Tag Archive for: permaculture

Numbi Valley on Eco Atlas

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Lying in the warm winter sun overlooking the organic olive grove, the aloes is full amber flower and the majestic Swartberg mountains with the wide Karoo sky reflected in the fresh water pool the words that floated through my head were ‘This is bliss. This is beauty’. And it is, both blissful and beautiful to stay at Numbi Valley as you sigh off the worries of the world and immerse yourself in the fresh air, the stillness and the incredible vistas of this secret valley in the Klein Karoo.

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Numbi Valley is an active permaculture farm growing fresh vegetables, fruit and olives and owners Kathryn and Ross are living out the off-grid, self sufficient dream so many of us secretly or silently harbour. The self catering cottage is a lovingly restored labourer’s cottage with beautiful finishes and touches from the bathroom in earthy tones of wood and stone to the African basketry, fresh flowers and very necessary large and warmly roaring hearth. We woke up to a world washed clean by a rare Karoo rain and explored the microcosms of diamonds and dew drops dangling from aloe, spekboom and acacia thorns, each globe reflecting the rounded hills surrounding us. The cottage is also completely off-grid, with sweet water fed from a natural spring and warmth and light from solar and fire, so rainy days call for a donkey fired hot shower, deliciously rewarding. Our days were spent cycling the quiet farm roads, exploring the diverse plants and succulents on the walking paths, taking the time to watch the complex scurryings of termites as they stocked up their nests and yes, blissfully suspended in a hammock in the boma allowing our eyes to soften and relax on the horizon.

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So not only did Numbi Valley tick all our boxes for beauty and bliss, it just felt so good that our weekend away was one where we could truly tread lightly on the earth. We ate organic greens freshly picked from the abundant veggie garden, saved our kitchen scraps for the farm chickens, played family games by the light of solar power and made our pizzas in the exquisitely sculptured outdoor oven with wood harvested sustainably on the farm. A feel good holiday of note, the only question that remains is, when are we going back?

To book your weekend away visit their Eco Atlas page for contact details.


Change Makers – Kathryn and Ross Eybers

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I asked them why they have chosen this way of life, what inspires them to do what they do. Ross replied with a smile, “Is there another way?” Kathryn explained that it’s because of the principles of permaculture, they don’t want to have any negative impacts and they want to multiply the positive impacts. When they bought the farm the land was dead, bulldozed and then intensely farmed with ostriches (one of the worst kinds of farming for nature and biodiversity, food for thought when ostrich meat is marketed as the healthy option…) There were barely any birds and the absence of frogs was deathly quiet. And slowly they started growing and bringing back the natural harmony and now there is abundant life. And that, in a nutshell, is why they do what they do, to create abundance.

Eco Tip 1 – When building a natural cob house it is best to not use lime in the internal plaster  mixture, it causes the walls to shed powder when you touch them, for the best and strongest finish use just pure red Karoo earth (in this instance).

Eco Tip 2 – There is a fantastic large fridge/freezer by Bauer on the market which runs really well on solar power, is affordable and is available at OK Furniture.

Eco Tip 3 – Poplar wood is great for rustic construction as the poles stay free from insect damage without any chemical treatment (plus you are removing alien trees!)



GIVEAWAY: 2 Nights for 2 People at Numbi Valley Self Catering Cottage

This is your chance to experience the beauty and the bliss for your self and it’s really easy to enter! I will draw and announce the winners next Friday the 14th August.

You will be able to choose any two nights before the end of November 2015 (subject to availability) and will need to make your own way to Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm, between Oudtshoorn and De Rust.

Here’s how you enter, good luck!

1. Like Numbi Valley’s Facebook page

2. Like the Eco Atlas Facebook Page

3. Like and share the post on Facebook and tag who you would love to take with to Numbi Valley.

(4. For an extra entry you can write in the blog comments below who you would love to take with you or Tweet @EcoAtlas)





 New knowledge and ability through tummies and trash


The concept of community participation is one that enjoys much support in theory and far less in reality. Apart from awe at power and celebrity, online petitions and taxes, I mean. At some point, one realises that society, an apartheid legacy and the economy are just not going to cut it if you’re investigating or investing in living consciously. Going greener isn’t simple. Investing in equality isn’t easy. And yet, some people do both anyway, and in one part of the Western Cape they have a name for this.


Welcome to Greyton Transition Town, an ideology in action that belies the faded tourist billboard that welcomes you to leafy rural suburbia, its many gift shops and art galleries and its many more economically challenged citizens, mostly only seen milling about near the local shops. As a person of relative privilege in or visiting South Africa, how do you address the apathy and disempowerment that a legacy of colonialism, apartheid and economic disadvantage incurs, though? Marshall starts with the stomach, and makes his way to the trash can.


He and Transition Town partner, Nicola, are actively addressing the realities that surround them. Nicola is an animal sanctuary owner, fundraiser, events coordinator and go-to person for the movement which takes its inspiration from a similar project in Totnes, United Kingdom. Together, they run garden and feeding schemes at local schools, teaching children and teens self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits through a process called permaculture. Permaculture is an organic gardening practise that uses various natural laws to extract abundance from the earth without compromising its ability to feed future generations. The focus on permaculture encouraged them to approach local farmers, who now use no chemicals on parts of their fields, and sell directly to residents at a local market, increasing their profit margins and reducing the amount of packaging and the impact of the cold chain in the process.   The new knowledge these youngsters develop also gives them new work and career opportunities, as Marshall is often contacted by bodies seeking exactly their expertise.

Recognising that there was also an opportunity in and need for recycling they organised an independent recycler to collect trash regularly, and started a swap shop to encourage locals to bring in recyclable goods. The citizen recyclers are paid in clothes, food, shoes and other necessities given by larger chains and supportive charities, empowering those with less cash and changing the way locals view trash. Speaking of which, The Transition Town movement also birthed the Trash to Treasure Festival, which rehabilitated an old dumpsite with a clean-up and a new orchard and threw a big party to bring attention to the potential in our waste and the waste of our potential. It’s clear to see that these collective efforts are not a waste of time.

Their headquarters, The Eco Lodge, is a repurposed municipal building that now hosts and accommodates community gatherings for people at every level of the LSM ladder, from school tours to mini-conferences, and if you’re lucky, you may get a vegan meal from Ruwayda, Marshall’s loving wife. If you’re not, you could visit Pure Café, a plant-based eatery that specialises in the most mouth-watering desserts that are completely animal-free (vegan).



Whether you remember it as a transition town or simply those guys giving kids in Genadendal a chance, this is a great example of the power of intention, action and its knock-on effect in building a more inclusive and empowered community.


TIP : to get the full experience, get your hands dirty and add your story to the bigger picture.

(Read more about Greyton Transition Town and get all their contact details on their Eco Atlas page.)