We strive to live life in harmony with nature. By respecting people, creatures and the environment alike we can all work together to reach higher levels and fulfil our dreams.

The production of vegetables is our daily work and we have learnt quite a lot about it over the years. When asked some years ago to assist emerging farmer’s projects in the area we were happy to get involved. At the core of our training material is the sustainable and profitable production of vegetables. Topics added later focus on specific areas of production and also the various aspects of marketing and sale of successful harvests. The courses introducing social interaction awareness and basic business skills followed last.

Our courses follow a down to earth approach, no previous schooling or experience is needed. Anybody interested in gardening and farming with vegetables can participate and profit from the learning. We work with half-day modules to allow for family and other commitments of learners. The training is best conducted within the community, with established or planned gardens nearby. On completion of a training module all participants receive full course notes in English or Afrikaans together with a small content specific start-up kit.

COURSE NAME CONTENT OUTCOMES READ MORE
Sustainable Vegetable Production

Basic introduction to vegetable gardening:

  • Soil preparation, planting and care of fields
  • Compost making and feeding of the soil
  • Important vegetables like Cabbage, Carrot, Onion, Potato, Pumpkin, Tomatoes are looked at in more detail.
The participants will be able to start their own vegetable gardens and grow produce for own use and possibly the generation of income. They are aware of sustainable methods and the making of own compost to utilise manure and improve soil fertility. READ MORE
Integrated Pest Management

Identification and prevention of problems in vegetable fields:

  • Macro (environmental conditions, animals)
  • Mini (Insects, Worms Parasites)
  • Micro (Fungal, Bacterial, Virus infections)
  • Application of organic and other methods of prevention and cures
  • Best practices in spray application.
The participants will be able to detect and identify common problems in their fields. They also know a few basic remedies and have the information to prevent similar problems in future. They are familiar with handling, labelling and storing requirements of chemical substances. READ MORE
Harvesting and Packaging Fresh Produce

Harvesting and selling of quality fresh produce:

  • Harvesting, handling and storage for quality
  • Conventional distribution and packaging specifications
  • Organic marketing channels
  • In house packaging for local sales
  • Hygiene and presentation as key to success
The participants will be able to identify and harvest quality produce. They know how to prepare and sell large volumes through Epping or to pack smaller volumes attractively for local sales READ MORE
Seed Harvesting

General principles of seed harvesting and storage:

  • differently produced seeds
  • mother plant selection
  • cleaning methods
  • storage and pest prevention
  • Treatment of infected seeds
  • Storage Life of Seeds (Seed viability)
The participants will be able to generate their own, good quality seed from their fields and gardens. They also know a few methods for cleaning and best practice for storage. They can identify problems in stored seeds and have methods for prevention and treatment of seeds. READ MORE
Processing & Adding Value

Main preservation methods:

  • Preserving with sugar
  • Pickling
  • Drying
  • Fermenting
  • Seed harvesting
  • Hygiene and Creativity as keys to success.
  • Decay as natural, necessary process
The participants will be able to use produce from the fields to produce attractive durable goods for own use of for sale. They can identify problems in preserves. READ MORE
Plant Nutrition and Fertilisation

The environment and nutrients plants need to grow well.

  • How plants take up nutrition, including inhibiting factors
  • Importance of microelements and microorganisms
  • Major conventional fertilisers
The participants will be able to make plant nutrition from materials freely available. Alternatively they know how to select most suitable commercial fertilisers. They understand that plants only grow well if all nutritional requirements are met. READ MORE
Marketing and Sales

General principles of marketing:

  • The four ‘p’s
  • Key concepts like customers, demand, etc.
  • Selling sustainably produced vegetables in the Western Cape
  • Common rules for on the shelve packaging
  • Transport and Logistics
The participants will be able to identify opportunities to sell their produce outside their own communities, as far away as Cape Town. They have a proactive approach to marketing and are in a position to start generating income. READ MORE
Communication Skills and Leadership

Basic principles on motivation, communication and leadership are introduced to help understand and maintain healthy group dynamics in projects and communities:

  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Conflict resolution

The participants will be able to better understand the functioning of their own groups and communities.  They are able to approach conflict as a necessary step forward for any group and have the tools to resolve threatening conflicts and leadership issues.

