned by the Diocese of Queenstown.  In 2010, following the sale agreement between the Diocese and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (currently in progress), service providers were dispatched to the community to facilitate the development of the community strategic plan.  According to the plan, one of the areas of intervention was capacity building for animal production.  The training provided on the dates mentioned above was part of the implementation of the community’s strategic development plan.  At Keilands, each and every household has goats.  The average stock per household is 30.  And there are about 100 households.  They sell locally and to neighbouring communities.  At the training they were guided to explore potential external markets.  They liked the idea very much, and spent a great deal of time discussing how to improve the quality of their stock through controlled pest management, and identification of restaurants for African cuisine in East London, King Williams Town and Queenstown.  They drew up an implementation plan and assigned tasks among themselves.

Lastly, the training was held at St. Joseph’s.  St. Joseph’s Mission Farm is owned by the Diocese of Dundee, and is made up of Schoemansdal farm no 4345 with part of Glasgow No 4226 and a portion of Nooitgedacht No 1308.  It was donated to the community in 2004.  The community is using it for residential purposes, livestock, dry land cropping and vegetable production.   From the 12th to the 14th the 13 members of  communal garden were trained on the latter, using permaculture methods. The following were the outcomes of such training.  The members had not met in a long time.  However, as a result of the training, they recommitted themselves to:

  • Holding regular meetings on the last week of the month,
  • Revisiting their constitution to ensure that it remains relevant to the new goals
  • Savings to cover expenses related to improving the garden- contributions from members ,
  • Starting a nursery
  • Reinforcing the fence, and
  • Marketing – approaching schools and Churches in their neighbourhood to bring about awareness of the availability of vegetables for sale.

The Land Desk will be following up telephonically, to support these initiatives.