Eco-friendly travel in Africa

Travel

+ Green travel

+ Travel Tips

+ Sustainable Accommodation

 

Africa

+ All about Africa

+ South Africa

+ Eco News

 

Permaculture

+ Permaculture Design

+ PDC Blog

+ IPC10 Blog

+ Permaculture Projects

 

Our trip

+ Carbon-neutral scooter safari through SA

 

Health and the Environment

+ Individual and planetary health

Inspirational Eco-pioneers

+ Eco travellers making a difference



RSS Twitter Facebook
Follow us on
RSS, Twitter, Facebook

[?] Subscribe To This Site

XML RSS
follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines

Permaculture in Bathurst
A conversation with Eco-pioneer Rob Gess




While visiting Bathurst, my sister Karen and I decided to stop over at the Dancing Donkey Store, which we’d heard had natural, organic products.

Rob Gess, the owner, opened up for us and we followed him in to the store, which was housed in a small round rondavel (thatch-roofed hut).

Dancing Donkey store, Bathurst Port Alfred

The store was a treasure-trove of goodies - an assortment of African art and crafts including handmade bird whistles (yes, I bought one), handpainted keystones made from walnuts (guilty as charged), dreamcatchers, handbags, clothing, jewellery, musical instruments - all made by local artisans.

African products in Bathhurst

And, of course, the products made by Rob’s wife Serena - homemade herbal ointments called Greenaways.

Greenaway’s is made from herbs, coldpressed seeds and nut oils and beeswax blended by hand.

Greenaways herbal products

I decided to buy the calendula ointment - great for insect bites, rashes, and skin issues; helps reduce scarring, and even strengthens varicose veins.

A part-time Palentology lecturer at Rhodes University and Environmental Impact Assessor, Rob is a fascinating person to drop in on for a chat.

Rob Gess at Dancing Donkey bathurst

We discussed mental hospitals and ethical dilemmas in terms of involuntary commitments, the garden of Eden and the origin of consciousness, and fruitarianism and ethical beekeeping.

Permaculture garden

My interest perked up when I heard that all the herbs were grown organically in the cottage garden, pollinated by their own bees.

Could they be practicing permaculture?

I asked Rob to show us around his garden and the moment he mentioned zoning I knew he was practicing some form of permaculture.


A self-defined ecological gardener, Rob uses permaculture methods such as zoning, diversity, natural succession, herb spirals, circular or Mandala garden beds, trellising and many more. trellising vegetables

 

As Rob took us around his garden, I regretted not carrying my voice-recorder - Rob was passionate about his garden and clearly a wealth of information. He showed us an abundance of fruit trees in his orchard -including figs, gooseberry, plums, apples, fig plums, custard apple, loquats, oranges, lemons, and even a Mexican apple.

There were also banana trees, planted on the edge of a mini-swale to capture and retain water.

banana circle set on swale

Rob also showed us a native tree called the Knobwood Tree or umnungwamabele in Xhosa - which literally translates to “White Woman’s Breasts!”

knobwood tree

Set on sea-facing slopes, the garden was clearly structured into zones, with the vegetable and herb garden closest to the house, the orchard further on, and the wild zone on the outskirts, home to an indigenous forest and mist belt.

indigenous forest, mist belt

Rob tells me that he’d utilised native plants in his design - for instance the Rhus tree is usually cut down - when in fact it’s a mist-producing plant that provides shade, natural habitat, 100 sq metre water catchment as well as leaf mulch.

He pointed out an orange tree growing naturally amongst the Rhus trees, telling us that he doesn't interfere with nature, rather allowing things to grow where they please, and reaping the rewards.


Though I’d have loved to chat for longer, regrettably our time was short so our conversation was pretty rushed. However, it’s clear that Rob’s taken care to work with nature, and his success is evident in the vast amounts of indigenous trees growing without ever being planted.

Despite the fact that Bathurst has suffered from an extended drought, Rob’s garden is a green, verdant slice of heaven.

Related Articles:

Permaculture in Palestine: This article is about permaculture in Palestine as I attend a PDC at the Marda Permaculture Farm in the West Bank

Permaculture in East London: Discover Permaculture in East London, Anna Andrews' 2-year labour of love, and she'll share some of her success stories, including composting, Mandala garden beds, greywater harvesting and no-dig garden beds.

Return from Permaculture in Bathurst to Kowie: the stunning town of Port Alfred

Return from Permaculture in Bathurst to Eco-friendly-Africa Travel


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


 

Search Us


Eco-travel & Lifestyles

Hi, my name is Melissa and I created this site together with photographer Christopher List to help spread awareness about green lifestyles and travel, so everyone can learn how easy it is to live in a sustainable way. Enjoy!

Carbon-neutral scooter safari

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Testimonials

I wasn't sure what a permaculture design course was about, until I read through Melissa's fantastic blog! I've signed up and soon I'll be a PDC graduate too.

Kelly Richardson - Arizona

The link between personal responsibility and preserving our environment is becoming increasingly clear to me. Reading up on simple ways to be more eco-friendly in my life and travels has really helped me practice what I preach.

Dennis Howley - Namibia

I can't wait to follow Melissa and Chris' adventures in the Middle East and Africa. You guys inspire me!

Khalid Seif - Dubai

Get the Eco-Travel Scoop

Close
loving-it-raw

CONTACT    DISCLAIMER    PRIVACY POLICY    DONATE      WRITE FOR US

Copyright © eco-friendly-africa-travel.com | All rights reserved.
Powered by Site Build It! | Website Designed By: Jithesh Narayanan