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Covid-compliant coffee time and windswept beaches: Green Route

Dawn Munro makes cakes like Nigella bakes. It started with the clementine cake that she was selling at May’s market and I bought one of two.

Then I saw that Dawn was baking Nigella’s pear and pistachio rose cake and ordered one of those for dessert after lunch one Sunday. Delicious and how gorgeous is the presentation? Dawn is a potter who makes platters and she’s planning to start selling at the local community market. I’ll let you know when she’s up and running.

Soon after getting back from the road trip I joined friends for coffee at the newly-opened Harvest Cafe in Newlands, near NUDE FOODS.

House reno obsession of the week

Did I mention I’m obsessed with window seats? This week’s Pinterest board features banquettes. Let me show you just some of the images cluttering up my feed. Variations on a theme. What do we think?

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to take food photos

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to take good food photos? Here’s some of the sourdough from C’est la Vie with some of the nastergal jam we bought at the Napier Farm Stall (on the way back from De Hoop). A bit like an instant berry cheesecake and very delicious. READ: Bread and Jam in Daily Maverick TGIFood

I went to the beach after the bakery and on the way I saw the detail on this mural.

There’s lots more news but that’s it for now, live lightly.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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I went down to the shouting sea: Green Route

Every day is World Environment Day.

Fish Hoek beach on a moody morning. Shards of sunlight playing with shadows in the sand.

Looking at the patterns in the sand. Pondering a plastic blue bottle washed up on the shore. Not a bluebottle jellyfish.

This is why I’ve always wanted to live beside the sea.

See more inspiration on my Pinterest board Beaches

There’s lots more news but that’s it for now, live lightly.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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Join the Oceaneers for a free screening of My Octopus Teacher: Green Route

Celebrate World Oceans Day with the first public screening of Oscar-Winning Documentary – My Octopus Teacher

June 8th is World Oceans Day, and what better way to celebrate than by joining the Oceaneers for the screening of the Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher. For the first time in South Africa, Oceaneers, alongside partners Mahina, Plushi and Camissa Moon, are thrilled to bring this proudly South African film to life on the big screen. Taking place at the iconic Labia Theater in town, this once-off, free screening kicks off at 17:15.

Although entry is free, space is limited, so be sure to reserve your tickets by answering a few simple questions on our site www.oceaneers.co/events.

We feel privileged to be able to bring four, young and exciting eco-conscious brands together to bring this once-off screening to life. Filmed just off our shores in the Great African Kelp Forest, My Octopus Teacher follows Craig Foster and his team from the Sea Change Project, as they try to understand one of nature’s most fascinating sea creatures.

Described by New York Magazine as, ”One of the most touching accounts of interspecies relationships ever told.” The lessons Craig takes away from his spectacular encounters are significant and the message he shares with us is profound. In the film Craig recounts, “What she taught me is to feel that you are part of this place. Not a visitor. And that’s a huge difference.”

With Mahina towels for sale, complimentary treats from Happy People Foods, delicious post screening snacks from Camissa Moon and prizes from Captain Fanplastic, this event is surely not one to miss. We are also proud to have Plushi present their short film about sustainability called, “Think Conscious”, and for those who feel a strong call to action, we invite you to sign up to become an Oceaneer, receive your welcome bag and join our community of ocean aficionados.

Press Release: Supplied by Oceaneers

Ocean Pledge is also party of the salty team.

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Eco-reno ideas loading and slow life in the south: Green Route

Eco-reno ideas

Let’s start with eco design. We’re planning an eco-reno of a small 70s-era house that we bought in Clovelly and we’re going for a look similar to this – dark doors, wood panelling, metal roof and wooden decking outside. What do we think?

All designs by David Maurice Ltd in New Zealand. For more see the article in Designboom.

The design inspiration for our eco-reno also comes from Fazenda Perfect Escape, close to Swellendam, Fazenda Perfect Escape (see images below)

Love the look of Fazenda, above. My obsession with eco-reno ideas and plans can be seen on Pinterest. It has its own eco-reno board.

Aromatherapy news

I received a parcel from my sister in New Zealand, slightly battered but otherwise intact. Pretty things and a bottle of Pranatherapy’s Heavenly Creatures spray. It has a heavenly smell and I’ve been spraying myself liberally and we took it on holiday with us. Pranatherapy combines aromatherapy oil blends to create an all-in-one hand sanitiser, hair refresher, air freshener, surface cleaner. Ideal for road tripping.

Road trip ramble

We’ve recently been on a round-trip road trip, starting in the Cederberg, then Klein Karoo, Overberg and back to Cape Town. Some snapshots from along the way. I wrote a story about bread and jam and simple pleasures for Daily Maverick TGIFood, read it here Simple Pleasures and Slow Tripping on Country Roads.

At Enjo Nature Farm we stayed in a small cottage, Kogman & Keisie in Montagu West and The Place in the Klein Karoo.

We pre-ordered a loaf of olive and rosemary sourdough from The Place and took some C’est la Vie Choc-banana muffins for the trip.

The Studio at The Place, a converted ostrich shed.

Our final stop was De Hoop Collection where rain had transformed the vlei, filling it to the brim.

There’s lots more news but that’s it for now, live lightly.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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News about living lightly in the south: Green Route

Living in a transitioning transition town is fascinating. Once a month there is a community market, held at a resident’s house and everyone selling at the market is a local. Locals that can cook, grow and make. Some keep chickens and grow some veggies, others bake cookies, Marinella makes marvellous marmalade and there are also books and plants and secondhand clothes for sale. A new idea at this month’s market was the Harvest Table to give very small producers a chance to sell their food.

Read this blog post by Cnscs_ creators Masego Morgan and Stella Hertantyo to find out about Greyton and the Transition Town process.

I went to the May market and bought ‘Nigella’s Clementine Almond cake‘ (wheat free) made by market organiser Dawn. And feta-filled breads, baby brinjals, spinach samoosas and choc-chip biscuits for friends who were coming round that evening. They were spoilt.

I also met a young environmentalist at the market and bought a young wild dagga plant from her. She sent me a link so I could read up on it: Wild dagga on the Sanbio website.

Rising sea level mural at Fish Hoek to raise awareness of global heating

I went to buy fresh sourdough from C’est La Vie bakery in Fish Hoek and wandered over to the beach where I found artists completing a mural. ‘Planet over profit’ says a T-shirt slogan in the mural. Let’s hope so. Can we change? Greta Thunberg’s current campaign is #MindtheGap but are we listening?

Distraction: My dream house eco project

I have to confess to having become slightly obsessed with the idea of building a window seat into our eco-reno. With storage underneath and books within reach. What do you think?

While walking with Soul in our neighbourhood we came across this new build. Small, light and built around existing trees. What will it look like when it’s finished?

There’s lots more news but that’s it for now, live lightly.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

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Savour a country slice on Route 62: Green Route

You can tell a lot about a country café by the size of its slice and what’s on the side

When you’re on a road trip it’s always good to know where you’re going to stop for lunch, whether it’s a roadside picnic of sarmies and boiled eggs or an off-the-beaten-track country café that serves food you won’t find anywhere else in South Africa.

You won’t find The Blue Cow Café in Barrydale if you stick to the main drag and all the biker stops. This is a place to seek out if you are more of a bird-lover-seeking-nature and some substantial-country-food type.

When we set off from Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm near De Rust in the Karoo, we set our sights on a slow drive along Route 62 until Barrydale where we would veer off the main drag and have lunch at the Blue Cow Coffee Shop.

What comes to mind when I tell you that there is something called a chicken cheesecake and that it is served at this very cafe? Before you write it off, I’m here to tell you that although your mind is probably grappling with the thought of a sweet cheesecake combined with a chicken filling it is a thing of great deliciousness and savouriness (banish all thought of sweet cheesiness).

We discovered the chicken cheesecake in 2018 when we did the first of two roundtrip road-trips, from Cape Town to De Rust via Barrydale, then Plett and back to Cape Town. I think we shared a portion the first time around, slightly apprehensive about the dish but this time I ordered my own portion. My very large portion.

But before we get to the food, let’s talk about the Blue Cow. It’s, literally, perched above a small dam on stilts with a wooden deck and weaver birds all around, weavering away at their dancing nests. And then there’s the view, over Barrydale to the mountains in the distance.

Owner Hannette Cooke starts chatting to us about “my girls”, two young women sitting in a quiet corner of the Blue Cow’s large wooden deck. “They’re not really my daughters but they go to the high school near the Blue Cow and I’m helping them out, making sure they work hard, study for exams and get to go to university,” says Hannette. The “girls” are smiling in agreement as Hannette explains her tough love policy.

“I’ve been accepted for Stellenbosch University for 2020,” says the older learner confidently. “After every exam I come to sit here with Hannette and we talk about the paper and start planning for the next one. “

“I’m tough on her,” says Hannette, delivering my chicken cheesecake.

It’s got a delicate, savoury crust and a cheesy-chicken filling and it’s topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. And let’s not forget the sides. There’s fresh coleslaw and green salad. Small dishes containing beetroot and olives. It was a big lunch and I devoured it. This is a holiday meal worth loosening the belt for, literally and figuratively.

I had been planning on having some freshly-baked apple pie (bursting with apple) or a hot scone but perhaps that will have to wait for another roadtrip.

Country slices are a fine thing when you’re exploring the back roads and hidden places in South Africa. When we were off-grid in De Rust  we were lured into the bright lights of De Rust village to sample the local cuisine one lazy lunchtime.

We had the stoep to ourselves at The Trading Post and we both ordered the chicken pie with “half chips/half salad” on the side, not 100% sure what we would be getting but it sounded filling.

Our pies arrived and they had been served with salad, roast veg, beetroot and enough robust chips to be called more than a quarter-portion. This was generous country-style cooking and the pies were packed with chicken, the pastry crisply layered.

Crucially, the pies were homemade and, equally important, they weren’t reheated in a microwave. But not to dwell on the occasional badly-heated pie, the pie with alles that we had for lunch at The Trading Post felt like a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. And then we followed it with the freshly-baked pear tart made with a sponge and served with creamy vanilla ice cream.

It was a country lunch that left me sleepy and ready for a nodding nap. We went back to the farm and I sank into the hammock next to the freshwater plunge pool where I digested my pie at a leisurely pace.

This story originally appeared in Daily Maverick TGIFood: A basket of pastoral goodness, off the grid

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Time for another catch-up from the South: Green Route

Join me for an open day, celebrate Soul time and a story about sticking to a fresh food budget with food artist Parusha Naidoo.

Soil for Life, one of the NPOs promoted by Green Route ZA, held an Autumn open day on Saturday and I went along, meeting my son there. At 9.30am we joined a workshop with plant-based chef Kuna Pancha who showed us how to make dosa with lentils. We had warm dosa with two chutneys Kuna made: a coconut chutney and a tomato-based one.

The biggest piece of news in our life is that we have a new dog, a most splendid hound called Soul. Be prepared for many, many photos of our canine companion who, despite a tough start in life, appears to be a genius.

It’s not all about Soul, although we are smitten with his goofy, gorgeous character. The Clovelly Community Market was held recently and I went along to stock up on Marinella’s marmalade and olives, Penny’s plants (two new wild olive trees for the garden) and a couple of new secondhand books. Plus Plethora Vegan (who lives in Clovelly) was at the market so I filled up a container (brought from home, well done me) with the delicious salads and some vegan lasagne and that was lunch sorted.

Have you heard about the #silversisters? Women around the world are celebrating their silver locks and quitting colour so I decided it was time to join them. I made my way up the cobbled alley that leads you to Beautiful Chaos and found a green haven, filled with plants and ….. a shampoo bar. I bought some silver shampoo and when the bottle is empty I’ll be going back to refill the bottle. So very pleased to have found a zero-waste solution to shampoo and conditioner.

I finally got round to writing another story for Daily Maverick: Parusha Naidoo: Thinking outside the veggie box. Parusha Naidoo sets herself a challenge to spend no more than R250 a week on fresh food and finds there’s more than enough to share with friends and family. I met Parusha through the Ocean View Organic Farm veggie box scheme and the Clovelly CAN, which supports the farmers.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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My night in a tiny home in South Africa: Green Route

The PanGoPod is a go-anywhere tiny home and when I was writing a story about tiny homes in South Africa Dr Pete Laver, the creator of the PanGoPod invited me to try out the tiny house for a night. Finally, I would see for myself what tiny house living was like

Living tiny is an unavoidable socio-economic reality for tens of millions of South Africans,” says Dr Pete Laver, a director at the Biodiversity and Development Institute, a South African non-profit.

“However, for people who have the choice, tiny home living can offer an alternative lifestyle in which one has to downscale possessions, and cultivate a lifestyle more focused on engaging with the community and environment around you,” said Laver.

The BDI has just completed its prototype off-grid, eco-friendly tiny home, the PanGoPod, which is sitting on a fynbos-covered slope below Dragonridge on Fynbos Estate in the Swartland.

“We designed and built the PanGoPod to accommodate international students who come to SA to do biodiversity research,” said Laver.

