The “middle veld” South African autumn is here. Last night the temperature was zero and in the middle of the day 35. So it’s once again a time for putting on and taking off layers of clothing. At this time of year, nature’s clever seed dispersal is in full swing, the grass seed-eating birds busily eating and scattering the many different grass seeds, and when out walking it is virtually impossible not to return covered in blackjack and other clever sticky seeds.

It’s been a quiet time on the main site. Over the long weekend in April, the Easter Weekend was facilitated by Brion Sweeney from Ireland and Trish Swift from Zimbabwe, two of the original “big 5” Tara Rokpa Therapists. The feedback from those who attended was encouragingly positive, and I personally really benefitted from attending.  In May Eckhard Drushke lead a group of people to explore the outer environment of  Tara Rokpa Centre with hiking and star gazing. We have also had a number of casual visitors, enjoying the glorious autumn skies.

Staff changes are afoot as we will soon have to bid farewell to Trish who has been producing nourishing food from the kitchen for about 14 years, and James involved with building and maintenance for over 18 years, due to the decision from the government that Zimbabweans who do not have South African “needed skills “must return home by the end of June this year.  They have felt like TRC family and will both be a big loss to the centre which has come to rely on them. Kerileng, another of our long-standing staff members is on maternity leave following the birth of a son just over a week ago.

UPDATE: The Zimbabwean permits have been extended to the end of December 2023 with a ‘waiver’ application, and both Trish and James have applied. We’ll keep you updated!

Things are relatively quiet on the permaculture side with ongoing low-cost activities of grass cutting, weeding, mulching, autumn crop planting, and compost making nearly always in progress.

Tirisano crèche in Rietvaly is settling after a few staff changes this year. Hopefully, the three there now, Keba, Martha, and Anna will settle in and work harmoniously to keep the 20 young children who attend fed, safe, and stimulated.

In the wider environment, the Marico Biosphere Reserve has held meetings and a new management team has been elected. They are at work increasing the number of farms by registering them as either protected areas or nature reserves. Legal registration should offer protection from future prospecting or mining activities. Many new mining prospecting applications are active, some on farms in protected areas. The dedicated duo of Jeannie and Brian, under the umbrella of Mmutlwa wa Noko, send in professional objections to the authorities.

As the rains depart and the grass begins to dry out the fire danger increases. We are reminded daily of fire risks and do our best to protect as best we can our main sites.

We hope to welcome you either as casual visitors or as participants in activities in the near future.

Pippa Cope, May 2023