The 15 Wildlands Trust Youth Employment Services (YES) Sustainability Impact Project Interns, some of whom are interning in the RISE Unit, are currently undergoing training and gaining valuable life and work experience, until April 2020 across various departments at the College. This invaluable project, supported by Nedbank, is aimed at assisting youth in gaining meaningful experience, skills and knowledge, by providing paid internships for a year. SAWC is proud to partner with Wildlands Trust in this initiative.

On Friday, 26 July 2019, Maintenance Operations Manager Michael Gardiner and two of the five interns who are working in the Maintenance department, took a tour of the extensive and impressive garden that Hlokomelo have established. Here they learnt a lot about herbs, vegetables, permaculture, which plants are better suited to being planted in sunlight areas, or shady areas, natural herbicides and fertilisers. The tour was not only interesting, but also informative, and led by the very capable Necia, who, with a team of equally capable people, manage the Hlokomela Garden.

Tour of Hlokomela Garden

Subsequent to the visit to the Hlokomela Garden, Rirhandzu and Reply have both already implemented what they have learnt; first by going out into the field, braving the boiling sun, and collecting animal dung (with permission from the Section Ranger) to use in their permaculture mixture. They have also tirelessly collected vegetable peelings and thatching grass for their magic compost mix, which is then combined with soil. The interns then diligently researched the right soil, water and sunlight conditions required for the type of herbs most used in our kitchens.

Using their compost which they have made over the past few months, Reply and Rirhandzu have created a very successful herb garden, utilizing old tractor tires as vegetable beds. The duo have planted Sage, Rocket, Parsley, Coriander and Basil, which will hopefully be of great value to the Hospitality Manager, Hazel Timm, providing fresh herbs for the meals she and prepare daily.

SAWC’s new Herb Garden

As with any project in the bush, one of the challenges is the wildlife. Apparently the squirrels have an acquired taste for coriander, so the next phase is to develop a way to protect the herbs, and later on the vegetables from the local squirrels, birds, and other ‘local inhabitants’ who share our campus.

The skills learnt by these interns will be carried over into the local communities, so they can begin developing gardens to grow herbs and vegetables. It is this kind of initiative that teaches out youth to become more independent and self-sustainable, whilst also develop their own initiatives to deal with community challenges

The overall plan is to eventually establish a garden on site, fed by our grey water system, which can be managed by the local community, to sell produce not only to the College but also to the communities living adjacent to the College. May big things grow from the small beginnings of this herb garden!