“Our goal is to bring down the cost of production of the PanGoPod and then partner with either civic or charitable organisations to be able to provide PanGoPods to people in need.

“We see PanGoPods as potential stepping stones to RDP, or other more substantial homes. We are a few years out from that.

“In the meantime, we think that our fully-equipped PanGoPods provide a good ‘plug-and-play’ solution for people who are in remote places, people who want to be able to move their home around, people who might not want the hassle of having ongoing construction on their site, or people who might want additional accommodation on their property for a family member, guests, or as an Airbnb option.”

Laver and a team from the BDI have built the tiny home to accommodate occupants in single or queen beds (in two lofts), and it has everything researchers need to live off-grid. It runs off solar panels, has rainwater collection and a composting loo.

There’s a raised loft bedroom at one end, with a bathroom under the loft, a galley kitchen and seating area with storage at the other end.

The PanGoPod

Dr Laver met us at the tiny house, ‘parked’ on Fynbos Estate, a farm near Malmesbury, and gave us a tiny tour.

Downstairs, there’s a big open-plan living area with a sleeper couch, kitchen and bathroom. Upstairs, there are two loft bedrooms, accessed by vertical ladders requiring good core strength. (I would go with an option that has one big loft bedroom with a user-friendly staircase with nifty storage underneath.)

It’s got everything you need, including USB points if the whole off-grid living thing gets too much.

There’s a gas stove, complete with whistling kettle, and an electric fridge powered by the rooftop solar panels. The bathroom consists of a composting toilet, a sink and a shower encased in zinc.

But the best tiny thing by far is the wooden deck on one side of the PanGoPod with views over the Paardeberg. Sliding doors bring the fynbos farm inside and the tiny home instantly becomes a much bigger space.

We were a bit lazy about catering tiny, stopping off at Babylonstoren en route to eat lunch and boiling up some pasta for supper.

Who needs food? I’m drinking in the loud silence and bird song in our little off-grid habitat powered by the sun. It feels substantial and because of the tall ceiling, it doesn’t feel cramped. Although, up in the eaves where the beds are, headspace gets a little tight and crawling comes into play.

When I was a little girl my great-gran lived in a caravan in my gran’s garden and I loved visiting her for tea at the Formica-topped built-in table at one end of the caravan. The PanGoPod reminds me of her and my fascination with all things tiny and the appeal of a simpler life.

After 24 hours in a tiny house in the fragrant fynbos I think I could live tiny part-time. I see it as an off-grid weekend country getaway spot rather than living tiny fulltime. And I’m buying myself a whistling kettle.

Wanderlust, KZN

While function is a priority in the PanGoPod, the highly Instagrammable tiny homes made by Matthew and Kendal Bower’s Ballito-based Wanderlust Co are big on style. Meticulous design and a soothing Scandi-palette of wood and white walls give a sense of space (see image above).

Wondering what the Tiny House movement is? Basically, you take a big trailer, build a house on it, then tow it to your desired location. The tiny homes movement has been growing steadily in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, embraced by millennials aspiring to a simpler, cheaper, more eco-conscious life. Take a look at Tiny House Nation on Netflix or Youtube’s  Living Big in a Tiny House, in which disarming New Zealander Bryce Langston tours a tiny house every week.

In-House Camp, KZN

Try tiny for size

If you’d like to book yourself into a tiny house in SA for a couple of nights Steve Walters in KwaZulu Natal rents out three tiny homes on his property, In-House Camp, in the Midlands, between Howick and Maritzburg. Book through In-House Camp

PanGoPod specs

The home’s solar panels provide hot water and energy for lights. USB ports and other appliances using 12V or 230V. There is a composting toilet. Water is recycled and can be used in a small washing machine and is also piped out into the garden. The only minimal carbon footprint comes from a gas cooker.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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Catching up in the south: Green Route

You can listen to this blog post on Spotify

It’s been a year since lockdown in SA. And time to catch up and post some photos of green spaces and places in and around Cape Town.

After being stuck at home for four months with two broken ankles (yes, two!) I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and headed for Scarborough.

Have you discovered Sunshine Cafe in Scarborough? Tucked away off the main road through Scarborough, I visited it for the first time recently. Great coffee, fresh bread and plants for sale. It’s a ray of sunshine!

Sunshine Cafe is just across the road from a long-time favourite restaurant: Whole Earth Cafe where we had lunch on the stoep.

Deliciously healthy food at Whole Earth Cafe in Scarborough.

Local lekkers from the monthly Clovelly community market: Marinella’s olives, Penny’s shortbread and granadillas displayed on a shelf made from upcycled pallet wood.

I enjoy smoking every then and now but dislike the smell and taste of tobacco. Plus it’s carcinogenic and addictive. But I’ve discovered herbal blends like the newly-launched Smokables brand. It looks like tobacco, burns like tobacco but it’s herbal. Give it a try.

Five years ago I decided to focus all my attention on eco-conscious living and set up Green Route ZA. So it’s great to feature in a story in the Sunday Times Green magazine alongside Himkaar Singh from The Compost Kitchen, Shaun Robertson (Shaun the Vegan), Joy Phala from Organic Kitchen Gardens and eco-designer Das Lyon.

Here’s to growing more organic green routes.

Read more stories by me in Daily Maverick here

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Victoria’s Pantry and other Hope Street Market secrets in Hermanus: Green Route

Victoria Young-Pugh started the only zero-waste store in Hermanus, Victoria’s Pantry, a year ago. I caught up with her to talk about eco-conscious living in the Overberg.

By Victoria Young-Pugh

I am 23 years old. I grew up in Somerset West, lived for a year in Madrid and then moved to Cape Town where I studied to be a chef at Silwood School of Cookery. After studying and working in restaurants I decided that cooking as a career was not what I wanted to do. I then did my Yoga Teacher Training, moved to Hermanus and started teaching Yoga full time. I now run my shop and also teach Yoga.

I feel like I have always been eco-aware. I grew up in a family that is very environmentally conscious and we have always been nature lovers. I think teaching Yoga has also had a huge impact on the way I live – it has promoted me to live with a kinder mindset and has made me more grateful for this beautiful planet we live on. Living in Hermanus has also inspired me as it is such an untouched area and I’d like to protect that for as long as possible. Plastic is my main fight at the moment as it is so disastrous for the environment and the ocean. 

The restaurant industry really opened my eyes to how much food wastage and plastic wastage there is in South Africa and the world. I volunteered at the Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West for a couple of months and this also made me realise the severity of habit-loss is for wild animals and the impact humans have on the earth. It’s all connected. As I’ve become older I’ve tried to make my involvement in the environment a lifestyle. I’ve stopped eating meat, I always pick up litter whenever I walk on the beach and I try to buy as little plastic as possible. Lately I have also been very aware of where the goods that I buy come from. I’ve realised the importance of supporting local farmers and businesses rather than supporting mass chain grocery stores. It’s something that I will continuously work on improving and evolving.

I usually teach a Yoga class in the morning before work, then set up the shop. My day involves a lot of trimming spinach, filling up jars and cleaning! Otherwise, I’m helping customers weigh out goods, collecting various goods like olive oil and eggs from farmers in the area and answering emails. As my shop is very young I am always trying to see how I can evolve the shop and make it better. 

The shop is a very good promotion for eco-living. It’s very satisfying to see people’s reactions when they walk in; some are confused and some are over the moon. For those unsure about how the shop works, I explain the process to them and just by doing that it creates more awareness about eco-friendly living. I am an eco-brick drop off point and everything I sell is eco-friendly. I have an Instagram page @VictoriasPantry where I post experiences and tips on how to become more zero-waste. 

Future Forecast: where do you see SA in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years?

South Africa’s future is always difficult to predict. We have so many people who are struggling merely to survive that being eco-aware is just not a priority for them. I strongly hope that the people who are educated and can afford to live a more environmentally friendly life will learn to do so. South Africa has incredible potential and if we have strong leaders we can definitely grow into an amazing and successful country.

2020 Green Vision: What’s the way forward for a greener, cleaner more eco-aware SA? 

If everybody just does a little bit, it all adds up. I’d love to see South Africa ban plastic bags over the next 5 years – this will have a huge impact on the environment. 

Victoria’s Pantry on Facebook . on Instagram . 082 645 2570

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The Easy Peasy guide to growing your own food: Green Route

We are living in very strange times. Drought, fires, load shedding, ice floes, unemployment, coronavirus. 2020 isn’t looking like a very good year but there are signs of positive growth because urban gardening is trending in the wake of the worldwide Covid-19 lockdown.

I’ve been in lockdown since February 28.

This was the day that my husband broke his ankle in a motorbike accident on his morning commute into the CBD. I thought I’d be looking after him as he hobbled around the house, adjusting to life on crutches and working from home.

But, two days after his accident, I woke up feeling so ill that I couldn’t get to the GP and begged him, most piteously, to do a home visit. I was sent to hospital for swabs up the nose and the throat and a test for H1N1 (bird flu) and told I had H. Influenza (also known as Hib and babies and children get vaccinated against it. I can see why.)

So, while the rest of the country went into lockdown on March 26, we’ve been cooped up since February 28. Have I already mentioned that?

Sitting in my privileged home office with its bay window looking out onto the indigenous, water-wise garden that draws birds, butterflies and bees, I decided to revive my flagging veggie garden. I need some fresh, packaging-free greens in my life.

Since the drought of 2018, when I gave up watering the lawn and dug up half of it for my badly-timed veggie garden, the “veggie beds” have gradually given way to succulents and geraniums, scavenged from verges and propagated at home.

And I’m taking the easy route when it comes to planting. I’ve ordered a mixed tray of 24 seasonal seedlings from Easy Peasy Seedlings, part of NPO SEED, in Cape Town.

NPO SEED, based in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town, grows seasonal seed trays, taking all the guesswork out of gardening for me.

SEED offers training for youths keen to pursue a career in permaculture and it has permission to carry on with the Easy Peasy Seedlings business during lockdown, being an essential food supplier. 

I order two April trays online and get a message to say that I can collect my seedlings from a private home in Kenilworth for a zero-contact collection. When I get there we keep our physical distance and mumble through our masks and I transport my seedling babies (trays includes Cos lettuce, cauliflower, kale, alyssum, beetroot, peas and spring onions) home. Find Easy Peasy Seedlings on Instagram for seedling updates @easypeasyseedlings

Seedlings sorted, let’s talk about soil. In our case, sand-soil. The wild and waterwise succulents and geraniums know how to handle poor soil but my seedling babies won’t be happy. Compost to the rescue. (to be continued)

This is an extract from a story I wrote for Daily Maverick: The Easy Peasy guide to growing greens

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Read the second part of the story here

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Mielie Mailer founder leads the way in developing plastic alternatives: Green Route

Forward-thinking Trent Pike, 26, taps into sustainable packaging with Mielie Mailer

I was studying Business Science in Economics & Statistics at UCT before I deferred for the second time to pursue Mielie Mailer.

My two co-founders and I, Renato Marchesini (Business Science Marketing at UCT) and Erik Bourlov (a Gemologist), wanted to create a business that would make a positive impact in South Africa.

We created Mielie Mailer, a 100% compostable plastic alternative to traditional delivery sleeves. It’s a simple concept but one that could remove up to 50 million single-use plastic bags from circulation every year.

We launched in September 2019 and, driven by a sense of urgency that we were running out of time, it took us only nine months from ideation to launch.

I’ve always cared deeply about the planet. Cowspiracy, which I watched in 2015, kick-started my journey to minimise my impact on the planet. After watching it, I went vegan “cold-turkey” (excuse the very unvegan pun). I also began consuming information on the subject at a fervent pace.

Learning about the state of our planet and our culpability has caused me a fair bit of eco-anxiety, an affliction many in my generation are facing. Thankfully, this anxiety has been empowering rather than debilitating.

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. We fully agree. Education is the reason Mielie Mailer exists, and it’s the reason the world is finally waking up to our climate reality.

We are going through a pretty radical change in societal norms and values. Right now plastic and climate change are public enemy number one and two respectively.  And so, the idea for Mielie Mailer followed this thought process.

  1.   We want to change the world.
  2.   Single-use plastic is destroying our planet’s beautiful biodiversity.
  3.   Climate change is destroying our planet.
  4.   e-commerce is the fastest-growing retail sector in the economy.
  5.   The number of deliveries is increasing… deliveries emit C02…. deliveries are wrapped in plastic…
  6.   …. Mielie Mailer!

It’s been an incredibly busy few months and, to be honest, most of it has been a blur, but to execute on a vision so quickly and then to be so well-received has been an incredible payoff.

Often, it’s the inaction of the last generation in the face of evidence (and common sense) that is blamed for our current planetary state. It’s this fear of inaction and of the responsibility to act in the light of knowledge that drives the entire team at Mielie Mailer.

We’re enablers. We’re here to create sustainable alternatives to everyday products – most notably single-use plastics.

