Green girl Nolo brings knowledge of plant life to communities

2016-08-25 06:00
 Green fingered Nolo Gwangqa

Green fingered Nolo Gwangqa

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Noloyiso Gwangqa was born in Willowvale in rural Eastern Cape – a town considered to be as notorious as Philippi.

Despite her up-bringing in informal settlements in the Cape, her deep-rooted spirit for conserving, preserving and restoring nature grew as an inherent passion that evolved into a career.

Nolo-as she is affectionately called-is a nature custodian, and has proven to her peers that permaculture gardening should not only be defined as a senior citizen hobby.

It can be defined as “an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living’’. Amazed by her love of nature, I tracked her down to find out more about her career in nature conservation.

Nolo,29, said: “I don’t think I chose permaculture. I think permaculture chose me.”

ZM: Considering your background in Nature Conservation and the fact that there are different fields in conservation that one could tap into, for example you could have chosen sitting in the office comfortably writing environmental laws? Why permaculture?

NOLO: “I don’t think I chose permaculture. I think permaculture chose me. As a consultant, I have been working with communities, and getting people to connect with nature is something that I have found most fulfilling. Permaculture involves observing, interacting with learning directly from nature...the ability to see how patterns of natural systems operate and evolve.’’

ZM: Tell us how can any other person or community be able to benefit from it, besides producing more in small spaces?

NOLO: “Permaculture is the way of assisting humans to make best decisions about the sustainability of the homes we build, where we source our energy and where or how we source our food, clothes.

Which means that everything that is necessary should be produced close to where we live, with very little impact to the natural environment. Permaculture is a practical tool for transforming our world into a place that produces most of what we need, which stimulates economies that empower everybody, which recognises the value of life and works towards creating better human cultures’’

Permaculture is a practical tool for transforming our world into a place that produces most of what we need

ZM: What are some of the organisations that you have worked with and what is the most exciting thing that you have achieved or done?

NOLO: “I have worked with SEED as their student applying my permaculture skills by designing permaculture gardens in different communities in Mitchell’s Plain, putting into practice water and soil management, composting and worm farming, garden layout, organic particles, food forest creation, pest management and seed saving’’

ZM: Any partnerships you are looking forward to? Or what are some of the organisation or companies you would like to partner with?

NOLO: “It would definitely be Pick ‘n Pay, as there is an alignment between the Pick ‘n Pay’s Ackerman Foundation and Gondwana Alive. For instance Gondwana Alive is a Non-Profit organisation working with communities to create sustainable jobs that help our planet.

This is specifically what our GrowGreen and GreenPaths programmes are all about. Youth development and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit are other aspects of the programmes. Pick n Pay supports similar causes. We have also been exploring a partnership with the Community Works Programme that we are really excited about.

Youth development and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit are other aspects of the programmes

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