Grootbos | Growing the Future

On our visit to Grootbos recently, I was excited to learn more about a few of the project the Grootbos Foundation runs on the reserve - namely Growing the Future and Green Futures. On our second day there, I went for a drive and explored the projects a little further - to discover chickens, pigs, spinach, tomatoes and the joys of farm life (the lovely plants of Green Futures will follow next week).

Growing the Future teaches women skills to grow vegetables and fruit, basic beekeeping and animal husbandry. They currently have eight woman per year who take part in the program, which not only teaches them skills in basic subsistence farming, but also how to generate profit - for example, strawberries can be eaten, but when they are made into jam they can be sold for a profit. You can read more about the students and get to know them a bit better here.
We tasted some of their raw honey which was produced through their beekeeping : still containing pieces of honeycomb towards the top of the little jar, it really was as good as it gets - all the rumours about fynbos honey are true.

Admittedly, the main reason for wanting to see the project was to spend time with the chickens, get a little dirty and see the pigs. I am a complete farm girl at heart, and am desperately hoping for a return visit in autumn - I'll come armed with wellington boots, and splash around collecting eggs.  A girl can dream.

Ensuring that the woman receive all the skills required to become successful businesswoman, they are also given  exposure to learn the principles behind successful business - which forms a part of the life skills component of the course, which also includes computer literacy, health education, numeracy and English.

After they complete this course, these women will be equipped to could grow enough vegetables to feed her family; and even moving on to grow produce on a commercial level.

Fantastically, this course is fully subsidised – students receive transport, tools, uniforms and all their study materials, as well as a weekly stipend to cover their living costs - part of the finance required is raised through the sale of the produce, so students also contribute towards their education through their practical work. I was originally under the impression that the restaurant received goods from the project at no cost - but after speaking to Chef Duane, I realised he had to buy from the project (sometimes at prices that rival leading supermarkets) - so there is mutual support between Growing the Futures and the reserve. Love it.



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