A small group of environmental activists and food growers have started the Mpophomeni Conservation Group (MCG) under the auspices of Midlands Conservancies Forum. They host walks and talks, screen environmental movies and facilitate the Mpop Kidz Club which meets after school a couple of times a week, with support from N3 Toll Concession.
MCG plan to inspire others in their communities to think about their lifestyles with regards to sustainability, climate change, biodiversity conservation and animal rights. Their own homes and gardens will provide the inspiration to share their vision of a better, greener, kinder and more sustainable future for their community.
The Global Green Grants Fund has provided funding to start this process. To begin, low energy cooking equipment was purchased –Wonderbags, Sunstoves and Istofu (a fuel efficient stove).
“We can do other things while our food cooks, we don’t have to watch it all the time and it will save so much electricity,” said Penz Malinga. “It is unbelievable how little wood the stove uses to cook.”
Next gardening equipment was purchased. Ntombenhle Mtambo, a keen gardener, is absolutely thrilled.
“I have never owned so many tools, before my hands were my tools. Now we have to go out there and educate people about how to grow food and help each other,” said Lindiwe Mkhize. “My favourite is the small yellow garden trowel. First I have to use the pick remake my veggie beds and collect manure in my bucket.”
Leading by example MCG intends to help and influence their neighbours, one garden at a time by hosting workshops and gardening parties (known as ilima) to assist people to improve their gardens, grow indigenous plants and food. The idea being that while they work, they informally chat about recycling, sustainable living and environmental issues.
Their own organic food gardens and lifestyles provide living/working examples of sustainable living. Before the rains begin, gutters and water tanks will be installed to harvest water, and fencing will be erected to stop chickens and goats from helping themselves.
Ntombenhle Mtambo and Tutu Zuma, both experts in Permaculture have approached the uMngeni Municipality to turn two areas of wasteland into community gardens.
“We would like to help the community we live in to understand the importance of nature and caring for the environment where they live every day. This will open their eyes, save money, water, energy and give them opportunities to earn money out of waste and gardening. We want to get rid of all the dumping sites because they cause misery for those who live near them and the rubbish blocks the storm water drains. We need to teach the community that much of the waste is useful so they stop dumping and causing problems. We would like to help people to start gardens and be able to sell surplus or donate to those in need.”