Help us to Grow the Green Army

by SEED
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Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
Help us to Grow the Green Army
The Outdoor Classroom - covid - style
The Outdoor Classroom - covid - style

We are so grateful for your support over one of the craziest years we have ever navigated. Your generosity and belief in our work kept our wheels turning and able to adapt and keep growing the green army.

We now head into the final year of Phase II of Seeding Futures Resilience Training. The plan for Phase II is to graduate 100 youth per year for three years – with thorough Monitoring &. Evaluation (M&E) to catch the points of magic and poise the training for greater impact.

Covid-19 and the devastating socio-economic effects of lockdown has been a real-life. Resilience test for our Alumni – and the M&E shows that despite the crises, graduates reported a greatly improved ability to manage stresses and shocks and to reframe problems as challenges.

Personal Resilience
What stands our significantly is the inner  transformation of graduates – who leave the program with higher levels of hope and agency through: greater self-knowledge,  being connected to a bigger vision and being able to take care of their own resilience needs.

The internal change in graduates results in the following external outcomes:

Economic Resilience
64% find work (36% able to continue working through lockdown)
16 new enterprises created (9 closed over lockdown)
48% set up of multiple income streams (gig economy)
77% feel fat better equipped to handle the crises

Household Resilience
89% practice long term food resilience systems
63% implement resilience systems in own homes (food, water, energy, medicine)
78% implement resilience systems in other homes (average 4 homes) 

So the work you have supported is showing great promise.

We invite you to join us for 2021 – an exciting year where we get to see the longer term impacts of the training and position it for greater reach.

Your support has been very appreciated.

Leigh and the SEED team

Calibrating A-frames for measuring contour
Calibrating A-frames for measuring contour
Easy Peasy growers were busy during lockdown
Easy Peasy growers were busy during lockdown
Food priority became a priority over lockdown
Food priority became a priority over lockdown

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Learning the basics of water resilience
Learning the basics of water resilience

We thank you for your support of this important work – which is now starting to be valued more by government departments and the general public. We have been working at designing and resilience training for 20 years and we are now incredibly well positioned strategically to begin to take a leading role in the transition of our cities and settlements towards more self-sufficient, socially just and cohesive neighborhoods.

THE YEAR THAT WAS
What a crazy year it has been – one we could never have anticipated. Permaculture teaches us to frame problems as opportunitied. As is speedily draws to an end we reflect on some of the amazing gifts that have arrived with COVID-19 and the lockdown. 

  • In some ways COVID-19 is dress rehearsal for the looming threats of climate change – we now have a unique window to be able to respond to the vulnerabilities hi-lighted by COVID-19. At SEED we have been preparing for disturbance for decades – honing the skills of resilience design, education and practice. We are now well-positioned to support others through education, demonstration and capacity building.
  • A light has been shone on the incredible wealth disparity in South Africa and how this plays out into the huge inequality in the food system and the incredible vulnerability of so many of our people. Mitchells Plain was 69% food insecure before lockdown (this means 2/3 of residents go to bed hungry). The COVID-19 lockdown food crises has resulted in soup kitchens and community gardens becoming very important – and we are heartened by the meaningful and hopefully impactful conversations.
  • The surge of interest in growing food at home meant that our Easy Peasy enterprise was able to grow into lockdown as we moved from our retail customer base to selling through neighborhood nodes across Cape Town through our new Online selling platform.
  • The closing of the tourism industry has meant that our salaries are more attractive. This means we have finally employed an Operations Manager with the capacity and experience needed to systematise our training and move us well and truly into the era of professionalism and growing impactfulnes.
  • COVID-19 and the lockdown highlighted our lack of resilience as a species. The result of this is that many more people are interested and signing up for our trainings. (Seeding Futures currently has a waiting list of 165 people.)

  • We have tipped over 50% unemployment nationally as many industries have been bought to their knees. With our economy in flux there is an opportunity to transition to more ecological and robust models of development that will serve our communities and all species more effectively in the future. There is a need to grow meaningful local jobs through supporting local enterprises that focus on growing economic, natural and social capital (circular economy principles).

