Mycelium has been very involved in food stories over the last few months – food flows in urban spaces, food research, and connecting (and re-connecting) to various communities and organisations working with and around food.
I have also had my own interactions with food since I moved with my family from Cape Town to Zimbabwe in January 2022 and we have been living in a small community called Kufunda Village. Our food journey at Kufunda has been a great learning experience in relation to sustainability, local foods and eating simply. We have had to get used to a new way of buying food, finding and keeping foods. We live about 25km away on a rough “road” from the type of grocery shops we are accustomed to, and 6km from the nearest market and basic goods shops. The so-called road is rocky and badly rutted in parts, and after rain, parts of the road becomes gullies. So its not an easy pop over to the shops, like we have in Cape Town!
Luckily we are living on a farm and in a farming community so there is a lot of food being grown all around us. It has just been a matter of connecting to the right people to access this abundance. Our two children have also enjoyed being part of discovering new foods and part of preparing it.
We have joined the vegetable basket system that has been piloted at Kufunda Village. We get a large basket of vegetables grown in gardens using the biodynamic anthroposophical method. Most vegetables in our basket – carrots, spinach, brinjals, green beans – come from the garden where the Kufunda farming team works. Other local farmers supplement this with their cabbages, fresh white maize (chibage), butternuts, chillies, garlic, and herbs. So weekly we get a big basket of nutritious delicious vegetables, with no packaging, that is usually picked on the morning we get it. It costs us $US 8. This veg basket has the lowest carbon footprint we can imagine! The food is collected by bike or foot or brought in by wheelbarrow. I carry the basket on my head (learning from the locals 🙂 back to my house and we eat veggies the whole week.
Through our interactions with all the farmers around us, we have eaten fresh groundnuts (straight out the ground!), roundnuts, freshly dug up sweet potatoes, avocados from our bike repair guy’s own tree, spiny local cucumbers ‘gaka’ grown organically by the security guard, bright yellow mini mangoes from locals around us, freshly harvested mushrooms from the miomo forest around the farm, and our neighbour sold us maize from her harvest last year which we ground at the local mill to make maize meal.
I have learnt a lot about small-scale farming through all these interactions, discovered a whole new world with biodynamic farming methods practised at Kufunda, and have been capturing as much as I can on film for the documentary series I am co-producing. I’ve also learnt that farming is no easy task, especially when you are dealing with decreased rainfall or pests, or flash floods. But I have also learned that Zimbabweans have a deep and close connection with the earth, and most people know how to grow food, even the city folk. Every verge and pavement in Harare which is not in use, has a plot of maize or beans that belongs to someone. I hope you enjoy this months newsletter and take a special look at the plant-based events coming up. Sending warm food vibes from Zimbabwe!
Court orders government to clean up air in coal belt
The Pretoria High Court has upheld a complaint by activists that poor air quality in the coal belt is a breach of constitutional rights, giving the environment minister a year to enforce a clean air plan drawn up a decade ago. South Africa’s coal belt, east of the capital Pretoria and main city Johannesburg, is home to an estimated 3.6 million people as well as a dozen Eskom coal-fired power stations and some Sasol petrochemical plants. A spokesman for environment minister Barbara Creecy said she had noted the ruling by the court would study the judgment before releasing a statement.
Activists, scientists and doctors have argued that an epidemic of respiratory diseases in the area is a direct result of high levels of air pollution. The UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, made a submission in support of the case.
A 2019 study for the state-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research showed more than 5,000 South Africans die annually in the coal belt because the government has failed to fully enforce its own air quality standards, and that a quarter of households there have children with asthma. The High Court in the capital Pretoria said Creecy had a legal duty to make regulations that enforce the government plan for cleaner air, which was drawn up in 2012 but has yet to be implemented.
“The minister has unreasonably delayed in preparing and initiating regulations to give effect to the … plan,” the judgment said, adding: “The minister is directed, within 12 months of this order, to … prescribe regulations … and enforce (them).”
In her submission to the court, the minister had argued that while air pollution in the coal belt was indeed a problem, using the constitution to try to force the minister’s hand violated the separation of powers – an argument the court rejected. The court ruling will require the government to take tougher action against heavy polluters such as liquid fuel producer Sasol and state power company Eskom, which is drowning in debt and struggling to keep the lights on as it is.
Representatives of Eskom and Sasol did not immediately respond to requests for comment. South Africa’s coal industry, the world’s fifth largest, employs 90,000 miners, generates 80% of the country’s electricity and supplies the feedstock for about a quarter of the country’s liquid fuel for vehicles, all at a time of soaring unemployment and frequent blackouts.
