SEED's Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre

SEED empowers Mitchell’s Plain homeowners to transform households towards sustainability

Key Ideas:

o Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre conducts workshops with Mitchells Plain community on how to have a more sustainable and cost-effective household
o Residents will be able to grow their own food
o Some of the participants houses to receive eco retro-fit - eleven homes receiving a start-up retrofit and two homes receiving full retrofit.
o All participants to be mentored by SEED after the course
o Homeowners to become ambassadors for sustainable living

Following the launch of its sustainable house, the Homestead Model, in May 2012, SEED's Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre (a Deutsche Bank Urban Age Awards Finalist) was granted funding from First Rand to roll out a two week workshop for eighteen households in its low income neighbourhood; Mitchell's Plain.

The workshops are designed to educate participating households about methods and behaviours that will lead to a more sustainable existence. Beyond the course, all eighteen households will receive seedling support for a year (enabling them to grow their own food); whilst ten households will receive part-retrofit (food gardens, compost systems, medicinal gardens and hot 
boxes) and two households will receive a full retrofit (food gardens, compost systems, medicinal gardens, hot boxes and rain tanks, solar geysers and trellis systems).

In addition, community ambassadors will be established to educate within their community and promote the adoption of a more sustainable lifestyle on an on-going basis.

The workshop covered all aspects of sustainable home management, including:
o Permaculture - Basics and Design
o Earth - Soils, Plant Types and Worm Farms
o Solar Energy
o Water Management

Director of SEED, Leigh Brown, says; "As we face climate change and the energy descent - and linked rising food prices - there are many more people who are going to be going to bed hungry leading to spiralling social instability. We need to build local community resilience now - and food and energy security are good steps towards this. These workshops build social cohesion - as neighbours support each other. The retrofits also serve as community-based models for reaching more homes. We would like to grow this program as well as Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, which is critical as a support base."

As all the participants are unemployed, the project will also build new skills which could be developed into job skills.


What some of the participants had to say…

Rose: "The cost of living is so expensive and I am grateful to have learnt several ways to save on everyday living. For me, it won't end here, as I am very eager to learn more in order to help in the community."
John Scott: "The last job I had I was driving disabled people in a project called Dial-A-Ride. The contract ended and I was unemployed. Not knowing what to do at home, with no income, I saw that SEED was advertising for people to do a sustainable workshop in the area. Not knowing anything about sustainability, I registered myself. I was a very worried person until I received a phone call to say that I was accepted to do the course. After three days, I had learnt so much that my fingers started to itch to grow my own food. Now that I have learnt so much about growing my own food, I know that I won't go to bed anymore without food for me and my child. I am very, 
very grateful to the people that made this possible for us."
Colleen Hector: "They have made me more aware of our surroundings and our environment, what we are doing to it and how we can live in it without harming it and ourselves."

"This has meant so much to me as an unemployed housewife and mother. A special thank you as well to our cook, she has made us aware of how well we can eat and what to eat through her meals, and even their health properties."

Tasneem October: "I had an extremely fascinating experience at the workshop. I never realised how much we as human beings can save by using our creative imagination, using recycled waste for an economical way of living, and also how each organism is dependent on one another for survival."
Sharon Alexander: "I was recently diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes and anxiety-depression disorder. I have always dreamt of having a herb garden and never had the opportunity to develop one. The workshop helped me tremendously with my depression because of the great group spirit and friendly educators, and because I feel I have solutions to my health problems. I am looking 
forward to building my own herb garden and fulfilling it in my dream. With SEED on my side, I know I will be able to make it."


SEED (Schools Environmental Education and Development) is a non-profit organisation that works at transforming learning environments through Permaculture, and over the last decade has worked with under-resourced schools in South Africa assisting teachers develop a program that inspires learning and connects children to the ecosystems that support them.


SEED headquarters, the Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, is based at Rocklands Primary School in Mitchell's Plain. The centre is a hub for environmental learning, Permaculture demonstration and community enterprise, and will come to serve as a model for effective solutions to the growing environmental crisis facing humanity. The Urban Abundance Centre is being constructed in phases and focuses on alternative and sustainable building, community outreach and environmental education. The first of these buildings, The Homestead Model and Outdoor Classroom, were launched earlier this year.

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