 

PROGRAM DELIVERY 2020
We managed to reach the planned four Cohorts of Seeding Futures – despite being unable to teach for 5 months. We accomplished this through:

  1. Shortening the training from 19 to 11 weeks.

Making the curriculum responsive to the crises through dropping the household and Neighbourhood Resilience Modules (which relies on broad community engagement) and, being unable to organise job shadows we spent the four weeks working and learning in the resilience systems at Rocklands. 

Applied Permaculture Training (4 weeks) : The Permaculture Design bootcamp module covers the internationally-recognised Permaculture Design Course and is accredited at level 4 (Matric). This teaches and practices the fundamental Permaculture Design methodology.

Personal Resilience. (1 week): We focus on our strengths and practice articulating these, we look at our work/life balance and set ourselves goals. We learn about CV writing and communication skills, including dealing with conflict through Non-Violent Communication. We learn self-care.

Designing My Resilience (1 week) : - We now support students to design their own project, the can be their homes, lives or a project they are working on. Students have had four design trials and now hone their new abilities to improve their own lives or projects.

Skills for Growing (3 days): With the upsurge in demand for locally grown food, we have designed a two-week module that aims to skill up good food gardeners. We cover Production planning and crop rotation for a full year and also thoroughly equip students with the hands-on skills of Compost, Planting and also Propagation. This module ensures our students can produce large volumes of food in an earth friendly way.

On-ground Practical (4 weeks) : We worked the systems at Rocklands – making compost, planting food and. Practicing techniques like marking contours, plumbing rain tanks, building compost toilets and rocket stoves. This familiarity is important in building comfort and confidence.

2.Implementing COVID-19 Compliance

We usually work with at least 25 students per cohort and in keeping with COVID-19 compliance we reduced numbers to 13 (to enable the 1.5m social distancing in the classroom). Working within the rules enabled us to open our classroom doors in August and get busy teaching classes of people very ready to learn how to build resilience.

3. Taking teaching Online

We also spent some of lockdown shooting a Resilience Series that addressed the important issues people were grappling with.

The series got 1346 views on YouTube and allowed us to trial teaching online.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3EiRlzux25lHFY8QxbE6Eg

This is something we will pursue as we are inundated with requests to share our training with more people. Watch this space in 2021.

we learn about seed saving (and planting)
we learn about seed saving (and planting)
when we grow food we are actually farming the soil
when we grow food we are actually farming the soil
and learning to design and implement food security
and learning to design and implement food security

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Students practice Permaculture Design in groups
Students practice Permaculture Design in groups

This report is from an independant Monitoring & Evaluation expert:

You don’t need a social scientist to tell you that the COVID-19 lockdown and associated economic recession is having significant negative impacts on the livelihoods of people in South Africa (and the world, for that matter).  But it is often interesting to hear what the social scientists can tell us about how these impacts are being experienced at a human level. When looking here, we have been heartened by what our research is telling us. 

My team have been measuring the resilience of a group of youth in Mitchells Plain over the past year. As independent monitoring and evaluation specialists, we were appointed to provide services to SEED - a permaculture NGO with a (20) year legacy working out of Rocklands Primary School. Through our most recent round of monitoring and evaluation research, we were able to find out a little more on how the students from past courses have been responding to ‘Corona’.

While our statistics can’t be seen as representative of any large sample, behind each number is a human story. These are the stories we want to showcase.  

The economic impact has been devastating. Our results have found that 58% of students found a job after completing the course; a feather in the cap of the course convenors when understood in relation to the 11% employment rate amongst the control group. Of these, about a third of these newly employed workers had reported never having worked before. SEED have found a formula to promote the employablility of their students. It has been devastating to learn then that more than half of their employed students lost their jobs at the beginning of lockdown. Only about a quarter have been able to continue to work through the lockdown. Worse still, the losses seem permanent for most where only 2 students (13%) told us that their employers were paying their full salaries and holding their jobs. 

