AWARD_ Milestone 5 Annexure _Open day_
Joint community based review of learnings to
date and Local Facilitator
An open day was arranged at Christine Thobejane’s homestead in Sedawa. The aims of this open day
were as follows:
To provide an opportunity for members form all 6 villages to visit a good working examples of
introduced and implemented innovations and good practices in agroecology and soil and water
To do a group review of learning and implementation to date,
To do a group review of the principles in good practice implementation (five fingers)
To showcase this work to relevant stakeholders including staff form AWARD, other NGO’s
government departments and the Local Municipality and
To provide a learning and mentoring opportunity for Local Facilitators who would be introducing and
talking to the different practices.
(Attendance register attached)
Co-facilitation team: Erna Kruger and Sylvester Selala from Mahlathini, BB Mkhabela and Happy from
AWARD, Trygive Nxumalo from Seeds of Light
-Community members: 60 participants from Botshabelo, Sedawa, Willows, The Okas, Finala and Lepelle. A
number of new participants also joined this session as it was opened to community participation.
NGOs: Lima RDF 3 field workers and 6 local facilitators from Letsitele and Sekororo.
Government: 3 Extension agents for the local Department of Agriculture office confirmed attendance, but
did not arrive. The Local Municipality as well agreed, but failed to send representatives. Three extension
offices arrived from the Venda region (Taung) and participated enthusiastically.
Open day programme/outline
1.Welcome and introductions and Description of the AgriSi programme and implementation to date
2.Five finger outline and review of good practices
3.Small group stations: LF’s hosted a station and described the implementation of various practices.
Physical demonstrations were in place as well as a broad of relevant A4 photographs
a.WATER: line levels, diversion ditches, ridges and furrows, banana basins, mulching
b.TRENCHBEDS: packing of trench beds, mixed cropping, mulching, irrigation using 20l drip
c. TUNNEL: Construction, microclimate creation, planting, mixed cropping and irrigation using
200l drip kit
d.CONSERVATION AGRICULUTRE AND LIQUID MANURE: The three main principles
minimal soil disturbance, soil cover and diversified cropping, planting – including close
spacing, different cropping options including maize, millet, sorghum, legumes and fodder
crops. Different types of animal and plant based liquid manures
Working with learning groups explore the past, present and future of agriculture in a changing environment.
Using a farmer experimentation approach work with local innovations and good practices and introduce
further innovations in soil and water conservation (e.g. diversion ditches), intensive homestead food
production using agroecological principles(e.g. trench beds and mulching) and climate smart adaptations
(e.g. tunnels and drip kits). Also, in these learning groups undertake collaborative activities in soil and water
conservation that would benefit householders (e.g. run-off and erosion control along the roads and verges
close to the homesteads).
2.Five fingers review of good practices
The definition of the five fingers as broad principles in good practice for climate change adaptation was
reviewedwith the group. Participants names the five fingers (easily!!) and gave a few brief examples of
what they meant
Good practices were elicited from the group and then assessed using the traffic light method for how well
they are being implemented by the groups in each village.
We arranged the scale as follows:
RED_ We know about this but have not done very much
YELLOW_ We have started implementing these practices, or a few individuals already use these,
but there is room for expansion
GREEN_ These practices are implemented by most of the participants.
The table below describes the outcomes of this exercise, participants were fully engaged and thoroughly
enjoyed this process.
Note 1: The percentages in the last column comes from a hand count of participants present who have implemented the practices.
This is indicative only as there were community members present who have as yet not been involved as well as a number of
Note 2: Light grey blocks in the practices column denote those where participants felt more input and
mentoring would still need to be provided.
