Lush Abudant Gardens

Mother-City-Mama-Agriculture-Wild-Olive-Cape-Town-Nourishing-the-PlanetPermaculture can help turn degraded land into a lush garden. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

“Hazel Mugford runs Wild Olive farm in the seaside town of Still Bay. Her farm is surrounded by fynbos, a unique biome of low-lying scrub found only in the Western Cape of South Africa. It’s dry, windy, rocky terrain where the indigenous plants need searing brush fires to germinate — not the most likely place to cultivate tender salad greens. Nevertheless, Hazel has transformed Wild Olive into a lush, abundant garden, and she’s done it without imported soil or chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Her approach to organic farming is called permaculture. Polly can teach you all about it.

Polly is from Malawi and came to Wild Olive with her parents in 2009, when she was just two. Her father is Hazel’s apprentice gardener, and her mother runs the farm kitchen and small, on-site restaurant. Polly plays with the hundreds of families who visit Wild Olive each year, she helps in the garden and kitchen, and she regularly attends Hazel’s permaculture workshop. She’s now a preschool connoisseur of soil-building and companion planting.

Back at our compost pile, Hazel recruits Polly’s expertise. “Can you please show Thomas where to find comfrey in the garden?”

Polly slips off the bench but waits as Hazel explains how plants like comfrey sequester nutrients from the soil. “They’re called dynamic accumulators and they’re great for the compost.” Polly nods, her spiky braids waving in agreement as we follow her to the garden.”


Danielle Nierenberg
Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and
other publications.

Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is currently traveling across Africa looking at innovations that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty and blogging everyday at Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. She has a regular column with the Mail & Guardian, the Kansas City Star, and the Huffington Post and her writing was been featured in newspapers across Africa including the Cape Town Argus, the Zambia Daily Mail, Coast Week (Kenya), and other African publications. She holds an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in environmental policy from Monmouth College.
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