Consumer sentiment is changing rapidly and we want to make sure that their new requirements are met. We don’t want someone to have to compromise on their beliefs because a solution isn’t available. It’s something I’ve had to do in the past and it’s not a lekker feeling.

Following our belief in the power of knowledge, other than creating these alternatives, we promote eco-conscious living through education. We’re in a nascent field and as such, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion. Some companies are creating and promoting products and services which are good for the planet, while others are “greenwashing” their products to increase their market share and brand value.

To combat this, we have a blog which we use to inform and educate and we also have a weekly newsletter, The Mielie Maverick.

Future Forecast

The effects of climate change are no longer some far-off, distant worry. Climate change has become a clear and present crisis. Australia is on fire. Heatwaves struck much of the world in 2019, including Western Europe. Between 2015 and 2020 the cost of climate-related disasters in the US topped $525 billion, close to a third of the cost of natural disasters since 1980. 

We see South Africa’s future as green. Regardless of whether it’s a nationally driven initiative or change brought upon by international pressure, South Africa will transition to a greener economy and with it a more equitable future.

Five-year forecast: Plastic-free & Plant-based

China has announced its intention to phase out single-use plastic bags in major cities by the end of 2020 and the rest of the country by 2025. As the largest producer and consumer of single-use plastics on the planet, their policy signals the end of plastic as we know it.

The Economist declared 2019 as Year of the Vegan, South Africa had the sixth highest sign-ups for the global Veganuary campaign in 2019 and, according to Google trends, South Africa ranks among the world’s 25 nations where veganism is most popular. While still in the early stages of adoption, veganism in South African should become mainstream in the next five years as vegan alternatives become cheaper, widely available and tastier. 

10-year forecast: Sustainable, Decentralised Power Generation 

As Eskom continues to suffer from mismanagement and corruption and as our economy continues to be hampered by unreliable power and frequent load-shedding, new solutions to power generation have to be found. On Tuesday 14 January this year, Cyril Ramaphosa announced his intention to embrace self-generation as a solution to our electricity woes.

Coupled with international pressure and our Paris Agreement commitments, South Africa will be forced to move away from coal and towards renewable energy production. Given our empty state coffers, it seems likely that self-generation (independent power plants and household solar-panels) is the solution.

20-year forecast: Conscious Capitalism and Equality

As capitalism becomes conscious, businesses will move away from measuring performance from the perspective of shareholder value and towards that of stakeholder value. Society’s well-being and “happiness” will start replacing GDP as a measure of the health of an economy and country.

This mindset shift is already happening. The official theme of this year’s World Economic Forum was “better capitalism”. 

“Our capitalism must be sustainable; it must allow us to fight against global warming following a rapid and credible calendar,” Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister told reporters, according to a translation.

2020 Green Vision 

We would love to see South Africa embrace a greener future. Our country has needed an economic revolution since the end of apartheid and we think the “green-economy” offers us the opportunity to finally realise this.

Capitalism has been the greatest driver of human wealth and ingenuity in history, but along the way, it has been perverted. Our university graduates are indoctrinated into believing that the only responsibility of a business is to maximise shareholder value. They live, work and create by this doctrine which is naturally selfish and exclusive. Changing this narrative from shareholder value and towards stakeholder value is the key to a greener, cleaner more eco-aware SA.

Entrepreneurs build our world. They are the stewards of our future. It’s why we believe that above everything else, the key to a greener future is making sure entrepreneurs create and build on a foundation of climate justice where success is measured not only by profits but also positive societal impact. MC

This story originally appeared in Daily Maverick: Young people have solutions to plastic packaging

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To buy the any products from Cosmic Bazaar, including Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking and CBD for animals, visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Shop online for eco-essentials and get 10% off: Green Route

I’ve organised 10% off two of my favourite sustainable brands in Cape Town: Hemporium SA and Cosmic Bazaar.

Get 10% off when you use the discount code at the online checkout: GRZA.

Shop local and sustainable, take the Green Route ZA

What are my lockdown essentials? Apart from lots of greens, of course. Well, let’s start with lavender oil for its calming, soothing effect. Then there’s CBD oil from Cosmic Bazaar. I take the balanced blend to help keep me balanced. In the kitchen there’s our trusty Wonderbag for slow-cooking chickpeas. And the bag lady in me loves shopping for daily essential goods from zero-waste store (online and in Muizenberg) The Daily Goods Store. I’m ditching cosmetics in plastic from my life and only buying local goodies in glass from now on and RESTOCK Shop has that covered.

Cosmic Bazaar: get 10% off when you buy CBD oil from Cosmic Bazaar Use the GRZA discount code at the online checkout to get your discount. The discount applies to any Cosmic Bazaar products, including Wonderbags and zero-waste food. SHOP

Green Route ZA – the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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Mama Mickey’s soup kitchen in Khayelitsha needs our help: Green Route

Mama Mickey Linda’s soup kitchen is in a hemp building in Khayelitsha where she serves up nourishing meals to 250 people a day.

Hemporium SA co-owner Tony Budden says: “As we all sit in lockdown, most of us with fully-stocked fridges, there are many who are struggling and going hungry. Mama Mickey from the Yiza Ekhaya Soup Kitchen in Khayelitsha reached out to me to ask for help as they are battling to find food in the shops in their area, and the amount of people coming to the soup kitchen to be fed is growing every day.

“If you can spare a donation please see bank details below, or even better, if you have a source of veggies and things for soups, even better. I will arrange transport.
“They also appealed for more masks, sanitiser and gloves to keep everyone safe there, especially the volunteers because if they go down, people go hungry.
Please help if you can. ” Watch Mama Mickey’s appeal here.

Mama Mickey Linda is a legend who looks after many people in Khayelitsha with her nutritious soup and love from her Yiza Ekhaya Soup Kitchen.

Mama Mickey runs a soup kitchen in Khayelitsha

Mickey supplements the diet of the the 250 people she feeds with hemp oil and protein from Hemptons MD.

“Mickey starts her day at 4.30am or 5am to receive the first kids of the day, who she looks after and feeds. By 10am she will have fed 140 children in the community breakfast hall. After that, it’s time to start preparing lunch for approximately 80 children and 20 elderly people. Mickey explains that the elderly are mostly on medication, which is why she must feed them. They have medication but no food with which to to take it.

Yiza Ekhaya Soup Kitchen

“The Yiza Ekhaya community project runs from an extension of her RDP home. Mickey does not have access to many resources and relies on a few dedicated supporters to ensure her project runs. When her funding is regular then Mickey is able to do her work. When the funding stops, then she does what she can from her pension, until this runs out again. Mickey appreciates help in any form. If you have time, money or surplus seeds or compost for the community garden you can make a donation.”

To find out how you can assist contact Mickey on  072 010 4337, or there are a number of ways to donate via their website.

Want to donate directly to Mama Mickey’s soup kitchen? This money will be used for food supplies for the children.

Yiza Ekhaya Soup Kitchen
Acc # 9243090817
Absa Khayelitsha Mall

Please send Proof of Payment to yiza@greenhome.co.za.

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Eco-activist Xolani Hlongwa from ID Green Camp Gallery is joining the green dots: Green Route

Meet grassroots activist Xolani Hlongwa from Durban, founder of ID: Green Camp Gallery, who shares his passion for living a greener life.

Xolai Hlongwa, founder of ID: Green Camp Gallery Project. Photo: Supplied

When I was growing up my grandfather kept cows on a farm near Port Shepstone, on the South Coast, says Xolani Hlongwa, founder of ID: Green Camp Gallery Project in Durban’s Glenwood. 

“Staying with him gave me a sense of what life was like on a farm, a connection to the land. I was conflicted about going home to live in the township,” says Hlongwa. 

“I looked around me in the township and I saw environmental injustices,” says Hlongwa, who lives in one room in the property at 246 Umbilo Road and 5 Essex Road, Glenwood.
“I came from a broken home and there was no money for education so I had to leave school with only a Matric certificate. I was expected to go out and get a job working for a white man who would pay me a pitiful salary but I didn’t want to live like that.

“I got onto a drama and dance programme for underprivileged children that was offered by the Playhouse Theatre and from there I got into ballet.

“I thought dance would be my ticket out of the township but it didn’t work out and I ended up giving in to my family and getting a regular job.

“I started working at a Playtex factory but when I reconnected with friends from my old ballet class who were living in a backpackers, planning to get funding to set up a ballet school, I chucked in the job and moved out of home again and into the backpackers.

“The ballet school idea didn’t get off the ground but I was offered accommodation and a job at the backpackers that paid R1,500 a month. I had it made!
“It was the first time I’d had white friends and I met backpackers from all over the world, including a Swedish woman who I got involved with. I lived in Europe (Sweden, Germany) for 10 years and that’s where my eco-conscious ideas came together.

“I studied sustainable development because I was inspired by the way people in Sweden live in harmony with nature.”

Hlongwa had numerous jobs in different areas, including working as an organic chef in a school cooperative in Stockholm that focused on organic lifestyle. 

“I developed a passion for the environment and that was when I came up with my Intelligent Design (ID) concept. Green Camp Gallery Project is the first baby of ID and it provides answers to all our needs in an organic way. I’m creating a replicable model of sustainable living at Green Camp,” says Hlongwa.

“We need to change people’s mindset about the environment in SA: my family doesn’t even understand the difference between organic and GMO seed.”

What have you given up for the environment?
“I have given up a comfortable life in Sweden and my township identity. I don’t have friends in the township any more because of my eco-conscious lifestyle. I live in the ruins of Green Camp and I don’t get to see my children much because they live with their mothers in Sweden (two daughters) and Germany (a son),” says Hlongwa.

Xolani’s natural habitat
Xolani lives and works at Green Camp Gallery Project, an organic and sustainable lifestyle hub that focuses on “urban farming and creativity in all its forms”. 

“We are a distribution point for organic vegetables from local farms and I try to visit these farms to see where our food is coming from,” says Hlongwa.

“Area Based Management is an organisation that I have worked with. It is an eThekwini municipality programme looking at off-grid building and regeneration of the inner city.

“I enjoy visiting Antbear Eco Lodge, an organic permaculture farm in the Drakensberg that we lived on for a while.”

“My eco-crush? To be honest, it’s me, Xolani. The problem with asking me to name someone else as my eco-crush is that if I pick a white person I will be accused of racism. I don’t see colour. I am a human being and that’s how I see everyone: as human beings.”

Sustainable Development Goals UN Sustainable Development Goals

To read the full story in Daily Maverick see Meet your eco-heroes

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Eco-influencer Janisha Harie from Jozi shares her passion for living a greener life: Green Route

Meet the chemical engineer turned eco-influencer who shares her passion for living a greener life

“I am a chemical engineer by profession. After working for almost 10 years in the petrochemical industry, I became seriously ill with an occupational lung disease that was induced by chemical exposure,” says eco-influencer Janisha Harie, 34.

The impact on her life was huge, says Durban-born Harie, who now lives in Johannesburg.

“I had to leave the chemical operations environment and I turned to natural and alternative healing modalities, started using chemical-free personal care and household cleaning products, and adopted a mostly plant-based whole foods diet in order to aid my healing.

“As I became aware of what I putting into and onto my body, I also became conscious of how I was consuming and the waste that I was generating.

“I became increasingly aware of the global crisis of plastic pollution, started transitioning to a plastic-free lifestyle, and used my social media platforms to advocate for sustainable living.

“I choose consciousness over convenience, and advocate for plastic-free and low-waste living, chemical-free living, as well as mindful health and wellness,” says Harie.

Zero-waste at SEK Collective PHOTO Supplied

What has Janisha given up for the environment?

“I refuse single-use plastics, and over time I have swopped out many other household and lifestyle products for more sustainable alternatives

“I am a vegetarian and choose local, organic and package-free food where possible. For those items that are packaged, I recycle what I can, and EcoBrick the rest

“All my home cleaning products, personal care and beauty products are natural, cruelty-free and chemical-free

“I try to support local sustainable lifestyle and fashion brands rather than buy fast fashion

“I use my clothes, electronics and homeware for as long as possible before replacing them, and try to repair, reuse and repurpose whatever I can.

Janisha’s natural habitat

“Over the weekends you’ll usually find me seeking out a green space in the city, and whenever I have an opportunity for a longer break I try to head to the mountains or the ocean.

The Refillery, a favourite eco-conscious shopping spot. Photo: Supplied

My favourite places to shop eco-consciously are: Faithful to Nature (online), The Refillery, SEK Zero Waste Store, 44 Stanley, The Bryanston Organic Market and Jacksons Real Food Market.

When I want green space in Jozi I’ll head for The Wilds, James and “Ethel Grey Park, Emmarentia Dam and Nirox Sculpture Park.

“My eco-crush? There are so many people in SA and around the world doing incredible things to make a change that I can’t single out just one.”

To read the full story on Daily Maverick see Meet your eco-heroes

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Eco Atlas founder Rhian Berning lives lightly on the Garden Route: Green Route

Meet climate activist Rhian Berning who shares her passion for living a greener life

Rhian Berning in front of her off-grid house on the Garden Route, South Africa. Photo: Supplied

“It’s hard to say where my passion for the environment comes from, it’s a bit like breathing,” says Rhian Berning, an environmental scientist and founder of Eco Atlas, a search engine for eco-friendly accommodation, products and services in South Africa.