Cut off drains and swales
Not yet implemented
by most participants
Greywater (filtration, use)
Organic matter (incorporation in soil)-
leaves, bones, woodchips etc buried to
increase water holding and fertility
Saving water; Rainwater harvesting in
drums, management of leaks of
communal stand pipes, no longer letting
irrigation water run 24/7 - Lepelle
involved in some way
in saving water
Banana basins and circles
Strip cropping (aloes, sisal) and planting
grass to reduce run-off
Contours- water flow for collection
Not yet implemented
Ridges and furrows-planting of crops on
ridges; sweet potato, sunflowers…
Sacks with sand for rehabilitation of
Planting in basins, mulching and direct
watering of basins only
Close spacing in field crops and
~20% - Not everyone
agreed with this
Planting to provide afternoon shade and
~22% - Not everyone
agreed with this
Crop rotation and intercropping
Natural pest control
~36% - more ideas
still to be tried
Application of manure (cattle, chickens)
Legumes; planting for food and soil
Stop burning veld
No one doing and not
needed or all areas
Don’t chop whole trees- just cut branches
Plant indigenous trees in the yards to
protect and save them
3.Small group stations
The Local Facilitators for all villages were introduced to
Right: Sylvester introducing local facilitators including
Christina Thobejane, Obed Mosiea, Florence Lewelle,
Alex (Lepelle), Meisie and Esinah (Mmametja) –who
would be running the different demonstration stations
Each station had a physical demonstration and a board
of illustrative photographs
STATION 1: Water management (Obed Mosiea –
Willows and Alex-Lepelle)
Here they discussed diversion ditches, waterflow line levels and making furrows and ridges on contour,
planting on ridges and mulching
Above left to right: Mr Mosiea
talking to the photo board with a small group of workshop participants. A diversion ditch mulched with the
ridge planted to sweet potatoes. Level ridges nad furrows planted and mulched.
STATION 2: TRENCH BEDS, drip irrigation, mixed cropping (Florence Lewelle – The Oaks and Alex-
Here the packing of trenches was discussed as was mixed cropping, mulching and a micro drip kit irrigation
system. The use of herbs as pest repellent plants and for nutritional and medicinal purposes was also
discussed and demonstrated.
Clockwise from top left: Florence Lewelle discussed trench bed
construction with a small group of participants using the photo board. A well
mulched trench bed with mixed cropping (Okra, brinjal, onion and swiss
chard) and close spacing. A micro drip kit set up on a 1mx3m mixed
cropping trench bed with mulching. A trench bed planted to multipurpose
herbs including parsley, coriander, mint, garlic chives and fennel
STATION 3: TUNNEL (Christina Thobejane, Sedawa and Fanuel Lewelle – The Oaks)
Here the Local facilitators took participants through the construction process of the tunnel and discussed
advantages and potential disadvantages of crop production in tunnels. The larger drip kit (210 L) was also
demonstrated and discussed. The drip kit is assembled on site by farmers and the ‘drippers ‘are
homemade line drippers
Above left to right: Two views of the tunnel and drip kit. Christina explaining to a small group of participants
and the photo board of the tunnel and drip kit construction process.
STATION $: Conservation Agriculture and liquid manure (Meisie, Sedawa and Esinah Malepe
This station went through the principles and practices of conservation agriculture including the use of hand
planters for no-till situations, close spacing and the importance of soil cover and diverse crops. Liquid
manure from animal and plant sources was explained.
Left: Meisie busy explaining the CA
principles to a small group of
Far left: the photo board showing
examples of CA plantings and the no till
hand planters (MBLI planters). This
station generated a lot of interest in the
planters and many comments as to
A few other practices were also showcased during this
open day including a selection of herbs and
indigenous trees for planting, (such as lemongrass,
num-num, marigolds, aloes, fennel etc. Well tended
banana circles were also showcased
General feedback on the day and process
“This whole process has given people purpose. We are no longer just going to wander in the streets and
gossip, but are going to be busy. We are going to see some health improvements in our communities”.
- The way we taught ourselves was great- it opened our minds
- I was a bit overwhelmed by gardening and the difficulties but from these examples shown today
things look doable
- We are impressed with how others have been able to grasp the concepts so quickly
- A lot of knowledge was gained today
- I liked the idea of waterflows and harvesting water off the road for your fields. I never knew this was
- This workshop helped refresh our memories of what we’ve learnt and how it all fits together
- The demonstrations helped us to see and understand and give one courage to go home and do
things. I will now go and do the trench beds.
- I was afraid with this approach that I would be troubled by pests. I now realise I can use the
resources I have to counter pests.
- This has built more relationships between farmers- we can talk about our issues together
- When we started building the tunnel I thought we were playing. Now I see what it does and think it is
a good gospel to preach
- I am feeling a lot more confident as a local facilitator now that I have talked to people and explained
how these practices work
- Newcomer – we learnt a lot and I was struck by the idea that one can improve the soil you have and
do not have to rely on a bad soil.