A similarly bleak picture is sketched for the course’s entrepreneurs. 16 new businesses were started by students after leaving the course. Of those interviewed since COVID, 64% (7) reported closing their doors as a casualty of the lockdown.

And the impacts have not only been economic. Even those few who were able to keep their job through lockdown speak of the hardships of not being able to visit their families over this period.

However, the COVID story is not exclusively one of ruin. About a third of students reported extreme distress (the 2 lowest possible score); but just over a third indicated that COVID changed their life in positive ways too. Similarly, about half of the students indicated that they felt very well equipped to deal with the crisis, something many attributed to the course.

Some have found positive in the way that the crisis has forced innovation. One entrepreneur spoke of adapting to online marketing strategies while another spoke of migrating to internet currency systems. Others report having used the time under lockdown to invest in their communities or their permaculture activities (e.g., food growing). Others can’t claim the same levels of resilience but noted that the crisis has passed them by – as they continue to be cared for by others or the state. These members were not part of the formal economy and as such haven’t (yet) experienced the effect of its recession.   

This research humbles us again, reminding us to listen beyond the headlines and sound bites. The economic collapse and human health crisis are part of the story but it also has another side. And as we listened to the strategies of a set of students who have been schooled in resilience, we have been reminded again that we will all wake up the day after “the worst” happens - and find a way to adapt.

“I feel empowered after all the information I learnt at SEED. The course has changed my life and helped me to take care of myself and my community. I am proud of my food garden and compost system. I am a social auxiliary worker and always encourage my clients to live “green”. I work as a volunteer in my community, teaching women who have been through trauma how to do gardening. The course has helped me to deal with the COVID crisis, being able to sustain myself”.

 

 More on SEED’s Training Programme:

Results of our research have shown that the Seeding Futures programme has significant positive impacts on personal development, empowerment and resilience of students who move through their programme. While teaching permaculture principles, the programme has been shown to effectively support students build coping mechanisms to withstand shocks, improve their self-knowledge and self-appreciation and develop practical  skills. These have been designed to improve the personal, household and economic resilience of students.  

 

 

 

Real hands-on skills
Real hands-on skills
Building rocket stoves
Building rocket stoves
Saving water
Saving water
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more intakes for the green army
more intakes for the green army

Your kind support has enabled us to graduate another 25 beautiful souls through Cohort #5.

Cohort 5 was one of our best groups yet. This is mostly due to our continuous improvement of the course content, layout, and facilitation, but as well due to our screening process aiming to get a broad and balanced demographic represented.

There was a very close balance between female and male, as well as youth and older people (silver foxes). This course also saw an increase in black students compared to previous groups where the coloured demographic held a dominant percentage.

All of this balance through diversity gave rise to one of our  richest learning groups yet, as there was such a diverse pool of lived experience to draw from for each lesson.

Overall the group had an incredibly inquisitive, insightful, comedic, gentle, passionate, and compassionate collective demeanour, which (as with previous groups) resulted in an unforgettable learning experience and a unique and solid family bond by the end of the course.

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Another beautiful cohort joins the Green Army.
Another beautiful cohort joins the Green Army.

2020 has started at a gallop...

We are hard at work with the first intake of Seeding Futures for the year and heartened by the response to the program. This intake sees 28 students learning Permaculture design and applying it to homes and communities.

We believe that change happens through people - awake and capacitated people change their own lives and those around them. Gardens and Permaculture systems are a beautiful bi-product and a teaching tool.

SEED has spent the last three years growing our invisible structures (governance, due diligence) and focussing on the social levels of how we operate. This invisible work can be a bit disheartening in that it can seem like nothing is happening.

The work is starting to pay off and we have recently vetted by GobalGiving and been given a Top-Rank Award - we are grateful for the recognition of the hard work done by many and are eager to see this fruits of this ripening.

We deeply thank you for enabling this work - we could not do it without you.

 

 

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Organization Information

SEED

Location: Cape Town, Western Cape - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Leigh Brown
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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