Berning, 42, lives in an off-grid house on the Garden Route with her husband, two children and a small menagerie of animals.

“I remember having a lot of empathy as a child, empathy for all life, for trapped insects, abused animals and bullied children. I think empathy and kindness are at the core of being ‘eco-conscious’,” says Berning.

Berning studied Environmental Science at UCT as well as a postgrad in Education, and for many years her focus was on environmental education with SEED, Nature Network and Eco-Schools.

Seven years ago she founded Eco Atlas, an online search engine for “places good for people and planet”.

“Eco Atlas was born of the premise that we can create a groundswell of positive change through our daily choices if where we shop, eat, stay and play is based on having positive social and environmental impacts,” says Berning.

“In other words our daily choices actually become good for both people and the planet if they are well informed and we vote with our wallets for the places actively water saving, upskilling staff, supporting local suppliers and working towards zero waste.

Off-grid, eco-accommodation on Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm near De Rust. Photo: Supplied

“Eco Atlas allows you to search, recommend and review places based on these criteria so you can actively play a part in creating a better world. We really can all be everyday activists in our own way,” adds Berning.

Berning and her family have embraced sustainable living in their self-build house near Plettenberg Bay. “We live in an off-grid home that we rebuilt after losing everything to the Garden Route fires. We run 100% on solar power and rainwater and we filter and recycle all of our waste-water into the growing of food.

“We live as low impact as we can with the principles of supporting local, creating minimal waste, growing organic food, protecting the biodiversity of our area by planting indigenous and leaving natural areas to be, well, natural.”

What has Rhian given up for the environment?

“I’m on a journey to give up all single-use plastics, and I think we need to see it like that, as a journey, because all the systems are not yet set up in our town (and many others) to be completely single-use plastic free, but I’m confident that that time will come.

“I always have my reusable water bottle, my reusable shopping bags and produce bags, my own container for takeaways, my glass straws for my children with me, as part of my survival kit for refusing single-use plastics.

“However, I’m not able to get all my food packaging-free and so those bits of packaging go into an EcoBrick which we will be using to build structures at schools.

“I’m surprised how quickly we as a family have slipped into these new habits and what was unusual simply becomes the new norm. My reasoning for going zero-waste is that in nature there is no concept of waste, it does not exist, one animal’s waste is another’s treasure, we need to see all our ‘waste’ as a resource.”

“Our home is vegan/vegetarian, but with my husband eating completely plant-based it is just easier to cook vegan meals for the whole family instead of cooking two different meals.

“Flying is not something I do regularly at all. However, if there is a conference or workshop I really need to attend I might do a short-haul flight once or twice a year because our public transport system in no way compares to that of Europe where the no-flying commitment has really taken off, inspired by Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot.”

Sunrise over Plettenberg Bay. Photo: Melanie Farrell

Rhian’s natural habitat

You’ll find Rhian in her veggie garden or on a beach along the Garden Route. “From Nature’s Valley to Robberg Peninsula we are blessed with some of the best beaches in the world, the sea is clean and just the right temperature, the beaches expansive and the coastal forest glints in the sunlight,” says Rhian.

When it comes to shopping Rhian tries to support local, eco-conscious brands. “We are lucky to have a travelling zero-waste store in the form of the Garden of Dee-Light, where you can bring your own containers and get all your staple grains and.”

My eco-crush? Wangari Maathai, although she is no longer with us, is definitely my biggest eco crush. She used the planting of trees as a powerful medium of political change, for women’s empowerment and the regeneration of the land that had been pillaged by colonialism. She was imprisoned and beaten and still she did not give up and the Green Belt movement went on to plant 30 million trees. She was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I also have a soft spot for Arundhati Roy and Barbara Kingsolver and of course Greta Thunberg, who is the eco crush of the moment!”

To read the full story on Daily Maverick read Meet your eco-heroes

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Indigenous ingredients go into handmade skincare from Lola&Co: Green Route

Olwethu Ngcobo is an entrepreneur, organic skincare formulator, photographer, urban farmer and environmental protector from Worcester

I have my own business, Lola&Co Organics, where we sell organic skincare products that we formulate using our hands and indigenous ingredients. 

We make our products in small batches using organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, butters, oils and Hydrosols.

I love all things natural and DIY. My business started when I was dealing with skin break outs and then I started making my own skincare products at home. 

Lola and co Organics is for consumers who are environmentally aware and want to know where their skincare ingredients come from. It’s for people with sensitive skin and who want to have that spa treatment in the comfort of their home.  

I also teach sustainable living classes for those who want to grow their food and at community schools to educate young children about how our food grows and gets to our tables.  

I was born and raised in Worcester and then moved to Cape Town. We were always outdoors and surrounded by nature so it was like going back to my childhood. We had a garden at our gran’s and me and my cousins had to look after it; it was a chore then but now I understand it. 

My gran always taught us to be self-sufficient but we never understood her as we thought we had everything but she was teaching us to create something from scratch. 

My inspiration has been people who use what they have and make the best of it! Simple ingredients create the best formulas. I love learning by sharing only skills and vice versa. 

Olwethu’s five favourite green spaces

  1. Any hiking spot: That’s where I get my free workout and meditation.
  2. Zero-waste stores: They have everything you need at a good price and use your own containers. 
  3. Farmers markets: You can get your fresh produce straight from the source. 
  4. Small-scale farms: You can get educated about how to grow your food and be able to be self-sufficient. 
  5. Library: They have all the books you need to educate yourself and start a new path, and it’s all free. GRZA

Lola&Co Organics

The Daily Goods Store – zero-waste shopping in Muizenberg and online

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH HEMPORIUM SA – 10% OFF

Use the GRZA discount code at the Hemporium SA online store checkout and get 10% off. GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA own-brand clothing, accessories and cosmetics online.

Note: GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA’s own-brand clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it does not apply to nutritional products like CBD, or to fabric or building materials.

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Michele’s magical vegan Ayurvedic dosa: My Green Route

I popped in to the Vegan Lifestyle Fair and chatted to vegan ayurveda cook Michele Mistry from Indikaap Vegan Ayurveda. She was making fresh dosa – fermented rice pancakes – and filling them with coconut chutney and vegetables. Served with a ‘soup’ or sauce that you dip your dosa into. So delicious.

What is dosa?

A dosa is a cooked flat thin layered rice batter, originating from South India, made from a fermented batter. It is similar to a crepe in appearance and its main ingredients are rice and black gram ground together in a fine, smooth batter with a dash of salt.

INDIKAAP was founded in 2015 by Michele Mistry, who craved the food culture she grew up with and didn’t see reflected in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.

Home chef and mother Michele has a simple food philosophy:

“Food is an allegory, a poem.
It is the concrete manifestation of lifetimes of experiences, cultural heritage, knowledge and adaptation. It is our story retold through our senses of taste, sound, sight, smell, touch and intuition.
It has the power to heal, integrate and transform. .
Communities are built around a fire and a pot.”

Michele Mistry, Indikaap

On the spur of the moment I decided to interview Michelle while she was cooking. She offers cooking classes at her Pinelands home.

Michele has collaborated with urban farmers, using their organic produce to create meals at organic markets.

Michele Mistry of INDIKAAP

Michele is passionate about zero-waste living and in a recent blog post she explains: “My zero-waste journey started 15 years ago, by  an inspirational friend. Louise would bring her own plate, cup and cutlery to every function and event, to avoid using plastic or paper. She grew her own vegetables, wore second-hand clothing and was Vegan except for the occasional palak paneer that she enjoyed at our table. At the time, her lifestyle seemed severe and would often get a raised eyebrow. Today, it’s clear that she was the visionary amongst us.” Read full post here.

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. Enter the code: GRZA at the check out to get 10% off your order.

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Take an off-grid staycation in Camps Bay: Green Route

My husband and I stayed at Atholl House for a night earlier this year and I wrote a short blog post about our luxe mini-break.

I needed a break. Just a little one. A staycation-type break for one night. Wishes do come true because my son, Sam, who works with newly-relaunched Atholl House, an eco-villa in Camps Bay, invited us to stay for a night.

I like staycations. I particularly like staycations in exclusive, boutique eco-villas. It’s not a hotel but it feels like one. There are only three double bedrooms, all with en suites that feel like spas and views that stretch from Oudekraal to Lion’s Head.

I had the pool to myself!

This is where I swam and I had the pool area to myself. David was upstairs reading, it was a Monday morning and there I was, reclining on that covered double lounger.

There are solar panels on the roof generating power for Atholl House and eco-mattresses from Cocomat SA have been used on all the beds.

I’m in love with the living roof full of colour and waving grasses Photo: Melanie Farrell
A glimpse of the decor at Atholl House. Photo: Melanie Farrell
A corner of the garden feels like Greece with views over the ocean and a shady spot to sit. Photo: Melanie Farrell
In love with the plantings in the garden, creating calm cameos. Photo: Melanie Farrell

See the Atholl House Gallery here

PS I took a couple of my eco-essentials with me: my hemp twine tote from Hemporium SA, my CBD oil from Cosmic Bazaar and my Mungo throw.

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Take a slow Muizenberg meander around this seaside town: Green Route

There’s something about Muizenberg that draws me to its cafes, streets and beach. Join me on a meander

If you check out my Instagram account you’ll see a lot of photos of Muizenberg beach, cafes, the catwalk and the village shops.

Images of Muizies have appeared so often on my ‘feed’ that people have asked whether I live there. Perhaps what appeals is the laid-back surfer culture where you can queue for your coffee at Knead next to a surfer in a wetsuit, still dripping from the ocean.

There’s also the architecture. Old buildings have retained their charm and in the old village a zero-waste store, The Daily Goods Store, is at the heart of the community.

I have discovered a new filter on Instagram and I also received a wide-angle lens for my phone (there is such a thing) so I’ve been snapping away at Muizenberg. Perhaps the Comic Book filter appeals to me because it transforms my photos into artworks, as you shall see.

Take a meander around Muizenberg Village with me and please share your favourite SA villages with me. I’d love to know about the green spaces and places in your ‘hood.

Happy New Year, you-all, and let’s keep growing a greener future by supporting eco-conscious businesses, eco-NPOs and zero-waste stores.

What small (and big) changes are you thinking of making in 2020?

Listening to Greta Thunberg on BBC radio on December 30, 2019 was disheartening. Basically, the scientists say that 2020 is our last chance to make a different to climate change. Last chance.

That means no more time and if we don’t get our act together this year we have a grim future. The raging wildfires in Australia’s Victoria, packed with tourists because it’s the Christmas holidays, have closed down entire towns and scientists agree that they are linked to the climate crisis.

Greta was guest-editing the Radio 4 3-hour show from 6am to 9am and there were stories that weren’t directly linked to climate change but Greta persevered and, overall, it’s not looking good for the planet.

So let’s clean up our act.

What small (and big) changes are you thinking of making in 2020?

Harvest Cafe hang out

Sustainable resolutions from @shopwithgoodintent

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

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To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Slow food and a slice of country life in Stanford: Green Route

I’m fascinated by farms in and around Stanford. Perhaps one day I’ll live on one with a couple of chickens?

We’ve been visiting Stanford for years and I’m drawn to the quiet village life, cafes and locally produced food. One of my favourite farms near Stanford is Klein River Cheese with its bucolic setting and delicious cheese for the tasting. We had the cheese platter for two – a selection of cheese made on the farm, served with homemade pickles and ciabatta.

Our picnic was washed down with cider made by local Birkenhead Brewery and we split a chocolate brownie. The best tables are outside and the kids can run around on the lawns.

At the morning market held every Saturday on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel I discovered Fiona Baxter from Little Brownstone Farm and her hand-dyed and spun sheep’s wool.

Fiona Baxter at the Saturday morning market

Knitters will love the colours of the natural dyes Fiona makes from fynbos flowers and bluegum bark on her farm. Fiona spins some of  the wool on her farm and also employs two women in Stanford as spinners.

I also met Brydon Havercroft, from Havercroft’s restaurant, at the market on the stoep, and came away with a selection of sublime ‘health’ cakes.

Brydon Havercroft from Havercroft’s restaurant

Real chocolate, local dairy, stoneground flour and almond flour were some of the options. Perhaps not quite ‘health’ but oh so delicious.

Exploring the Wandelpad that snakes alongside the Klein River I had to stop and take in the trees and the winding pathway that gives occasional glimpses of cottages on the riverbank.

River walk PHOTO Jennie Chancey

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living.

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Read the story of Mama Mickey’s Soup Kitchen in Khayelitsha.

Note: GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA’s own-brand clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it does not apply to nutritional products like CBD, or to fabric or building materials.

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Nikki Brighton’s eco-conscious Howick and her Midlands Mosaic: Green Route

Howick, in KwaZulu-Natal is the centre of the universe. Well, Nikki Brighton’s Green Universe anyway. Eco-activist Nikki shares her Green Route with us.

