Earlier this year Tikologo received some much appreciated funding from ROKPA International to help further develop the project. Since then a lot of energy has been going into the Tikologo site in order to try and make the best use of this opportunity and so the following developments have taken place:
Apprenticeship and Volunteer program
An apprenticeship position has been made possible and this has provided the perfect opportunity to work closely with a young local 22 year old John Thabo Mothobi. This has been a mutually beneficial experience and a lot of learning and sharing has taken place while working on various projects.
In July we also happily welcomed long term volunteer Dean who is currently in residence and has offered up 8 months of his time to help Tikologo with its many projects and activities.
Training Centre Facility
Over the autumn down time, Tikologo took on the task of giving the Training Centre building some much needed love and attention. The interior of the building was repaired, repainted and refurbished. Once maintenance work was complete the necessary furniture, equipment and housekeeping items were purchased and installed. The work on the training centre has enabled Tikologo to house up to 10 participants, volunteers or visitors at the site at any one time and has provided the foundation for Tikologo to expand its educational activity. The training centre now boasts a newly revamped fully equipped self-catering kitchen, 3 bathrooms, 4 beautifully designed bedrooms and a multifunctional lounge and training room.
Food Gardens Developments
In anticipation of spring, work was started on preparing the food crop spaces.
Tikologo has created two main areas in which annual food crops will be grown. The kitchen garden is approximately 180m2 in size and is located closest to the training centre. The second is the food forest garden totalling 146m2 and this is situated in amongst the orchard tree rows. A new shade netted structure was constructed in the kitchen garden to help to minimise evaporation and reduce heat and water stress on the plants. This new structure provides 50m2 of sheltered food growing space and will help contribute to the harvest of 100% organically grown vegetables and herbs this season. The kitchen garden (started in mid-2015) is already home to 62 perennial and 33 annual plant species all planted by Tikologo. Rokpa funding has enabled the cultivation of the Food Forest alleys for summer vegetable plantings. Tikologo was also able to purchase 21 different cultivars of organic and heirloom vegetable seeds which will be used to propagate the annual vegetable plants this season. Once plants have grown and fruited seeds from selected species will be harvested and saved for future plantings so contributing to the development of Tikologo’s own heirloom crop cultivars.
Herbal Medicine Garden
Tikologo is extremely excited to announce its brand new venture – the establishment of a 240m2 herbal medicine garden. The herb garden will include 48 beds of 5m2 each planted to a different type of medicinal plant. The range of medicinal plants have been assigned to the part of the plant used for its medicinal properties such as leaves, fruits, roots, seeds and flowers. The initial focus with regard to the medicinal plants will be on the production of herbal teas which merely require a simple dehydration process to prepare. You can all look forward to rosehip tea, chocolate mint tea and nettle tea, among others, in the upcoming season. As Tikologo’s processing capabilities improve, other herbal products will be trialled and tested.
Water Harvesting Projects
As South Africa is a severely water stressed region, the importance of harvesting rainwater will become ever more prevalent. Tikologo is currently preparing for the construction of two major water harvesting tanks using a technique called Ferro-cement. Both these tanks are being constructed in the ground to minimise construction reinforcement costs and so provide the maximum water holding capacity for the minimum cost.
Tank A, which has a capacity of 13000L, forms part of an ecological pool conversion and will harvest water from one of the training centre roofs. The ecological pool conversion will see the development of 3 individual tanks constructed which feed into the existing, and repaired, swimming pool. The system starts with a fish and lilly pond, complimented with a water feature of Flow Forms.
The water from the fish pond overflows into a reed bed for water filtration, of which Tikologo can also harvest the nutrient dense biomass for compost making. The water continues through a purification gravel bed which, holding thumbs, enters into the swimming pool crystal clear. Visitors and residents can then enjoy the natural swimming pool, free from chemicals. Tank B is of a much greater capacity totalling 30000L and will receive water from a big metal shed roof. Together these tanks will more than double Tikologo’s current water storage capacity and will cater for an estimated 20% of the projected crop usage requirements this season.
With regard to construction progress both tank A and B have been excavated and the purchasing of materials has started. Concrete construction will be initiated in November once the final materials are purchased and some extra labour has been organised.
If you are interested in volunteering your labour in return for learning a new technique or simply to help where help is needed let us know when you will be arriving. Construction will start the next day.
The expansion of the Tikologo nursery is currently underway as this is a priority for spring and summer plant propagation. The area of the existing nursery is 36m2 and the new nursery area adds 54m2 making the total nursery 90m2. The original nursery space will continue to function as a seedling and young plant potting space while the new area will primarily be used as a growing out space to allow plants to get bigger and stronger before planting out into their final positions on the site.
As winter drew in, Tikologo implemented infrastructure and introduced onto the property its largest animal system yet – cattle. The main reason for designing and implementing a cattle system was in order to protect the project site from fires which regularly occur during the driest seasons (June-November). A lot of work has already gone into developing the site and one big fire could des
troy it all. To create a firebreak a solar powered electric fenced laneway was constructed around the perimeter of the property and cattle are allowed to graze the grass in this area until it is no longer long enough to burn. A mutually beneficial agreement was made with a neighbouring farmer who lends Tikologo his cattle to do the grazing and in return he benefits by not having to feed his livestock. Once the laneway has been grazed off the cattle are rotated through a cell grazing system further reducing the fire risk to the property but also providing other benefits.
The interaction of the cattle on the land can help to rejuvenate and restore degraded grassland as the cattle are adding manure to the area and breaking up the formation of hard crusts on the top soil. This interaction increases water absorption and retention which has the knock-on effect of later improving biodiversity and so the quality of the pasture. Although Tikologo will not directly profit from such livestock systems they are of great benefit to the creation of soil fertility on the property (the manure is used to make compost for the crop gardens) and as demonstration systems for our visitors and students.
Please keep an eye out, on Facebook and the Tikologo website, for more information on our upcoming training courses this season.
– Farming the Soil 27-29 Oct
– The Herbal Farmacy 24-26 November
The Tikologo Team