It’s hard for us to believe that Grace, Mercy, Kondwani, and Paul have already been at the Centre for nearly two months. On the one hand, the time has flown by. On the other, the apprentices already feel like an integral part of the Kusamala family.

Luwayo Biswick, Kusamala’s Permaculture Trainer, has led the first months of training for the apprentices and he sure has kept them busy!

So far Biswick has taken the apprentices through a number of topics. They first gained a thorough understanding of the principles of permaculture – principles that guide our work here at the Centre. Among others, Biswick emphasized the multi-dimensionality of natural systems and the need to consider each element of the system as it supports and works with other elements and functions. The apprentices received both theoretical and practical trainings on the importance of observation, forward thinking and planning, and cooperation.

The apprentices showing off their solar dryers

The topics thus far have also covered natural systems, including nutrient cycles, energy flow, plant functions, and soil health, as well as time and plant stacking to maximize production and ensure year round food availability. Additional modules included nutrition, food preservation, and resource use. Biswick, our resident recycling expert, showed the apprentices how he uses items others consider trash to make woven plastic mats and bags and glass bottle furniture, among other interesting items. Through observation and practicals, they all learned the importance of using locally available resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Don’t get too close to the hive or you’ll scare away the bees!

In addition to all of the classroom time, Grace, Mercy, Kondwani, and Paul had plenty of time to get out and practice what they had learned! Among other practicals, they built two different types of solar dryers that can be used for preserving and storing fruits and vegetables to provide nutritious foods during off seasons. They also learned about beekeeping and prepared a hive. Within three days a colony of bees had claimed it as home!

The apprentices are now looking forward to their next months, where Eston Mgala, Kusamala’s Community Outreach and Education Director, will begin to take them through the design process.

The rest of us here at the Centre are a bit jealous of the through training the apprentices are receiving and are thinking about enrolling ourselves in the program the next time around!

For more information about our Apprenticeship program visit our project page.