‘I like to walk to meetings, loathe supermarkets and need to have wild places within easy reach – which makes Howick just perfect for me. I know just where to find food producers following best practice.

Every meal we eat I am able to thank everyone personally for the contribution they made to my plate of food. Not forgetting the butterflies, rivers, bees, farm workers, sunshine and shop keepers that played a role before the ingredients got to my table. This is perfectly natural to me now, but often surprises others.

Much of my food comes from my garden, where pumpkins climb up sorghum stalks and the lablab beans and nasturtiums get in a tangle.

Every meal we eat I am able to thank everyone personally for the contribution they made to my plate of food. Not forgetting the butterflies, rivers, bees, farm workers, sunshine and shop keepers that played a role before the ingredients got to my table. This is perfectly natural to me now, but often surprises others.

Much of my food comes from my garden, where pumpkins climb up sorghum stalks and the lablab beans and nasturtiums get in a tangle.

Swop out: Midlands Barter Markets

I am a regular at the two Howick Exchanges (second Wednesday and last Saturday) under a big tree on a common in the suburbs. It is a joyous system for sharing excess that might otherwise go to waste and often you find unusual things like African horned cucumbers or Jerusalem artichokes.

Bartering is wonderful for building community, besides our excess produce, we share seeds and recipes and gardening tips, pre-loved clothes and advice about raising chickens and where to find a good plumber.

Dovehouse Organics Farm Shop

This shop is a great reason to live in Howick. Besides a wide range of locally grown seasonal fruit and veg (the best green beans!), ethical honey, venison and free-range eggs, they have all the basics one could possibly need. Pro-biotic cleaning products (bring your own container to fill), Esse cosmetics (local and the best), organic grains, spices, lentils, just everything.

There are plenty of natural places to walk in Howick. and my favourites are uMngeni River path and the uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve.

uMngeni River path walk

Early mornings, I walk along the banks of the river with my dog, Beans. The river path is maintained by volunteers with donations from the community and is very popular with dog walkers. Herons stalk in the wetland, crowned cranes fly overhead and kingfishers dart from the river banks.

Often I forage for some wild edibles while I walk – nettles, chickweed or lamb’s quarters are my favourites.

Read Nikki’s interview with Bill Speight, keeper of the river path.

Waterfall walks uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve

uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve is virtually ‘in town’. The reserve starts below Howick Falls and runs along the river gorge and is an easily accessible spot to completely escape into grassland or forest and sit quietly beside a waterfall.

I particularly enjoy the Dwarf’s Dawdle Trail, the mass of Brunsvigia radulosa in flower in early summer and love to see the baby zebras frolicking beside their mothers.’ Midlands Mosaic – Nikki Brighton

All copy and photos by Nikki Brighton for Green Route ZA – thank you for sharing your path to eco-conscious living Nikki! See Nikki’s blog Midlands Mosaic

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order.

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Fabric artist Ira Bekker’s budding eco-printing workshops: Green Route

I learnt how to do eco-printing in a workshop with fabric artist Ira Bekker from UBU Botanicals who talks about her eco journey and shares her favourite green spaces and places.

Jeanne Viall’s leaves and flowers for eco=printing

I spent a slow Saturday morning in the forest at Soil for Life in Constantia, learning how to do botanical printing with leaves with Ira Bekker from UBU Botanicals, organised through Lucy Olden from Earthskills Africa.

What a wonderful morning of woodsmoke, leaf foraging and learning new skills. First we picked leaves to put in a ‘test wrap’ to see how the tannins from the leaves print onto fabric when dipped in iron water and steamed gently for an hour or two. While the testers were steaming we gathered more leaves and Ira showed us how to place them on a bigger piece of fabric, in my case an old, tired white dress that had been languishing in my cupboard.

The excitement of unwrapping our test bundles was great and we were encouraged to see leaf prints transferred onto fabric. My white dress was transformed by the tannins in oak and maple leaves and it was great to disconnect from ‘headspace’ and work with my hands to make something beautiful (to me).

Eco-print bundles ready to be unwrapped PHOTO Ira Bekker

I asked Ira to describe her eco-printing journey and her Green Route for us. Thank you for your beautiful words, Ira 💚

For more information about Ira’s workshop and UBU Botanicals please email lets.reimagine.our.world@gmail.com

Leaves release tannins during steaming. PHOTO Ira Bekker

“I was born in Johannesburg, spent five years on a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal between two and seven years old after which I moved back to Johannesburg when mining activities at the back of the mountains dried up the springs that supplied farm with water.

“I have always had a love-hate relationship with Johannesburg, yearning for more nature but it was only when I made peace with Johannesburg and what it offered that I was able to move away. Planting a vegetable garden, doing eco-printing, stepping into Shamanic spaces all made living there much more enjoyable over the last four years. 

Ira Bekker from UBU Botanicals

“I came to eco-printing after 14 years as a mosaic artist. As much as I loved mosaic I came to a place where I was very ready for something softer, more pliable and more natural to work with as a medium.

“Clay was and still is my first love but I wanted to keep that for myself as a personal practise. I discovered Pinterest just before the December Holidays in 2013 and my eye was caught amongst so many other visuals by images of eco-printed fabrics and India Flint, the woman who discovered the process.

Placing leaves for eco-printing at the workshop

“I was so drawn to it that I made it my mission to learn all that was available about it at the time, which was not much and not very clear, and use my December holidays to put it into practise. It took a couple of failed attempts for me to get results but once I saw the first prints I was completely hooked. “

“For me personally it provided me with a space of connection and co-creation with Nature at a time when I was very hungry for it. Working with the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) deepened my shamanic practise and the magic of the process brought deep joy into my life – every bundle I opened was like receiving a precious gift! Engaging with natural dyes and eco-printing also enabled me to personalise my clothing and home wear which gave me much joy after becoming very frustrated with the generic clothing available commercially. 

Jeanne Viall’s dress after eco-printing

On another level, eco-printing brings up conversations around sustainability, up-cycling, awareness around natural resources and commercialism which has always been close to my heart. At a time when so many are becoming aware that we need to move towards being self sufficient, reducing our impact on the land and moving towards self governance, eco-printing and related practices provide us with many solutions and great inspiration for doing things differently – which is why I decided to share this practise through workshops. 

Eco-printing with the elements. PHOTO Ira Bekker

“I see it as a practise rather than skill as so much more is happening here than just the mere imparting of a skill. When we do eco-printing around a fire, working WITH nature, WITH the elements there is a connection that happens, with nature but also to ourselves and to each other on a level that is different from the usual superficial connections.

“It feels like an opening, a deepening a coming into being and into rest in ourselves and the place where we find ourselves in that moment and this, as well as what comes out of the bundles at the end of the day, is what is enormously precious about this practise.

Ira explains eco-printing at the workshop

The most  important green space in my life has been the Melville Koppies in Johannesburg.

This small ridge of preserved nature two blocks away from my house was my and my boys’ life line for 13 years while we lived there. We spent much of our free time exploring this little hill’s nooks and crannies.

From here we also had a view of central Johannesburg as well as an almost 360 view of the suburbs which forms part of what is known as the biggest manmade forest in the world.

Here we saw the seasonal changes down, experienced raging veld fires, witnessed the tiny highveld flowers appear shortly after the first rains of spring. It is also where I found silence, perspective, balance and distance from the business of the city and family life. A haven for my soul. 

Even before this time as a child, our back garden in Linden, Johannesburg was a happy green space for me, especially in summer when the fruit trees offered their soft juiciness up with such abundance.

The greater area were taken up by fruit farms before the land was divided into suburbs with individual plots so we had well a established variety of peach trees, nectarines, plum, apricot and rough skin lemon.

We spent summer holidays gorging ourselves on fresh fruit and surplus fruit was made into jam which were given to friends and lasted us right through the year until the next summer’s abundance. My mother also loved nurturing the garden she planted here and there was always a compost pile in the backyard under the apricot tree’s branches where I spent much of my time as a child, growing plants from cuttings and from seed. 

There have also been two farms in my life.

Riversdale was a farm in Kwazulu-Natal where I lived for five years as a young child.

uMgeni River PHOTO Nikki Brighton, Plant Abundance

It was green and lush and filled with the fragrances of life. There were cows and pigs and chickens all with their very own distinct smells. there was the dairy where cows were still milked by hand filling the air with the sweet richness of raw milk, there was the big vegetable garden where I could pull a turnip from the ground and eat it while the fragrance of soil still clung to it. There was the fragrance of guavas from the trees behind the house and the fresh green fragrance of green mielies still on the plants and all around our small patch of farm there were mountains and valleys and forests yet to explore. 

The other farm was Magetsane, a farm in the Freestate where my Oupa and Ouma lived.

In contrast with the green mildness of Riversdale, this landscape was sparse and dry and vast and had a beauty that seeped into my soul and never let me go. It possessed a stripped down honestly and clarity that I still value over the much intricacies of other, greener landscapes.

On both these farms were great old Eucalyptus trees which stood like sentinels in rows, planted as windbreaks. For me they were majestic and safe and I loved their fragrance as much as their presence. To me they were living beings, even then.

Once I started eco-printing I started walking the streets of my suburb in Johannesburg looking for plants I could use. I gravitated to plants that contain tannins and so initially seeked out mostly rose bushes and Eucalyptus trees of which there was many.

Test bundles steaming on the fire

Visiting these trees and bushes often for leaves I started developing relationships with them and so would ask for permission before I harvested. I became aware of how a old neglected Eucalyptus on the side of a neglected green area started producing fresh new leaves again after I picked from her.

I became tuned into when a tree needs a break from harvesting and never took more than what I needed, often driving from tree to tree all over the adjacent suburbs as well to visit all my trees.

When I discovered that bottlebrush is a very strong dye plant I became aware of it’s natural cycles of blooming and holding back influenced by the temperature and rainfall.

I found Johannesburg gardens and sidewalks to be a treasure trove of variety and loved being able to connect to plants and to nature in this way, in the midst of South Africa’s commercial city. 

And then I came to Cape Town where nature is everywhere and was introduced to the beauty of the fynbos region which is totally next level.

The detail and variety of fynbos just leaves me speechless every time I venture out. The trees and mountains and forests and wildernesses and coastline contained within Cape Town I can never just take for granted and marvel every time I need to go somewhere new at the abundance of nature all around and in-between.

In terms of getting to know the plants for eco-printing I was back to square one, knowing absolutely nothing of these plants and what magic they may hold. I slowly, respectfully ventured into their realm, enjoying and treasuring each new discovery, every new acquaintance and am very clear that one can spend a lifetime with these plants and not even scratch the surface of what they have to offer. 

A neatly-wrapped bundle at UBU Botanicals eoo-printing workshop held at Soil for Life in Constantia

For more information about Ira’s workshop and UBU Botanicals please email lets.reimagine.our.world@gmail.com

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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Beaches, wild gardens and big sky in Kwelera Mouth near East London: Green Route

Chintsa Beach near the tidal pool. Photo: Janette Bennett

Writer and photographer Janette Bennett, who lives in Kwelera Mouth near East London, shares her favourite green spaces and places with us.

A buck visits Janette Bennett’s garden

My green route always starts in my own wild garden, the quiet beach and the unspoiled forests at Kwelera Mouth. It’s all been uplifted by the development of the Kwelera National Botanical Garden, South Africa’s 10th national botanical garden, the first in the Eastern Cape and the first to stretch along the sea. The garden itself is not open to the public yet, but I hear of plans to include dune forest and grassland walks, a whale viewing deck and an indigenous nursery.

The Chintsa (Cintsa) East beach is one of my favourite places to walk. From Chintsa East, veer left and make your way along the endless flat sand – there is 17km of it – past jewels like Chefane and Viskop. Make a day of it and land up at Haga Haga for lunch. Or head right for a more rocky encounter. Amble past Chintsa West (home to beautiful Buccaneers) and Khamanga Bay. Cool off in the tidal pool. Perhaps hire a horse. You’ll likely meet all kinds of interesting people on the way.

Entering a Kwelera dune forest. Photo: Janette Bennett

Tea in the Trees is entrenched on my list of local green favourites. Owner Kate has enriched the mix with regular music, Friday night food festivals featuring local creators, forest trail runs, and a deck that stretches into the forest. And it’s still one of the nicest places to gather for a Sunday brunch. 

This part of my green route comes to you … I buy locally made haloumi cheese from Pickme Farm. If you order on a Friday, your goodies are delivered to your door (in a set area) the following Thursday. I make a beeline for the smoked haloumi and haloumi patties, but the herb and regular haloumi are delicious too. And creator Kerry also offers yoghurts, ricotta and quark (it’s a German thing). 

Yarn bombing at the entrance to the Eastern Cape Craft Collection shop. Photo: Janette Bennett

Last, not least, when I venture from the East Coast into “town”, I will likely drop in at the Eastern Cape Craft Collection shop in Old Transkei Road in Nahoon. This treasure trove of carefully curated items from crafters all over the Eastern Cape is for locals and visitors alike. Among other things, you’ll find baskets, beaded items, wire work, top-end embroidery and ceramics, and maybe even a Friday bag or two.

