CONTRIUTIONS: WAYNE ADAMS | INTERVIEWED & WRITTEN BY : Warren Schmidt & Nicolette Da Costa
On the outskirts of Krugersdorp there is a 12-hectare smallholding growing minds, soil… and organic produce. It is almost reminiscent of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden. Tucked away unobtrusively against the backdrop of surrounding large-scale agriculture, a productive and insightful farming operation, Green Life Sanctuary, is taking shape. Run and managed by Wayne Adams, this property not only grows fresh and nutritious organic fruits and vegetables, but it also offers hands-on training to organisations and surrounding communities. We interviewed Wayne to find out more about this enterprise.
Food Security for All
Green Life Sanctuary (GLS) comprises several smallholder family projects and dreams built upon hard work, love and a passion for the Earth. Produce is grown according to permaculture, regenerative, and organic principles and standards. Permaculture involves the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. GLS also holds Bryanston PGS Organic Assurance. PGS South Africa (PGSSA) is a non-profit voluntary association of farmers, producers, retailers, and consumers who support the training and development of smallholder farming using organic and agroecology principles and developing a sustainable market access system for producers. SAOSO (South African Organic Sector Association). SAOSO provides the umbrella under which PGS-SA can provide producers with the route by which they can become formally recognised as Organic producers.
Farming in Harmony with Nature
There are stands of invasive black wattle growing on the property and Wayne is systematically removing and harvesting the wattle, using the pliable fresh wood to create raised flowerbeds, building material and fence posts. As the trees are removed, the barren ground is replanted with indigenous vegetation. Wattle is also converted into biochar, rich in carbon, which also provides essential nutrients to the plants.
…the principles of the farm follow that of a natural forest.
Wayne explains that the principles of the farm follow that of a natural forest. The biomass is fed back into the system as mulch and compost, and this in turn stimulates a healthy microbiota in the soil, providing rich nutrients to the vegetables. Nutrient density is increased, including nitrogen, which enhances plant growth.
The farmland varies between very clay, very sandy, rocky and loam. It is necessary to bring the heavy clay and very sandy soil to a happy loamy range by amending the soil with organic matter. The use of resources gathered on-site helps with the amendment. Wayne uses regular soil analysis to monitor the progress, from simple soil sediment samples such as these in the photos, to lab tests. Over the past six years, a huge amount of organic matter has been added both above and below the soil. An example of the improvement using only biomass management, mulch, compost and vermicompost, Wayne managed to bring up the soil pH in the clay soil from an acidic 3.4 to a more ideal 5.6 within only two years.
Following eco-sensitive methods, Wayne has noted an increase in indigenous animals moving into the property. These include owls and other birds, rabbits, mongoose, chameleons, snakes, and a plethora of other species.
A system of companion planting takes place so that some plants either control pest insects or are in themselves more attractive to selected plants, such as nasturtium.
Vermiculture plays a big part of the composting operations. Vermiculture involves the cultivation of earthworms to be utilised for transforming organic waste into fertilizer. In addition, over a cubic meter of nutrient-rich compost is processed through the chicken run each week. The droppings from the chickens are added to the compost heaps and the chickens themselves sift through the organic debris feeding on weed seeds, sprouts grubs and insect larvae, effectively filtering out unwanted weeds and insects from the mix.
Over 30 different crops are harvested from Green Life Sanctuary including varieties of leeks, onions, garlic, chillies, tomatoes, cherries, cabbage, spinach and others.
Circular economy principles in action
Permaculture practices, as demonstrated above, serve as an example of circular economy principles. Economic development is designed in such a way as to benefit not only business, but society and the natural environment as well. It features the elimination of waste by composting waste that is biodegradable, or, if it’s a transformed and non-biodegradable waste, reusing, remanufacturing and finally recycling it. It also means cutting off the use of chemical substances (a way to help regenerate natural systems) and betting on renewable energy.” youmatter.world/en/definition/definitions-circular-economy-meaning-definition-benefits-barriers/ In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually move away from enabling growth solely from the consumption of finite, limited resources.archive.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/explore/the-circular-economy-in-detail
Wayne has been involved in corporate training for much of his career and he has taken this experience right to the community. GLS has a sister operation called GLS Farm Permaculture Academy. The concept behind this permaculture training academy is to inspire those who don’t have the technology or equipment that large-scale production farmers have. The goal of the collaboration between GLS Farm Permaculture Academy and local community members is to grow and promote food gardens that will unselfishly serve as a model for others to learn from, in addition to providing healthy food. They are a registered NPC (non-profit company), dedicated to improving food security for all.
Permaculture: involves the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
Monoculture: a form of agriculture that is based on growing only one type of a crop at one time on a specific field.
Organic farming: Organic farming is the process of using environmentally friendly farming methods to improve soil health, to protect the environment and to ensure human health. Farmers use traditional and modern farming methods and combine it with research to ensure a balance in nature’s ecosystems.
Drip irrigation: or trickle irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.
Rotational farming: Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to improve soil health, optimize nutrients in the soil, and combat pest and weed pressure.
Companion Farming: planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity.
Hierloom seeds: come from open-pollinated plants that pass on similar characteristics and traits from the parent plant to the child plant.
Biomass: charcoal produced from plant matter and stored in the soil as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Rhizosphere: the region of the soil in contact with the roots of a plant, where interactions happen between plant roots, soil micro-organisms, nutrients, and water.
References & Further Reading