Food security is a major concern for many South Africans and plays a vital role in reducing HIV incidence.  After recently attending Permagarden Training hosted by the United States Peace Corps, Peace Corps Volunteer Samuel Partington is sharing the knowledge he has learned in hopes of helping the community start their own gardens to increase their food security.  The BI and the nearby primary school both have gardens that have been producing veggies for years and as such the soil’s nutrients has been steadily decreasing making the need for fertilizer more and more important.  So Sam has joined forces with BI gardener, Thabang, to get those veggies growing.

Sam and Thabang making the compost

An essential element of any serious garden is the compost as it provides a constant supply of nutrient-rich fertilizer.  While the BI already had a noteworthy compost heap, incorporating the techniques demonstrated at the Permagarden training will boost the speed the compost is produced and its efficacy at enriching the soil.  So Sam and Thabang set to work and redid the entire compost heap!  First they made a base of twigs and sticks to increase airflow, then they started layering leaves, soil, straw, and food scraps with lots of water after each layer.  After ensuring the entire heap was plenty wet, the pile is covered to keep in the moisture.  A long stick sits in the middle to act as a measuring stick for moisture and warmth, the two vital ingredients in speedy composting.  In three weeks the entire heap will be turned over, watered, and covered for another three weeks.  If all goes according to plan, we will have fresh new compost for our garden in just six weeks time.  Sam and Thabang will soon be starting a compost heap at the school and planting new food gardens that will utilize Permagarden techniques and demonstrate how valuable food gardens can be.