Janette’s Friday Bags

Follow Janette’s beautiful blog Under the Milkwood

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you 10% off.

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Babylonstoren offers a succulent lunch on route to the Tiny House: Green Route

On the way to Fynbos Estate in the Paardeberg we stopped at Babylonstoren. What a way to spend the day. We had a zero-waste lunch in the Greenhouse, walked among many greenhouses and snapped many photos.

My green route always includes succulents and the succulent greenhouse was my favourite space. So many different types and inventive succulent ‘balls’ for me to try out at home.

So many succulents and the prickly pears were starting to flower in the prickly pear garden!

I do like a good jam – and the preserves at Babylonstoren are made with organic fruit from the estate, sold in reusable glass jars.

Blooms and blossom everywhere.

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

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Take the Slow Route on Route 62: Green Route

‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost is one of my favourite poems and ‘the road less travelled’ is what determined our route on a recent roadtrip through the Little Karoo.

We took the road less travelled and that made all the difference. I glanced at the huge sign on the side of the road as we left Cape Town. ‘If you speed you’re a killer’ it read. ‘I wonder whether that will slow down any speed-freaks?’, I thought, and I came to the conclusion that it depends which road you choose. 

Route 62 has its fair share of silly drivers (you know the ones: ignoring the speed limit, overtaking on blind rises and solid white lines and generally bullying everyone else on the road whenever they can) but there are a lot less of them haring along Route 62 than you’ll find on the N2. Over to Robert Frost’s poem.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thanks to the slow pace of Route 62 we were able to amble along, taking in the views and stopping at interesting coffee shops. I admit I’m a snob when it comes to coffee and I refuse to pull over at a service station for anything other than petrol. Fortunately for fussy me Route 62 has plenty of cafes and coffee shops that don’t sport Wimpy signs.

Dawnsong in Barrydale

Our first stopover was Barrydale with its hot pools just outside the town. We stayed on a farm where Nguni cattle roamed the bush and I woke up early to find them eating the scrubby grass in front of our cottage while birdsong greeted the day. 

We took a detour to Suurbraak along the beautiful pass and revisited Paradise Organic Restaurant: I discovered Paradise early last year when I stayed at Cape Nature‘s Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve in its off-grid cottages. See Going off-grid at Cape Nature’s Grootvadersbosch

Paradise on a plate

If you’re interested in finding more eco-friendly accommodation in South Africa, take a look at Eco Atlas. Eco Atlas lists eco-accommodation around SA and each listing indicates its green credentials, from solar power and composting toilets to permaculture veggie gardens and recycling. 

View of Barrydale from the Blue Cow Cafe

The next day dawned grey and cloudy so we decided it was a good day for the hot springs and soaked ourselves in the warm waters while the jacaranda trees were buffeted by the wild winds. Before the storm hit we headed for the Blue Cow Cafe, tucked away overlooking a dam in Barrydale. A great place for a hearty farm lunch and good coffee while watching weaver birds do their thing in the trees overhanging the dam.

It’s encouraging to see that even in off-the-beaten-track places plastic straws aren’t on offer. As tempting as it is to go with the flow when you’re on the road, we try to stick to the basics – using our own shopping bags, buying local and waste-free and avoiding takeaways. Why get a takeaway when you’re on holiday – surely the whole point of taking a break from the daily grind is to slow down, pause and sip your coffee slowly?

Ladismith and the restored Post House

After Barrydale we headed for Ladismith and came across the recently-opened Post House Ladismith where we sat in the shady courtyard and had coffee / chai latte and freshly-baked wheat-free banana muffins.

Owner Lesley told us how, when her husband passed away two years ago, she ‘needed something to do’. Lesley had her eye on the dilapidated old post office for years and snapped it up when it came on the market. The renovations took a year and she and her team have transformed it into a cosy cafe with tables outside and in, plus a two-roomed B&B. You can also buy eco-friendly cleaning products and locally sourced edibles here. 

Our final destination on our slow roadtrip was Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm but I’m saving that for a separate post. Taking it slow.

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Off-grid living in the Langeberg at Cape Nature’s Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve: Green Route

Have you ever watched one of those TV shows about off-grid living and wondered what it would be like? Melanie Farrell eased into off-grid living by checking into one of the eco-cabins at Cape Nature’s Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve in the Langeberg mountains.

To get to Grootvadersbosch you head north up the N2 for a couple of hours, turn left at the sign for Suurbraak and aim for the small village that sits on the banks of the Duivenhoksriver River.

I catch a glimpse of a tantalising café called Paradise in Suurbraak, then push on until the reserve. The new cottages at Bushbuckridge are a kilometre or so from the main entrance and camping area and trickle down a slope, surrounded by forest alive with birdsong.

They look a bit like treehouses with extensions on stilts – these are the braai rooms – kitted out with blinds to keep baboons out.

I know I’ll be accused of being a princess but when I go away I like to be comfortable, no plank-like couches for me.

The hardship levels of off-grid living at Grootvadersbosch are very low – cushions are squishy, and the kitchens and bathrooms are gleaming with marble countertops and all mod-cons. The kitchen I have at home is decidedly lacking in comparison.

Designers working on the conversion of the existing small 32 cottages made the most of the natural environment, creating vistas where you least expect them. One cottage has a superb shower view.

In the spirit of ‘living lightly,’ the 32 cottages that were on the site were whittled down to 11 and many of the building materials were recycled, minimising the buildings’ eco-footprints.

Although the fridge runs off Eskom, the rest of the cottage’s power needs are supplied by solar panels and a solar water geyser.

I’m here for some serious reading and relaxation but on a more active weekend you can choose between two walks, the Bushbuck (10km) and the Grysbok (15km) trails plus two bird hides.

If the bushes of Grootvadersbosch aren’t remote enough for you it’s possible to go off-off-grid in the adjacent Boosmansbos Widerness Area (you’ll need a permit.)

After two days of peace broken only by the sound of Yellow-throated warblers, it’s time to ease back into on-grid life so I stop in Suurbraak and take a seat at Paradise Organic Café where the freshly-picked organic salad I order is alive with fresh figs and pomegranate rubies.

I have plenty of time on the drive back to Cape Town on the N2 to ponder the importance of peace and quiet and time to breathe, ease down a gear or two and take life more slowly.

* Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve is part of the indigenous Afromontane forest in the South-western Cape and it is also a World Heritage Site.

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Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living.

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Karoo silence and a green oasis at Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm near De Rust: Green Route

Find peace and quiet in the Karoo at a permaculture farm near De Rust

The first time I heard about Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm near De Rust I knew I wanted to visit. Everything about it appealed to me – off grid, sustainable, eco-conscious and peaceful. Especially the peaceful part.

My green route starts with the principles of permaculture and Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm near De Rust is a perfect spot to see permaculture in action.

The owners, Kathryn Eybers and her partner, Ross, live and farm in a tranquil spot far from the madding crowd and Kathryn also gives massages and teaches yoga to supplement their sustainable lifestyle.

In 2018 I asked Kathryn to describe her Green Route (her five favourite Green Spaces and Places) for Green Route ZA and she did so with effortless grace. Explore the Karoo with Kathryn

But I had to see it for myself and so we took the slow, green route from Cape Town, via Barrydale, stopping off in the small village of De Rust before heading for the farm. Taking the slow green road on Route 62

Kathryn has a dream of seeing the whole De Rust region implementing permaculture as a way of life and producing food. Since she and Ross moved to the farm 14 years ago they have transformed it from a barren, disused farm to a highly productive space through the implementation of permaculture ethics (care of the earth, care of people and fair share).

‘Permaculture is the clever use of design principles that work with nature not against it,’ says Kathryn. If you’d like to find out more about the principles of permaculture take a look at this link

Many of the commercial farms in the area grow seeds for multinationals and the soil is bare due to the use of unsustainable farming practices.

But you won’t find any GMO or commercial seed at Numbi Farm, only heirloom seed and Kathryn uses permaculture principles for her self-sufficient fruit and vegetable garden. There’s a mobile ‘chicken’ tractor with a small flock of very happy chickens who do their bit to clean up a veggie bed once it’s been harvested.

While the chickens eat they fertilise the soil and when one area is cleared the ‘tractor’ is moved to the adjacent bed where the whole process is repeated. These are the natural, organic principles of permaculture in action.

Before we arrived at @numbi_valley we pre-ordered a basket of freshly-picked organic fruit and veg from the glorious permaculture garden. There were peaches, nectarines, leeks, rocket, spinach, kale, courgettes, squash, gem squash and others that I’ve forgotten! The squash was so tender I ate everything: skins, seeds and flesh.

You’re surrounded by silence. There are no domestic animals at the farm, apart from the chickens and this means no cats stalking birds and lizards, or dogs hunting for bigger things like field mice. As a result, birds are incredibly tame, lizards scuttle around confidently and you can watch the field mice scamper in the grass near the cottage.

Below is my little piece of paradise at @numbi_valley : Hammock, plunge pool, birdsong and plenty of books.

The hammock – very import. Photo: Melanie Farrell

The cottage is cosy and comfortable, solar-heated water is on tap and for chilly times there is a simple donkey-boiler stove in the bathroom to ensure a hot shower.

Living off-grid for three days reminds me that the load shedding (euphemistic word for power cuts) we’re enduring in South Africa could be history if we embraced solar power. Relying on fossil fuels to keep the lights on is an exercise in futility. Solar power and other forms of green energy make sense on so many levels and many countries in the rest of the world have already embraced it – even sun-challenged countries such as Britain.

While we are on the farm for three nights we don’t venture far. It’s a place to take time out. Switch off social media and relax.

We met full-time travellers Jill and Zac from Visa.Vis.Travel at the farm where they were volunteering, dividing their time between working in the permaculture garden, daubing clay onto the main house and building a new website for Numbi Valley. Check out their beautiful web work here Numbi Valley 

I was hoping to persuade them to spend more time in Cape Town so they could build a website for Green Route ZA but they had places to go and people to meet.

It was great to have recycling options in the kitchen: scraps went to the chickens and other organic matter went into the compost heap.

I didn’t join Kathryn for yoga but I did treat myself to a back massage, followed by a relaxing sound journey. And I spent a lot of time reading in the hammock or just watching the birds flit about, dipping in and out of the plunge pool to drink and cool down.

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

Use the GRZA discount code at the Hemporium SA online store checkout and get 10% off. GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA own-brand clothing, accessories and cosmetics online.

Note: GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA’s own-brand clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it does not apply to nutritional products like CBD, or to fabric or building materials.

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the A to Z of eco-conscious living

Green Route ZA promotes eco-conscious living in South Africa. We would never tell anyone how they should live, we simply make it easier for people to make better choices when it comes to sustainable living and we #PayitForwardZA

Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey in Pay it Forward – 2000

Have you heard about the #PayitForward movement? It’s based on the 2000 film starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey, Pay it Forward, where a teacher encourages his students to change the world through altruistic acts.

Green Route ZA believes in paying it forward and actively supports eco-NPOs (environmental Non-Profit Organisations) in Cape Town, including The Beach Co-op, Soil for Life, SEED and Earthchild Project.

Do we really need another hashtag? Probably not. On the other hand, listen to James Beck talking about his experience of living according to the #PayitForward idea.

“In 2011 James Beck travelled to every state in the US running a social experiment called Serf Bliss. For one year he wanted to see if he could live based on a pay-it-forward system. During this journey, James learned how simple acts of kindness can unlock humans’ potential in unexpected ways. In this riveting and charming talk, James Beck explains how picking up dog poop can change lives.”

And then there’s Botlhale Tshetlo who gave a talk at TEDx Soweto about her 38 random acts of kindness.

‘My 38 random acts of kindness

Botlhale Tshetlo, above, gave a talk at TEDx Soweto about her 38 random acts of kindness to celebrate her 38th birthday. When Botlhale turned 38, she carried out a list of 38 random acts of kindness as her way of giving back and giving thanks. Follow Botlhale on Twitter: @TlhaleD

For the past three years I’ve quietly been applying a principle of #payitforwardZA to eco-NPOs, zero-waste stores and businesses that sell eco-conscious products by promoting them, free of charge.

Eco-NPOs in Cape Town (environmental Non-Profit Organisations), including The Beach Co-opSoil for LifeSEED and Earthchild Project.

Zero-waste stores in Cape Town NUDE FOODS in the city and in Newlands, Shop Zero in Woodstock, The Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg village.

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

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Where to go for an eco-conscious experience: Green Route

Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town. Image: Roushanna Gray, Veld&Sea

FLYGSKAM* is real and one way to offset carbon criticism is to shop at eco-conscious businesses so I’ve put together an eco-conscious tour of Cape Town. You’re welcome.

The Daily Goods Store, Muizenberg Photo: Supplied

ZERO-WASTE SHOPPING You want to offset that irksome Flygskam so go zero-waste shopping at NUDE FOODS in the city centre and Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg.

