Permaculture in South AfricaIn South Africa, 25% of people are unable to afford enough food supplies to meet their basic physical needs. SEED Social Enterprise is a nonprofit organization based in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. It combats food insecurity in South Africa by decentralizing food systems to local household and neighborhood gardens. Mitchells Plain, a township in South Africa, faces high rates of unemployment and poverty. This is due to post-apartheid socioeconomic disparities. As a result, a majority of the residents in Mitchells Plain lack access to employment opportunities and long-term food security. SEED alleviates the effects of poverty by implementing permaculture in South Africa. Permaculture design programs provide nutritious food and job opportunities.

Benefits of Permaculture

Permaculture uses holistic solutions to harvest and distribute the food, agriculture and energy within a cultivated ecosystem. The main goals of permaculture include restoring natural ecosystems, implementing zero-waste policies and participating in sustainable consumption.

Additionally, localized food systems provide access to nutritious food in impoverished communities. Permaculture design programs also provide economic, ecological and health benefits. The additional benefits of permaculture include reduced food insecurity and undernutrition and long-term environmental sustainability. They also include increased savings from reduced input costs, high agricultural yields and improved human health and well being.

Participation in community permaculture design and cultivation encourages residents to work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs that address sustainability and poverty, such as responsible consumption and zero hunger, reflect the leading principles of permaculture; care for people, care for Earth and fair share. Resilient and diverse agricultural systems also promote economic and social equity through permaculture redistribution principles.

Nutrition, Human Health and Development

A majority of South Africa’s nutrition burden falls on the under-five population through development complications like child stunting and wasting. South Africa’s child stunting prevalence is 27%. This is approximately 2% above the national average for child stunting in developing countries. The prevalence of child stunting in South Africa indicates poor nutrition and diet during the critical stages of child development.

Improved diet through accessible and diverse food can reduce rates of child stunting and malnutrition nationwide. SEED permaculture in South Africa allows the community of Mitchells Plain to access nutritious foods like broccoli, carrots and turnips. As a result, human health and development improve due to reduced risk of infection, improved immune system function and increased cognitive development.

Investing in the Youth of Mitchells Plain

Furthermore, according to SEED, approximately 400,000 unemployed youth reside in Mitchells Plain. Nearly half of the unemployed youth population lives below the poverty line. As a result, food insecurity and malnutrition pose a threat to young adults. SEED plans to reduce poverty and food insecurity by introducing the township youth to permaculture design, urban regeneration and organic production.

Seeding Futures is a 15-week permaculture resilience program hosted by SEED. It teaches community development through sustainable agricultural practices. The Seeding Futures program covers permaculture design ethics and urban ecosystem regeneration. It also covers communication skills and self-care practices.

Students are encouraged to develop their strengths and explore employment opportunities within the local green community. During the last four weeks of Seeding Futures, students shadow local green businesses to gain valuable insight into the eco-friendly job market. According to SEED, approximately 89% of students who complete the program develop the skill set to grow food long-term. SEED uses permaculture in South Africa to provide sustainable solutions that address the intersection of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity in Mitchells Plain.

Madeline Zuzevich
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