Inundo has been responding to the growing need for training as people grapple with addressing the huge impact COVID is having on food accessibility and affordability. We have offered a number of different training opportunities: online theory, day-long outdoor practical training out in community, and a thermophilic (hot) compost training day at the model farm.
A particular highlight of our compost training was the group of staff and interns that came from Seed of Hope Community Development in Bhekulwandle. Kerry and Dan Wiens were based in Bhekulwandle for 8 years and seeing the promise of food development continuing there was incredible.
The biggest challenge of this season has been to take advantage of the huge demand for training, while at the same time minimizing the risk of COVID transmission. We determined, as the economy began to open up from lockdown, that we were NOT going to be part of the transmission problem.
One of the solutions we came up with was to offer a 6-week, half-day per week, outdoor, socially-distanced training at the model farm. Everything is done outdoors to minimize transmission risk. The theoretical and interactive sessions are done under a large shade tree, socially-distanced. Tea is offered on the back verandah. And the practicals are done outdoors.
Planning this training was an act of faith, as outdoor training is at the mercy of the weather, and we’ve entered our spring rainy season. We were nail-biting a bit the day before the first training, as the forecast was looking dire for the next morning. But, in the end, the rain held off until the end of the day’s closing prayer – and then the skies opened. Amazing!
It would have been easier to forego any training citing the pandemic. But we felt we had to offer a training in this season of crisis. And we are inspired and encouraged by the results.
The Friday group we are working with consists of some incredibly motivated leaders! They are motivated to learn, come armed with questions, and engage with sincere interest… it is a joy to teach and train this group.
We were awestruck during the opening session when each person gave their name, where they’re from, and why they came. Almost every person spoke not only of wanting to learn to grow food well, but to teach others the same:
To influence their neighbours. To impact the food insecurity in their communities. Leadership!
One particular leader is Musa Ngidi, a principal at a local primary school. Musa has shown such interest in learning about growing food even joining us for the breaking ground of our vegetable garden, our compost training and now our Friday spring training. Musa’s school is cut into a hill in the community of kwaNyuswa. He is hoping even with their limited school footprint to transform his school into a green school where all the students learn about environmental care and growing food. We will do whatever we can to support Musa in achieving this vision. His presence in this training is a reminder of the multiplicative aspect of training leaders.
We are halfway through the training, and we have yet to teach how to put inputs into the soil. As always, we lay the foundation first: spiritual principles, principles of soil conservation and enhancement, and management principles (on time, to high standards, and no wastage). And this class gets it. They are appreciating learning the foundational principles on which we will add the straightforward how to plant. Kerry established a WhatsApp group for these learners, and the interactions between weekly classes has been amazing!
Our hope is that each one of these 20 Friday trainees will take their new skills back to their communities and implement what they have learned. There are so many challenges for people who want to start gardens and sometimes the obstacles prevent people from successful implementation. Pray with us that each trainee will be relentless in their pursuit of their agricultural dreams and that we would see gardens and gardeners multiplying all over South Africa.