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Business Ideas and Business Plans

Introduction to the tools to generate and evaluate ideas leading up to the preparation of a sound business plan.

  • Generation of ideas
  • Evaluation and viability assessments
  • Parts of a business proposals.
  • Compilation of a business plan, including a basic budget

The participants will be able to generate business ideas out of their own environment.  They have the tools to assess these ideas and to carry promising ones through to the compilation of a business plan and budget.

READ MORE

 


Sustainable Vegetable Production

Everybody can grow vegetables. With a piece of ground with access to water, sun and light and some work healthy nourishing vegetables can be grown. Whether it is a small garden in a backyard or larger fields the basic principles stay the same. The course begins with plant families and seasons as important aspects in sustainable vegetable production. Thereafter, the actual preparation and care of the fields is looked at in detail.

The aim of this introductory course is to equip people with limited or no farming background to:

  • Decide on a suitable piece of ground for their vegetables
  • Prepare the ground for planting of different vegetables
  • Select a crop layout for that facilitates future rotation of plants
  • Know how to step by step plant a few major vegetables
  • Understand the importance of the concept of circle of life

The course content is based on organic production methods including topics like crop rotation, companion planting and composting. Reference is made where due to non-organic methods and cross references are given for the utilisation of commercial products.

The most popular vegetables are then discussed in more detail.

On completion of the course the participants are able to get working in their gardens and fields starting their own vegetable gardens.

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • A list of selected vegetables with instructions on how to plant, care and harvest
  • A starter pack of 6 different vegetable seeds

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Integrated Pest Management


A short, introductory session is held where the different problem groups as encountered in farming are looked at:

  • Macro Environment
  • Micro Environment
  • Pests
  • Diseases

The place of each apparent problem, within the broader picture of the circle of life, is looked at and its importance to the proper functioning of the whole system is highlighted. The difference between conventional methods of pest control and sustainable, organic ways are compared.

A selection of problem indicators are then discussed in more detail, and a closer look is taken at a typical plant and its anatomy, thereafter the ways in which problems manifest themselves are discussed. Without expert advice, microscope or chemical analyses, out-of-balance situations can be identified and in many cases corrected.

Preventative as well as curative measures to each problem as identified earlier are discussed in detail:

  • Scheduling and Plant Selection
  • Spatial Solutions and Companion Planting
  • Mechanical Aids, Breaks and Traps
  • Remedial Spays and the use of Chemicals

The practical application is demonstrated with the aid of a small hand operated spray bottle. Discussion of factors that affect success of sprays:

  • Time of day, wind & temperature
  • Distribution of spray on plants
  • Stickers for better surface adhesion
  • Importance of alternation to prevent immunities

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • A comprehensive table for the identification of Problems Areas in the Field
  • A hamper of organic pest control substances

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Seed Harvesting and Storage


Sustainable vegetable production relies on the collection and use of own seed material. Whilst this makes economic sense it is very important to safe and re-use propagation material of good quality. Quality here means especially of good genetic stock, free of pests and diseases and not expired.

Seed have a common structure and share most requirements to germinate successfully. Vegetable seeds have developed over the years and today a number of different qualities are distinguished:

  • Open Pollinated Seeds
  • Hybrid Seeds
  • Seeds containing Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Heirloom Seeds
  • Traditional Seeds

The regulation of plant propagation material in South Africa is looked at briefly.

The various techniques for the harvesting and cleaning of seeds are looked at, various pitfalls that easily occur are pointed out. The basic storage rules are stressed and the problems in storage are identified

  • Cleaning and drying
  • Labelling and separation methods
  • Storage containers, their environment
  • Seeds pests and disease infestations

Finally, different traditional treatment for the protection and treatment of seeds are discussed.

On completion the participants should be able to harvest, clean and safely store their own vegetable seeds, increasing their level of self sustainability.

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • A comprehensive table summarizing the most important facts on vegetable seeds
  • A starter pack of containers and labels for the cleaning and safe storage of seeds

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Processing and Adding Value

No vegetable or fruit farm produces only perfect fruit, and no waste. A good way of improving harvest utilisation is to process second and third grade produce into non-perishable preserves that can be sold in farm shops on markets or even in supermarkets. This is not only creating work but also increases profitability.