ALSO READ: Major court victory for communities fighting air pollution in Mpumalanga Highveld by the Centre for Environmental Rights
National Water Week: An opportunity to tap into new standards
South Africa can significantly improve water and energy efficiency by aligning its tap labelling programme with international standards, according to a new study by the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) and Clasp. The report, titled In-depth Assessment of Water Efficiency Opportunities in South Africa, was released ahead of National Water Week marked on 20 to 26 March, which aims to raise awareness and call to action renewed value for this scarce resource.
In 2018, the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan identified a water supply deficit of 17% by 2030 for the country, putting water efficiency under the spotlight at a time when parts of the country were feeling the pinch of prolonged drought conditions. The master plan also targets developing a water efficiency labelling scheme for taps and fixtures by 2025 in line with international standards.
The report found that standards for taps and showerheads could address the country’s link to water and energy crises by reducing the use of water and electricity needed to heat some of that water.
In response to this goal, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Special Committee, participated in the International Standards Organisation (ISOA) project to develop an ISO standard for water labelling systems. The SABS considers the standard, once published, to be applied to establish a water efficiency labelling program in South Africa.
South Africa predominantly imports commercially available taps. To solve the problem of inefficient water use – which can typically increase utility bills – countries are increasingly standardising taps and fixtures to maximise water-saving. Toilets, taps and showers typically consume 40 to 60% of the total annual potable water use in domestic and commercial areas. This is why water efficient fixtures installed in taps for various users typically save water, energy and costs in both commercial and residential buildings.
Activists and learners clean up Mfuleni, Cape Town wetland
Activists from the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) and Bardale High School learners removed rubbish from a filthy wetland in Mfuleni, Cape Town as part of a recycling and clean-up project. Mpumi Mhlalisi, a coordinator for Western Cape Water Caucus, of which EMG is a member, said learners who belong to an environmental club at Bardale High had asked him to organise the event. Residents and ward councillor Nkosiphendule Lombi were invited to participate.
Mhlalisi said the aim was to promote conservation and recycling and discourage illegal dumping. Learners were asked to place glass bottles, plastic bottles, cardboards and papers in separate rubbish bags. “We teach the learners that residents are dumping something valuable and that waste material can be converted into a source of income,” he said.
Aphiwe Mdunyelwa, EMG project manager, said EMG had first worked with geography learners from Mfuleni High School and Manzomthombo High School in 2019. “We now work with learners from six schools here and encourage them to take the initiative and see what they can do about pollution in their areas,” she said.
“Kids don’t have a playground, so they play here and get water-borne diseases. There are flies, and residents have to buy insect killers to get rid of them. If the wetland is clean, residents can even use the reeds to make reed mats and sell them to survive,” she added.
Article originally published on GroundUp.
Back in person and planting the future
With the likes of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration launching in 2021, Greenpop are busy building on this global, green momentum to take action for a bright green future. Reforest Fest celebrated it’s 10th year from 1-3 April at Bodhi Khaya situated in the Overberg. The Greenpop Reforest Fest is an annual restoration celebration that brings people together to plant thousands of trees while enjoying a celebration like no other and this year 5000 trees were planted in a single day! Celebrate Earth Hour this month by donating a tree! https://greenpop.org/get-involved/
DIARISE: Showcase your vegan cooking skills
The South African Chefs Association (SA Chefs) and The Plant Powered Show (TPPS) has launched a culinary competition where the winner will share a platform with top professional and celebrity chefs at The Plant Powered Show. This takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from Friday, May 27, to Sunday, May 29. The 2022 competition is open to all chefs, student chefs and home cooks residing in South Africa, aged 28 and younger, who are invited to submit their best vegan dish. Those entering must submit a 30 second video (or a link to where the video can be found) explaining why they should be the winner of a coveted demo spot at the TPPS, as well as a recipe using vegan-only products with a list of ingredients and the cooking method. Entries, along with a full name, ID, email and cell number details should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for the attention of Adrian Vigus-Brown.
Entries close at midday on April 19 with the top 10 finalists announced on April 22. These finalists will then have until April 29 to submit a demo video with the ultimate winner announced on May 2 and invited to be part of The Plant Powered Show to perform a live cooking demo on Saturday, May 28, in The Plant Kitchen Chef’s Theatre.