- We learnt that we can collect water off the yard and even from outside the yard
- One can improve crop quality through using this run-on water
- I was bothered by my neighbour letting water run into my garden – now I realise I can use that water
- I am impressed by the line level- that one can use simple methods like that to measure complicated
- What used to be a burden (gardening) now is going to become gold
- I learnt the importance of mulching
- Now that I have visualised the workings and how all the practices fit together, now it makes sense
what you told us in the training workshops and now I can go home and do it.
- I used to sweep up the leaf litter mad throw it away. Now I will use it for mulch
- It is important that furrows are level to get more infiltration of water
- Looking at maize, I can see how the crop quality can be improved- by the CA, ridges and mulching.
Practices: Trench bed
- Became more aware now of what goes into a trench bed
- Regarding the use of top soil versus sub soil in the trench bed I see now that the top soil is more
fertile and so it is good to use in the bed. I initially thought you just put the soil back as it came out.
- I can see that people are using close spacing in the trench beds and it is working well
- Trench beds are also a way of cleaning the yard
- It is not all kinds of tins that can be used; cooldrink tins and perfume tins are not good
- Combining the trench bed with the drip kit seems like a very good recipe for saving water.
- Now- with permanent beds we will not be walking all over our beds and causing compaction. We
should get better production that way
- Bones can also be used in the trench beds
- It is important to do companion planting in these beds
- It provides protection against pests, hail, wind and sun
- Improved quality of crops- they look a lot better and healthier than the ones grown outside the
- Drip irrigation seems like an easy way that can save water
- The relationship between the tunnel, the trench beds and the drip irrigation is now clear. Doing all
three things together works well and reduces evaporation
- The Department of Health will also be very impressed to see that people are actually growing
vegetables – sick people will now be eating healthy food
- The net and drip irrigation is a good system. Using this will cut costs of pest control
Practices: Conservation Agriculture
- Conservation of soil fertility
- It is better to plant in rows than broad cast seed. There is better germination and you use a lot less
- We learnt how to plant maize using the MBLI hand planter. It works really well and then you won’t
need to plough
- How do we get hold of these planters? – For now let us all try the ones that have been given to the
groups and if we like them then we can buy them
- In Lepelle people said the hoes were better and did not want to use the MBLIs. But now we see how
well it can work with the planted
- I have seen the importance of intercropping for soil cover
- The zig zag planting pattern also helps with controlling water flow and reducing erosion – the water
movers around and percolates into the soil
- It is an efficient use of labour
- The facilitator at the station was explaining that it is easier to do this in 10mx10m blocks to make it
easier to remember the spacing arrangements
- No cost on tractors
- CA doesn’t go without mulching – you need the mulching for it to work well
- Use of available resources to do liquid manure such as weeds, banana stems and manure
Lima took the opportunity to introduce their food security programme through Wesbank which will be
implemented also in these villages in the near future. They talked about gardening as a small business
option and that they would assist in training and monitoring, as well as helping people to look for markets.
They said that they would need learning groups of 20-25 people to be able to start.
The DoA staff from Venda explained that they were very impressed with the level of commitment and the
community based approach here. For them this is vindication that starting at household level and working
inside the homesteads with organic methods is a good approach. The Department itself does not support
this approach and people in the Department are there to make money. They emphasised that they were
here because of their love of farming and the community.
5 Future planning
The activities for the winter season were discussed:
- Learning sessions would continue in the various villages and specific attention would be given to
topics participants have highlighted for more attention. Refresher mini-workshop will also be held to
include the new participants and bring everyone up to speed. Local Facilitators will play an
important role here.
- Local facilitators will now start to visit all participants to support and mentor them and also monitor
their progress with implementation of the innovative practices.
- The winter season when people are at home is a good time to start on the collaborative erosion
control efforts in and around the participants’ homesteads
- *The implementation of a process for participants to access tunnels and drip kits was introduced. In
both cases a limited number of kits can be provided by the implementation team. Participants are
required to show their commitment by digging and packing the required trenches prior to receiving
- *For the piloting of underground RWH tanks it was suggested that participants who do not have
access to municipal water in any form be prioritized. Also volunteers are required to do all the labour
and demonstrate an active interest in gardening to be considered. These criteria were ratified by the
group present as reasonable and acceptable.
*Note: Participants volunteered for the tunnels, drip kits and RWH tanks by placing their names and contact
details on lists provided.