To understand processing it is necessary to have an idea of why food goes bad to start with. Out of this understanding the various preserving techniques follow naturally. The imperatives of freshness, cleanliness and hygiene are also better understood and implemented. Attractive presentation as an absolute must if preserves are intended for sale rounds off the course on a lighter, more creative note.

The course of Processing and Adding Value is structured as follows:

  • Why and how food perishes
  • The major processing methods are looked at in detail:
    • Preserving with sugar
    • Pickling with vinegar
    • Fermenting
    • Drying
    • Seed harvesting
  • The Tools of processing
  • Freshness, cleanliness and hygiene
  • Preserves on the shelve going off
  • Presentation

This module is designed to empower participants to utilize the maximum of their produce to produce a variety of durable goods that can be sold to generate additional income. They will also be aware of the real danger of food poisoning caused by the consumption of poorly produced or ‘past the date’ preserves.

On completion of the course participants are able to:

  • Find a way of utilizing almost everything they produce on their fields
  • Process hygienically into preserves that are tasty and safe for consumption
  • Label and decorate their preserves attractively for good sales
  • Recognise faulty preserves immediately to withdraw them from sales and consumption

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • Basic recipies for all techniques presented
  • Check list for Tools and Hygiene
  • A length of foil and net for drying

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Plant Nutrition and Fertilisation

The subject of plant nutrition and fertilisation is touched in the course ‘Sustainable Vegetable Production’ but is not covered comprehensively. Keen interest in learning more about 'guano' has been expressed by all communities. This module focusses especially on plant nutrition and fertilization, and covers the following topics:

  • What plants need - macro and micro elements
  • When in the growth cycle which element, how shortages are manifested by the plants
  • What the soil contains, macro and micro elements, microbial and bacterial organisms
  • How the whole soil system interacts, for example the influence of pH, or water quality
  • How plants takes up nutrition, inhibiting factors
  • Supply of macro and micro elements from conventional sources. Presentation of the most commonly used fertilisers, their packaging and their current costs
  • Sustainable sources of various macro and micro elements from around the farm and house, materials like compost teas, mulches or green manure and composting

This module builds to some extend on the module of sustainable vegetable production. It expands on the key issues and deepens the insight and knowledge already gained. Lots of practical advice for the utilisation of readily available materials is included. On completion of the course participants are able to

  • Understand that plants grow strong and healthy only if all nutritional requirements are met
  • Select from commercially available fertilisers the ones that match their specific requirements
  • Make use of materials freely available to produce natural fertilisers for their crop
  • Over time improve soil fertility and the production capacity of their fields
  • Improve the profitability of their vegetable production

The participants take the following material home:

  • full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • a table listing the main nutritional components for plants and their impact on plant growth
  • a table of commercially available fertilisers, their composition and main impact
  • a table of fertilising materials available on a farm and around the house, their effect and preparation instructions.
  • a compost micro organism starter pack

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Harvesting and Packaging Fresh Produce

The way vegetables are treated during and after harvesting heavily influences quality and shelf life. The general rules for harvesting are usually better known than product specific post harvest treatments for best results. Most vegetables are also sorted and classed in a specific way, packed into set materials and weights. Non-conformance to these 'rules of the market' can result in lower prices or even outright product rejection.

Today's consumers shop to a large extent with their eyes. Packaging for retail therefore works with appearance to influence purchasing decisions. There are no substitutes for cleanliness and quality but good presentation can be learned and applied. This training course reinforces existing knowledge in good harvesting practices, addresses quality and hygiene issues in vegetable packaging and finishes with guidelines for retail presentation.

The aim of this course is to equip people with limited or no vegetable packing and processing skills to:

  • Plan harvests for best quality and freshness of products
  • Store and cure produce in most suitable environment available
  • Clean, sort and pack staple vegetables to generally accepted specifications
  • Adhere to basic hygiene and safety rules for food processing
  • Recognise good and poor product presentation
  • Beware of negative aspects of plastic packaging

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • A laminated flash card 'hygiene and food safety in vegetable packaging'
  • Samples for most commonly used packaging materials.

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Business Ideas and Business Plans

Almost everybody carries around dreams of having a business. Disadvantaged people often see this idea of a business as the best way to improve their lives and to uplift their communities. But exactly what is a good, realistic business idea? How does one find out whether it will work? With a few exercises and tests ideas can be realistically assessed and evaluated. This does not guarantee success but prevents the wasting of precious resources on impossible dreams.