DIARISE: Earth Day: 22 April
Under the theme Only One Earth, World Environment Day 2022 will be observed highlighting the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature by transformative changes in our policies and choices towards cleaner and greener lifestyles. Every government, every business, and every individual in this world has a voice. There is not going to be one person who can do it all. But now is the time. Together, we can make a difference. We need to act as a team altogether. Our choices, social actions, and personal communication give us the power to make our voices heard. We all influence the pace of corporate and government activity through what we do and how we do it for the betterment of the earth. https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2022/
DIARISE: The Plant Powered Show
The Plant Powered Show – which takes place at the CTICC Cape Town from 27-29 May – will feature celebrity chefs, mixologists, health and wellness gurus, a plant-based food, drink and lifestyle marketplace and unique experiences. The Plant Powered Show is the first of its kind in South Africa, bringing the plant-based, vegetarian, vegan and conscious living revolution to a mainstream audience. The hugely successful inaugural Plant Powered Show (under the name The Festive Vegan & Plant Powered Show) took place online in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions and featured an extraordinary line-up of local and international chefs. http://www.plantpoweredshow.com/
These are the most plant-based friendly restaurants in South Africa
More than ever before plant-based options are being offered in many restaurants, including big franchises and for the first time ever South African eateries have been ranked largely on the number of plant-based items available on their menus. ProVeg South Africa assessed 23 restaurants across the country, mostly fast-food franchise restaurants were chosen to be ranked. The Citizen
Discover South African brands with The Local Edit App
Reposting #Twyg: To embrace the ethos of slow fashion, we need to choose community over convenience. And, if we want to grow the slow fashion community, we need to find ways to make it accessible to different kinds of people with different lifestyles. A new South African app makes it easier than ever to support local, slow fashion. Established by Berdine Swart and Christine Meinjies, The Local Edit is an app (available on Apple and Android) which allows users to discover and shop across some of the best South African designer brands, all in one cart. Twyg
How Koeberg’s history impacts today
The Koeberg nuclear power station site was selected for economic rather than safety reasons. But the population has grown and the government would do well to consider this before extending the life of the plant. The ongoing controversy around the proposed 20-year extension to the life of the Koeberg nuclear power station only 26km from Cape Town brings back into sharp focus the decision-making that resulted in its construction. New Frame
We are loving …
… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.
PPL°WX is a recently launched South African Eco-Lifestyle channel, broadcasting to 8 million households in South Africa. Focussed on eco awareness and behavioural change, PPL°WX is found on Ch180 Dstv & Open View. The channel appeals to cross cultural and cross generational audience who enjoy engaging, entertaining, credible, informative, and purposeful content. We are focussed on eco awareness and behavioural change. Our content pillars are: Outdoor & Nature, Food, Agriculture, Travel & Tourism, Science, Sustainability and Sport & Adventure. PPL°WX is reaching out to filmmakers and producers looking for a new platform to broadcast ready-to-air content. Please contact: email@example.com
Pritzker Architecture Prize recognises sustainable architect
Diébédo Francis Kéré has become the first African and the first Black person to be awarded architecture’s highest international honour, the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Pritzker Prize is architecture’s highest honour. It’s granted each year to architects whose work has achieved excellence. This year it is in its 45th edition.
Kéré was born in Burkina Faso, West Africa, and built his architectural practice designing schools and medical facilities that were most often built by local communities with minimal resources and a very careful selection of affordable and sustainable materials. It was this approach that led to his architecture firm receiving global recognition. His work shows strong climate and budget concerns, along with the will to engage local communities in the design and construction of the buildings themselves.
The Gando school is a model of sustainable building. Its features include allowing cooling air to pass through and around the building. Another is its innovative use of widely available local resources – both materials and unskilled labour. The first school built using this model – in Gando in 2001 – encouraged the implementation of further projects: another school, then a library. These buildings, in turn, have attracted other buildings around them – and even the neighboring villages have built their own schools following Gando’s cooperative approach.
Scientist Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, is organizing actions around the world in the next few days. Scientists are going to be doing acts of civil disobedience. https://scientistrebellion.com/ SR urgently needs volunteer editors to work on turning video clips of the actions into short activist films. It will be intense, rewarding, unpaid work. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership to the Mycelium Media Colab is open to multimedia storytellers, artists and regenerators that share our vision collaborative and transformative change. It offers a networking and support space for members to share skills and inspiration, and creatively cross-pollinate, as well as a platform and organisational structure for projects that require a team. Ownership of projects is shared between the creators and the co-operative. Contact email@example.com for more information and visit https://myceliumcolab.com/