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Lesabe Primary School

Lesabe Primary School, on the East Rand, was and is the beneficiary of an Afrisun funded project to generally uplift the school. Positive Cycle's role has been to oversee the establishment of a mini farm and teach those present to run it successfully and continually replenish the soil in order to not only provide for the learners at the school, but ultimately to make a profit too, well into the future. After the initial soil augmentation and general preparation, teams were set to work from the local community. There was some remuneration available for the people who worked on the project (there was in fact a substantial amount of labour necessary) but without the passion and dedication, not to mention sincerity of one man, Fanie Masina, Lesabe might have looked very different. The ecosystem around Lesabe school was substantially degraded and had bottomed out to rodents and weeds, and with local dogs. Positive Cycle undertook to plant 'veld' plants or complementary plants, the idea of which is to re establish the working balance of an ecosystem. Some plants and trees tend to attract pollinators, some tend to deter pest species. Certain animals can be useful too and Positive Cycle supervised the release of a few animal species. Owls and bats help to control pest populations so habitat was provided for them and some very fine specimens were released.

This practise of relying on the natural interactions of plants, animals and soil organisms is popularly referred to as 'bio dynamics'. Using the artemisia family as pest repellents, the multitude of companion plants and plants and animals in the correct places and proportions to benefit each other and generally taking advantage of generations of knowledge not used by industrialised agriculture sees to it that Lesabe Primary School is able to produce high quality food stuffs without having to buy in additional fertiliser and pest control methods. Lesabe is a model of forward thinking, with the know how and the produce spreading into the community from the school grounds. It took a lot of work, and corporate social responsibility generally does. It is always important to identify the rare gems in the community like Fanie, who will stick by a project through thick and thin. He was there when the container had to be moved, there for the erection of the tunnel and there when it got damaged too. Fanie was with us on the morning of the owl's release and has been instrumental in the success of the project. He has applied himself to learning the skills necessary to keep the crops rich and the soil alive, harvesting organic material and composting it, as well as starting worm farms. The project at Lesabe is looking great in its second year.


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