Sitting indoors sheltering from a thunderstorm with my petrified dogs wanting reassurance is time for reflections. My so-called retirement time continues to be full of activity both at home, on-site and less so in Rietvaly. The weather has been hugely challenging for the gardens and residents with a period of searing heat followed by heavy rains and flooding.

Here and in all our gardens it has recently been garlic planting time as garlic has proved a crop less susceptible to predators than most. Last year’s surplus crop has been turned into garlic confit, honey garlic, fermented garlic, and been consumed as is. With the pandemic, it is in high demand as an immune booster and this is reflected in hiked prices in all shops. Exciting for me is the gift from Jeanne of samples of 10 different varieties to plant. This is apparently a small percentage of the over 100 varieties grown in South Africa. There are apparently over 1000 types worldwide! We mainly access large-headed irradiated garlic from China. I had no idea there were so many and look forward to seeing how my trial runs do in this climate.

Another much sought-after healing herb that grows in abundance in this valley is “wilder els” – one of the many Artemisias used traditionally for its preventative and healing properties. Over the past few weeks, I have had surprise visitors from three places seeking plants. The first a local group, next a minibus filled with traditional healers and more recently local school teachers from Groot Marico.

The permaculture site continues to be maintained and awaits new management and structures in the pipeline. The slow renovations for the old farmhouse due to be incorporated into the training centre have just finished.
Tirisano crèche in Rietvaly reopened in mid-February with the children keen to return. Rebecca, one of the mothers working as a teacher, returned after few months off, with her beautiful young baby daughter. The other teacher Keba has taken leave for three months, so another mother Martha has stepped in. Most of the plans for crèche development are being held up due to the failure to get any formal title for the site.

Tanja is now capably managing the activities on the main site, which allows me the opportunity to join activities of my choice without responsibilities. I really benefitted from attending the recent Kagyu practice retreat run by Alan. He put so much effort into setting it up and guiding us all.

Like many, I am gaining a lot from the precious internet teachings and retreats on offer, which I follow as best I can with the limited internet. It certainly is a changing world we are living in. And I am looking forward to the online retreat with precious Donal Creedon, with the theme being ‘We are such stuff As dreams are made on“. With Easter coming soon we hope to see people here in the flesh either to attend our traditional Family Easter Camp, or just enjoy this healing space in our available accommodation.

We have recently come to know Angels Refuge, a local animal rescue NGO, who have become involved in the area by ensuring that a nearby feedlot for sheep and pigs is in compliance with the humane treatment of animals. They work closely with the SPCA and local vets to house, feed, treat, spay, neuter, rehabilitate and find new homes for their rescues. They have over 100 cats, 30 dogs, 3 donkeys, 2 horses, and a few goats. They rely entirely on donations for all their activities. If anyone feels inspired to donate to them they can be contacted via their Facebook page, or you are welcome to donate via TRC – see here for payment options, and please email the office to let us know about your donation. As we are a Section 18A registered NGO, we can issue tax certificates for refunds.

March 2021