UPCYCLED BAGS Or what about an eco-conscious shopping tour? I can show you shops selling locally manufactured bags made from recycled plastic at The Joinery in Woodstock or Sealand Gear, winners of the accessory category of Twyg‘s first sustainable fashion awards.

Keen to try one of the most Instagrammable vegan cafes in the world? Take a spin past Nourish’d café in Observatory for delicious food and a warm, welcoming  familia vibe.

Joy Anne Bromilow, Faithjuice, Noordhoek

There are some cute and quirky places that will take you off the beaten track, such as Faithjuice (juice in jars) at Noordhoek Farm Village or the upcycled Scone Shack near Cape Point.

The upcycled Scone Shack near Cape Point Photo: The Scone Shack

If you want to see some eco-NPOs at work I’d introduce you to SEED, Soil for Life, the Beach Co-op and the Earthchild Project and what about foraging for edibles along the seashore with Roushanna Gray from Veld&Sea?

Roushanna Gray, Veld & Sea, Scarborough

So many green spaces and places, so little time.

*FLYGSKAM – Flight Shame

Green Route ZA – the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

Use the GRZA discount code at the Hemporium SA online store checkout and get 10% off. GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA own-brand clothing, accessories and cosmetics online.

Note: GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA’s own-brand clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it does not apply to nutritional products like CBD, or to fabric or building materials.

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Shop Zero cleans up in Woodstock: Green Route

Your Zero-Waste tour of Cape Town continues at Shop Zero in Woodstock.

FORMER Grade 5 teacher Janneke Blake left the profession after her son was born and, in August 2017, she established Shop Zero at markets and on Facebook.

Shop Zero was established in August 2017, but we only started trading for the first time from that November at various Western Cape markets and by selling products via our Facebook ‘Shop’ before our website’s launch. We moved into our brick and mortar pop-up shop in Woodstock, Cape Town in February 2018 and then into our permanent shop space, just down the road from our pop-up shop in September 2018.”

What drew you to open a zero-waste shop? I was raised to consider my impact on the environment and taught from an early age that many of life’s treasures can never be replaced. We owe it to our children and future generations to understand the needs of our environment and care for it accordingly to ensure a long and beautiful existence.I learned about Kate Nelson, aka @plasticfreemermaid on Instagram in 2016 and made a concerted effort to start giving up plastics.

I got the motivation to open up my own plastic-free store after watching a Carte Blanche episode about Bea Johnson, the founder of the zero waste lifestyle movement, speaker and author of Zero Waste Home. That’s when I realised that there was a gap in the South African market for space with everything you need to reduce your footprint at one store.

It’s amazing to see how many zero waste stores have sprung up since Bea Johnson’s national tour of talks. We are all very excited about the growing movement and helping to lead the paradigm shift and change the way South Africans shop, and of course very thankful for the four women who organised the ‘Zero Waste Home’ South African tour.

Janneke Blake, Shop Zero, Woodstock

Janneke’s three tips for living a more eco-conscious life

  1. Vote with your wallet. Keep voting with your wallet. The market will always go where the cash is. Every time we purchase something, we are supporting a brand, a product and even an entire industry and that’s why it’s important to think before we buy.
  2. Eat consciously. Reducing our meat and dairy intake is a great way to reduce our impact on the planet. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world’s transport combined. It’s also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
  3. Take small steps. Every small step each of us takes is accumulative and part of the solution. We need to support each other, encourage each other and celebrate each little victory. Remember it is not a competition. Whatever you can cut out is a job well done.

Give up three for the sea: What three items would you recommend giving up for the sea?

Single-use plastic items start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfills and our oceans. It’s so wonderful to see a world ready for a change and how so many people are open to change and ready to take that leap. For that, I would recommend bringing your own coffee cup, say no to straws (or bring your own reusable one), carry a reusable water bottle and canvas totes for shopping. Sorry, I can’t only go with three. I had to go with the ‘Big-4’ plastic pollutants.

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

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Daily Goods Store is a zero-waste store in the heart of Muizenberg village: Green Route

Your Zero-Waste tour of Cape Town continues at The Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg. The Daily Goods Store is at 29 Palmer Road in Muizenberg Village.

Josh Beaver, co-owner of The Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg, opted out of a high-stress lifestyle and opened his store, with business partner Calvin Dias, in January 2019.

What drew you to open a zero-waste shop? When I left school a couple of years ago, ago I found myself working in a very conventional, high-stress industry with long hours and long commutes. I found this way of living unsatisfying and unfulfilling; I resigned and went to live in the UK for a while. I spent time working on organic farms, learning about agriculture and my environment. Later, I volunteered on a permaculture farm and worked with a medicinal herbalist. 

On my return from the UK, I wanted to start some sort of business where I didn’t depend on others for an income. I also wanted to know that whatever business I was involved with would be able to operate to my own environmental and ethical ethos. I wanted to provide people with what I was looking for personally: a mix of package-free, vegan and local things in the Southern Suburbs.

I met some awesome people already selling zero waste goods and offered to join them to help them grow their business. Later, I met Calvin Dias from The Hive in Muizenberg, who was their resident permaculture expert. He wanted to start an ethical/environmental market at The Hive and we decided to set up a zero waste shop together.  Take a meander around Muizenberg village

Josh’s three tips for living a more eco-conscious life

  1. Don’t be scared to start. It is really important to accept that you won’t be able to do everything right and fix it all from the beginning, but starting somewhere is the most important step.
  2. Follow the 5Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. It is important to have a system that you can apply to situations in your life to make more informed decisions. The 5Rs is a great one to start with because it says when I can’t refuse something then I should try to reduce the amount I use and so on. 
  3. Use money as your vote. Becoming conscious that money is your vote makes what you purchase a much more personal matter. You are no longer just another one of the millions of faceless consumers whose decisions don’t make a difference, because every choice and purchase you make has an impact. This gives you a way to vote for your values because you can find companies that operate with your values and vote for them. 

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

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SEED founder Leigh Brown traces her permaculture path in Cape Town: Green Route

Leigh Brown is the founder of SEED, an award-winning Public Benefits Organisation that contributes to city-wide resilience through programmes that connect unemployed township youth with green work opportunities. Leigh shares her Green Route (five favourite green spaces and places) in Cape Town with us.

“My green route starts at Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre, a green oasis in the middle of Mitchells Plain. Here you can enjoy a two-hour Introduction to permaculture tour and learn the basics of this optimistic design system (that holds solutions for many of the crises facing humanity).

You can also pick up your Easy Peasy seedling trays – these innovative seasonal planting trays make sure you are planting what grows optimally with a view to feeding your family.

While in Wetton, I’d pop into Forest Creations where I can source wooden products (furniture and lumber) from ethically-harvested trees. Their products are beautiful and also support local jobs.

I would trawl the Faithful-to-Nature site where you can order organic and ethical products online and all in one place. (and they deliver for free if orders are over R350).

My journey ends in my backyard. I live with my two teenage sons and we are blessed to live with established trees and we harvest rainwater, which feeds a food garden. We have planted 34 trees (mostly productive) and even have a rainwater-fed fire bath. This oasis in the city of 3.4 million keeps us sane.”

Read about SEED and its resilience programmes for youth in SA.

#GreenRouteZA  #SEED #GreenRoute #seasonal #organic #foodgarden

#PayitForwardZA

Use the GRZA discount code at the Hemporium SA online store checkout and get 10% off. GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA own-brand clothing, accessories and cosmetics online.

Note: GRZA discount applies only to Hemporium SA’s own-brand clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it does not apply to nutritional products like CBD, or to fabric or building materials.

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Zero-waste NUDE FOODS now nude in Newlands: Green Route

Your Zero-Waste tour of Cape Town starts in the city at NUDE FOODS at 5 Constitution Street, East City Precinct, Zonnebloem.

Paul Rubin opened NUDE FOODS in the East City in December 2017 and in 2020 NUDE FOODS opened its second store, in Newlands.

NUDE IN NEWLANDS: Shop 2 Paul House, Wilkinson Street, Newlands, Cape Town, 7700. OPENING HOURS:🥦 Mon – Fri: 9am – 6pm🥦 Sat: 9am – 3pm🥦 Sun: Closed

PARKING:Lots of street parking available and a 🍌whole🍌entire🍌multi🍌level🍌parking🍌lot🍌 right next door at Dean Street Arcade.

What drew you to open a zero-waste shop? My background is in business and marketing and my MBA dissertation was on “social enterprise as a sustainable business model for all businesses of the future – ie equally prioritising profit and positive social impact”. It took me a further 10 years to formulate a business idea that fitted both this model and my personal passion for health, wellness, wholefoods and clean living.

I am passionate about clean ingredients and real wholefoods as well as living chemical-free regarding the products we use on our bodies and in our homes. I was also becoming increasingly despondent that a store like NUDE FOODS didn’t exist in Cape Town or South Africa, and that an alternative option wasn’t available to shop more mindfully and plastic-free. So, with no food, retail or grocery experience, I decided to open my idea of a dream store.

Paul’s three tips for living a more eco-conscious life

  1. Go vegan as soon as possible. No other single action will have as big a positive impact on you and the planet.
  2. Simplify your life as far as possible. Only consume what you need, be mindful around waste.
  3. Carry reusables wherever you go. Water bottle, coffee cup, lunch box, reusable cutlery, dry goods bags….

NUDE FOODS

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

#PayitForwardZA

GRZA PROMO DISCOUNT WITH COSMIC BAZAAR – 10% OFF

To buy the Canna Oil CBD oil that I’m taking please (or any Cosmic Bazaar products), please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store. The GRZA code gives you 10% off your order at the checkout.

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Janette’s eco-conscious tour of Kwelera Mouth: Green Route

Writer and photographer Janette Bennett, who lives in Kwelera Mouth near East London, shares her green route with us.

‘I tend to hang out in and around my home (fairly hermitty), editing and writing, making bags and whatever, gardening and beaching.

The first stop on my green route is my garden. We share it with bushbuck, monkeys, guinea fowl, butterflies and birds. No poisons are used here; we use neem, garlic and chilli sprays for bad goggas, and we fertilise with liquid and compost from our earthworm farms. It’s mostly local indigenous, and we are known to sometimes feed ourselves out of our veggie garden.

The Blue Barn, just off the N2 at Mooiplaas, is growing in popularity as a wedding venue. I love it for its superb Sunday breakfasts and fabulous farm chic, with interesting recycling and beautiful indigenous plantings.

The beach at Kwelera Mouth Village is one of my best spots ever. I grew up on Transkei beaches and just can’t deal with lots of people on the beach. Nearby Yellow Sands, at the mouth of the Kwelera River, offers big waves, big surfing and big crowds. The Kwelera stretch reminds me of quiet, soul-feeding Wild Coast strolls.

Murambi Rose Cafe, with unpretentious decor and good lunches, offers stunning view over rolling hills to the sea. From here, I have watched fish eagles play. It’s an occasional music venue and it has the cutest chapel on the premises.

I love the atmosphere and the decor – mostly created from recycled and found objects – at Tea in the Trees near Cintsa West. It holds monthly markets, music events, yoga classes, among other things.’

#PayitForwardZA

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Canna Buzz Diaries or CBD drops in the morning: Green Route

My morning starts with a couple of drops of Cosmic Bazaar’s CBD oil and rather cleverly I thought I’d blog about it under Canna Buzz Diaries

Launch of new career – blogging about Cannabis in the morning in my CannaBuzz Diary. How’s that going for me? Apart from failing to explain what I’m taking CBD for and that when I say ‘Cannabis in the Morning’ I am referring to taking CBD drops in the morning it’s going well.

Seem to have lots of half-written posts lurking in corners then thought What Would Bridget Jones Do? (WWBJD) and did lovely Instagram post instead. (Although branding expert son says my Instagram ‘feed’ looks bad. Humpf. Think my Instagram feed jolly fine.)

Kalk Bay salon Beautiful Chaos.

Launch of #cannabisinthemorning posts stalled while I slave over paid-for work (as opposed to passion-project work) and now it’s time to slow down and breathe.

Small changes make a big difference and I’m switching to CBD products in glass packaging, supporting friends and sustainable, local small businesses.

How’s your Slow Life looking?
PS. V. V. pleased to see there’s a #dontcallmeaninfluencer out there in cyber verse.
#MeandBridgetJones

I’ve been taking Canna Oil for about two months now – I wanted to see if it helped before I started blogging about it and it’s been an interesting experience.

When I saw my dentist last week she exclaimed over my ‘amazingly healthy gums’ following dental surgery a couple of months ago. Gums aren’t sexy but when someone exclaims over them it made me think – perhaps the CBD oil is working on my gums as well as general aches and pains?

Perhaps consider possibility that fans (followers) might not appreciate ditsy Bridget Jonesey character. I mean, if you haven’t watched a Bridget Jones movie or read the third book where she’s a single mother after her lawyer husband is killed. Oops. There goes the storyline for that one.