The submission of a business plan forms integral part of any application for assistance and funding, for projects, the formation of a cooperative, in short for any enterprise. Invariably the initiating parties look for assistance and in most cases have a third party draw up a plan for them. This is often difficult and costs money. Such third party business plans also do not, or only partially, reflect the initiator's intentions. In most cases the plans generated are far from being the key working document for the running of a business that they are supposed to be.

The participants are asked to bring their own ideas and work through the process of evaluating the best idea up to the point of actually writing out a detailed business plan. The course includes the following steps:

  • How to find ideas for a business in everyday life
  • The difference between dreams, ideas and a plan
  • Fact finding missions
  • Market analysis
  • SWOT analyses
  • What information a business plan must contain
  • Budgets and money matters

This very practical course encourages participants to generate business opportunities out of their own environment. It gives them the tools to assess ideas and to identify the real opportunities. With the aid of a pre-structured business plan they can carry their ideas through to the compilation of a document that satisfies basic application requirements.

On completion of the course the participants take home

  • The full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • A pre-structured business plan that can be filled out with project specific information
  • Prepared forms to work out a basic budget for a business
  • A hamper containing presentation sleeves, colour pens and various dividers

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Communication Skills and Leadership

Projects often fail because the groups have internal conflicts of interest. They do not know how to address these differences in opinions. Without effective communication and negotiating skills no group survives in the long run.

Another stumbling block for project groups are leadership crises, with a few issues usually causing problems: the 'too many chiefs and no indians' situation, or the other extreme of no one willing to step forward. Even good leaders may with time overstay their tenure and hinder progress. Human behaviour is guided by a few key factors. By introducing participants to these theories they will be in a position to not only better understand themselves but also the people and the community around them.

Out of the vast material on motivation, communication and leadership skills the following core themes are looked at

  • What makes people tick, some background on motivation
  • What makes a good leader, how can one learn to become one
  • What it all takes for one person to understand what the other one said
  • How to move out of the conflict zone towards common grounds
  • The dead ends of excuses and blaming other

This module is designed to give participants some insight into how humans interact and work together as a group. It helps them to better understand their own behaviour as well as their fellow group member's, which is fundamental to making a group work. It starts participants off on the way to

  • Evaluate their own situation with respect to motivation and leadership skills
  • Become more attentive listeners
  • Proactively work on improving their interpersonal skills
  • Prevent or resolve conflicts within the community
  • Be both, a good Christian and proactive in life
  • Take responsibility for their own wellbeing, stop blaming others and making excuses

The participants take the following material home

  • Complete course notes in Afrikaans and English
  • Step by step procedures to address conflict situations
  • Motivational reminder

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities. Updated July 2014


Marketing and Sales

Emerging communities seldom market and sell their products proactively. They lack the know how and the confidence to approach retailers or formal markets. An understanding of the basics of marketing leads to a more confident approach to the task. The interactions of key concepts like demand, pricing strategies or goodwill need to be understood in order to plan profitable sales.
The module introducing into marketing and sales principles includes:

  • The four 'P's of marketing are explained in detail
  • Key concepts like customer, demand, advertising or discounts are defined for fresh produce
  • The theories are 'translated' into practical guidelines and a step-by-step check list for the selling of fresh produce in the Cederberg area (practically applied and worked through in role plays)
  • Marketing channels for fresh produce in the Western Cape, with address and contact details
  • Some of the most common packaging specifications for fresh produce
  • Ways on how to overcome the problem of transport out of the Cederberg

This module is designed to empower participants to go out and sell their products outside their communities. In this way, income can be generated, which is the step forward once food security within the community has been achieved. On completion of the course participants are able to:

  • Identify opportunities for selling their products
  • Realistically determine where and for what price to sell their products
  • Approach retailing companies and other customers with selling propositions
  • Generate income from their vegetable production

The participants take the following material home:

  • Full course notes in Afrikaans or English
  • Contact details for distributors and retailers of sustainably grown vegetables in the Cape
  • A table listing generally accepted packaging size and material for vegetables
  • A set of samples of bags and pockets for a few popular vegetables

Course Content as well as handout materials may change without prior notification depending on specific requirements and availabilities.
Updated July 2014