At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger) decides it’s time to take control of her life – and start keeping a diary. So I thought it would be a good thing to do a Green Route diary.

Green Route ZA is the A to Z of eco-conscious living

Canna Oil from Cosmic Bazaar

Get 10% off all products at Cosmic Bazaar with the Green Route ZA discount code: GRZA Shop here: GRZA Discount

Cosmic Bazaar: “Our range of full spectrum Canna Oil healing elixirs. Made with 100% natural, pure, organic, whole plant cannabinoid extracts. Some quick info on the different blends we have available (please note the ratios are CBD:Δ9). All blends available in 10ml or 30ml bottles.

Sativa Δ9 (1:12) – Good for sleeping disorders and insomnia. High anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties.   For cancer use in conjunction with our 1:1 during day*  Has strong relaxation effects. Start low and slow. Use at night as this blend can make you sleepy.

Balanced (1:1) – Good for pain relief, arthritis, fibromyalgia, inflammation, tension & stress, cancer*, nausea, diabetes, IBS, Crohn’s, M.S, glaucoma , high blood pressure, menopause, asthma, etc. Can be used during day or night. Has mild relaxation effect.

CBD Rich (3:1) – Good for mental & neurological illnesses, epilepsy & seizures, depression, anxiety. Can be used by older children and animals. Use any time, day or night.

High CBD (9:1) – Good for sensitive people. Has excellent calming effects. Synergised entourage effect with Δ9 but no psychoactivity. Can be used by young children too. Use any time, day or night.

Pure & Organic CBD – Full spectrum C02 extracted Cannabis Sativa Hemp CBD. Contains no psychoactive THC.

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Take an eco-conscious tour of Cape Town: Green Route

Flygskam is real and one way to offset carbon criticism is to shop at eco-conscious businesses so I’ve put together a tour for you. You’re welcome.

ZERO-WASTE SHOPPING You want to offset that irksome Flygskam so shop at NUDE FOOD in the city centre or Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg.

The Daily Goods Store Photo: Supplied

UPCYCLED BAGS Or what about an eco-conscious shopping tour? I can show you shops selling locally manufactured bags made from recycled plastic at The Joinery in Woodstock or Sealand Gear, winners of the accessory category of Twyg‘s first sustainable fashion awards.

Looking for vegan restaurants – take a spin past Nourish’d café in Observatory for delicious food and a warm, welcoming  familia vibe.

Nourish’d Observatory

There are some cute and quirky places that will take you off the beaten track, such as Faithjuice (juice in jars) at Noordhoek Farm Village or the upcycled Scone Shack near Cape Town.

Joy Anne Bromilow, Faithjuice, Noordhoek

If youwant to see some eco-NPOs at work I’d introduce you to SEED, Soil for Life and the Beach Co-op and what about foraging for edibles along the seashore with Roushanna Gray from Veld&Sea?

Roushanna Gray, Veld & Sea

So many green spaces and places, so little time.

Get 10% off when shopping online at Cosmic Bazaar

To buy the CBD oil that I’m taking please visit Cosmic Bazaar’s online store here. The GRZA code gives you R50 off your order (that means free delivery in Cape Town).

Green Route ZA is the A-Z of eco-conscious living.

7 eco-aware South Africans share their green spaces and places: Green Route

Seven eco-activists map a route to their favourite eco-friendly spaces including eateries and nurseries. This is a story I wrote in 2017 and the start of the green route journey.

JOY PHALA’S (ORGANIC) GREEN ROUTE IN JOZI

Joy Phala is an urban gardener and founder of Organic Kitchen Gardens, a company that designs, installs and maintains herb and vegetable gardens in urban spaces. She is passionate about healthy eating and sustainable food production.

“One of my favourite health stores is Fresh Earth Food in Emmarentia. It provides a range of organic healthy foods and earth-friendly products. There’s a beautiful vegetarian buffet daily in the restaurant and the ginger-apple freshly pressed juice is a necessity when I visit.

“When it comes to environmental stewardship, nature conservation plays a key role. My family and I love to walk the grounds of Walter Sisulu and Johannesburg Botanical Gardens.

“The rose garden at Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is sensational and Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is my spot for plant material eye-candy. It has a vast range of indigenous and exotic plants and its spectacular waterfalls feed in to the Crocodile River.

“If there was ever a way to my heart, garden-to-table is definitely one of them. The Leafy Greens café in Muldersdrift is a lovely spot to escape the city buzz and enjoy some delicious garden-fresh cuisine.

The Peech Hotel in Melrose is a good example of chic sustainability. A beautifully designed space, the hotel has an onsite composting system, a vegetable and herb garden for use in their kitchen, solar energy throughout the property and water bottling on site.”

JEREMY LOOPS’S (SEA) GREEN ROUTE IN CAPE TOWN

Jeremy Loops is an award-winning folk musician, social activist and environmentalist from Cape Town. He is also co-founder of tree-planting organisation Greenpop.

Jeremy Loops (Photo: Supplied)

“My green route starts at Sealand Gear for supplies. It makes beautiful upcycled bags and accessories from used or waste material and the founders are old surfer friends.

“From there, I’d go to my favourite secret surf spot. You’d have a hard time making a stronger case for the power and majesty of nature than the ocean. If you’ve ever surfed perfect Deep South barrels, you’ll know you’ve never felt more alive than when surfing.

“My next green spot is Cape Nature’s Platbos forest. This ancient indigenous forest is Africa’s southernmost, and it has a remarkable yet incredibly fragile ecosystem. I love it so much that our tree-planting organisation, Greenpop, takes groups of volunteers there every year to plant 8,000 trees.

“Next, I’d head further up the coast to Vermaaklikheid. There you’ll find the Duiwenhoks estuary, one of South Africa’s most pristine rivers. It’s embedded deep within a difficult-to-traverse valley and so goes mostly untouched by people. Those who do come into contact with it are incredibly respectful of the space. I’m building a sustainable musical retreat there on a piece of land I bought last year along the banks. It’s a little slice of paradise.

“I’d end it all off in the backyard at our family home. My parents have spent a lot of time developing it into this welcoming, green, open space.

“My personal highlights are our generous granadilla trees, our rainwater system which feeds a greenroom full of garden salads and runner beans, the chilli plantation and the artichokes. Self-farmed food for the win!”

DELWYN PILLAY’S (GREENPEACE) GREEN ROUTE IN DURBAN

Delwyn Pillay is a Seed Freedom activist and volunteer for Greenpeace Africa in Durban.

 “My green route starts at ID: Green Camp Gallery Project in Umbilo Road, a pioneering green urban renewal project in a dilapidated old house. Xolani Hlongwa, founder of the camp, transformed the abandoned house into an art gallery, urban farming and recycling community-based project.

“Next is the Glenwood Bakery in Esther Roberts Road, a few blocks from Green Camp. It’s a throwback to an era of community-based bakeries, before industrially manufactured food became the norm. All its bread is hand-formed, slow-fermented and baked in a hearth oven.

“Another taste bud delight is Thirteen-East Coast Eatery in Florida Road. It serves Italian-influenced food using local, non-GMO and foraged ingredients, such as the sour fig.

“The Permaculture Guerilla Garden in Julia Road has edible plants available to visitors for free harvest.

“My last stop is my Mandala Food Garden at Moseley Park. The idea behind the garden is to provide a beautiful and tranquil space in which to strengthen one’s connection with nature and Mother Earth, while reaping the benefits of her harvest.”

COMRADE CARROT’S (FRESH) GREEN ROUTE IN THE CAPE

Comrade Carrot – aka Macdonald Pale – grows organic carrots, spinach and potatoes on a farm in Phillipi. He sells his produce at Komati Foods in Observatory and the Erf 81 market at Tamboerskloof’s Tyisa Nabanye urban farm.

“My green route starts at Wynberg organic farm. I’ve grown up in this soil with my family of vegetables. I fell in love with the piece of land I am on when I first saw her. I call her my ‘first love’ because together we have produced so much.

Erf 81 is an old military base just above Bokaap. It’s a naturally rejuvenating, energy-filled spot. It’s ironic that during my military career I spent so much time doing my national service at bases like this all over the country and now this abandoned base is my place of trade every Sunday morning at the organic market.

Insect Hotel at Soil for Life in Constantia. (Photo: Melanie Farrell)

Soil for Life in Constantia is a dream garden and the first time I went in I discovered it looked like my grandfather’s house. It has the kraal and garden all in one, nicely smelling of compost and hay.

“Soil for Life runs workshops in communities, training people in backyard gardening and guerilla gardening for business. I am a big believer in backyard gardening.

“I love that Komati Foods in Observatory has become a friend at a time when I have been in deep conversation with myself about food and my body. It’s been easy for me to embark on a vegan diet because the shop is supplied mainly by local producers, from Ashley’s raw golden honey to vegetable rotis from Max.

“I like going to Simon’s Town beach because the water is warm and not too deep, you can swim and picnic and it’s rarely crowded. I recommend getting there by train and I recently found that it’s not too expensive to Uber from there. So you can afford to miss the last train out of Simon’s Town and indulge in some good wine at a local restaurant.”

MELISSA DE BILLOT’S (SLOW) GREEN ROUTE IN JOBURG

During the day Melissa de Billot is an architectural technologist but after hours she’s a Slow Food volunteer. Her main role in the non-profit is as co-ordinator for its Ark of Taste project in South Africa. The project is an international online catalogue of endangered food products.

“The veggie patch in my backyard is a quiet haven from the noisy city of Johannesburg. Every morning I sit with a cup of tea amongst the mealies, pumpkins, tomatoes and herbs. When I get home from work, I leave my cellphone in the house and go and weed, dig, water and plant seeds until the sun sets.

Delta Park, a large nature conservancy above Braamfontein Spruit, has a small sensory trail garden. It’s accessible to wheelchair users and it has braille descriptions of the plants. My favourite part is the bridge over a small stream, where you can sit quietly listening to the water flow, and watch dog walkers and cyclists go past.

“Across Braamfontein Spruit is Rand Epileptic Employment Association’s vegetable garden in Craighall Park. The home’s residents run a beautiful organic veggie garden, producing food for themselves. There is a nursery and coffee shop next door where you can sit and watch the cyclists and horses go by.

“On the other side of town, towards the concrete jungle of Joburg CBD, is Bertrams Inner City Farm, an organic veggie farm that was grown on an abandoned bowling green. It supplies vegetables to local markets, creating a sustainable income for the community.

“West of Johannesburg, travelling towards Krugersdorp, is Random Harvest Nursery that specialises in endemic Highveld plants. If you are looking to grow a hardy, indigenous water-wise garden, this is the go-to place. There is a lovely outdoor tea garden set under some giant acacia trees.

TONY BUDDEN’S (HEMP) GREEN ROUTE IN CAPE TOWN

Tony Budden lives in a hemp house in Noordhoek, Cape Town, and is the co-founder of Hemporium SA.

Tony Budden, Hemporium SA, outside his hemp house in Noordhoek. IMAGE Deborah Rossouw

“I’ll start my green route at Soaring Free Superfoods Store in Westlake for all things nutritiously super like cacao, maca, chia and of course hemp seeds and oil. Their raw chocolate ganache is amazing. I am an absolute addict. If you are looking to change your diet and boost your energy, this is a great place to start.

“Living within one of the world’s floral kingdoms is awesome, but take it up a few levels with a day spent wandering around the incredible Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

“Just a few years ago it was practically impossible to find certified organic products in Cape Town, and now you can walk into Organic Zone in Lakeside and find everything you need.

Cape Point Nature Reserve has to be one of my favourite places on the planet to go and recharge and explore.

THABILE GASA’S (VOLUNTEER) GREEN ROUTE IN KZN

Thabile Gasa volunteers for different NGOs in Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal, including Mother of Peace, Amanzimtoti Community Upliftment Project and Durban Botanical Gardens Permaculture Centre.

“My green route starts at home in my permaculture organic vegetable garden and a small fruit forest. We have grapes, granadillas, litchi, avo, pomegranate and mango trees.

Mother of Peace is an NGO in Illovo that gives abandoned, abused and orphaned children a home. Gerhard van Rooyen and I decided to give back to our community so we started a food forest and raised beds using permaculture ethics and principles. We invited Toti Saints and the Amanzimtoti community to donate seeds and fruit trees to make this project a success. From the harvest the home feeds the children and sells to the community.

Amanzimtoti Upliftment Project in Lower Illovo runs several projects, including a feeding scheme that feeds the community in and around Amanzimtoti. It also acts as a rehab centre and runs courses teaching the community about their non-GMO vegetable tunnel.

“The Birches Pre-Primary School in Pinetown is a proud International Eco-school. It has a large recycling station on its car park, a herb spiral, and they make their own compost.

“My route ends with Ntombenhle Mtambo, who has a flourishing food forest in her own back yard. She is an amazing woman, leading by example in Mpophomeni community near Howick. She turns dump sites into productive gardens and almost every home has a small organic garden.”

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I wrote this story to coincide with Earth Hour in 2017.

Read the story online

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