On the 4th of February the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network held their first meeting of 2020. Members from all over the Raymond Mhlaba District Municipality and beyond travelled to Mr and Mrs Peter’s new farm just outside of East London. We were treated to a beautiful venue on the Peters stoep over looking the fields that are soon to be planted. Not only were there a number of regular faces who joined this opening meeting for 2020, but there were also a number of new people who joined the day’s activities.
The meeting started off with a recap of the previous meetings minutes, brief reports back of activities of 2019 and important points of notice. An important point of discussion was the way forward for the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network in 2020 and beyond. There was consensus that the network should remain an entity that encourages information sharing and discussion. An important development in the network has been that it has progressed from only discussing rainwater harvesting techniques (foundation of the network when it was established) to engaging with a broad spectrum of themes, topics and opportunities (agro-ecological farming practices, non GMO seeds, seed saving, and cannabis farming amongst others). Network participants discussed the need to collect and share information between each other with regards to commercialising agro-ecology practices amongst other topics. Many of the meeting participants agreed that they would like a guide on how best to achieve commercially viable production through using agro-ecology farming practices.
An important point of interest raised by the Environmental Learning Research Centre participants was that the Amanzi for Food project, which was the foundation for the development of the Imvotho Bubomi Learnng Network, will be coming to a close at the end of 2020. Lawrence Sisitka explained that this did not mean that the IBLN needed to close, but instead that the Rhodes University members would be involved in the IBLN each in their own different ways.
Busisiwe Peter had invited representatives from Walter Sisulu University’s cannabis research project to join the IBLN meeting. Mrs Peters had been instrumental in developing a potential partnership with Walter Sisulu University around the piloting of growing cannabis commercially. The cannabis project was further explained to the rest of the IBLN network present with opportunities to get involved being briefly discussed. The introduction of cannabis farming brought yet another new dimension to the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network and opened up new channels for members of the network to explore.
The meeting ended with a wonderful meal prepared by the Peters and a tour of the agro ecology garden that Mr and Mrs Peters have been so energetically nurturing. All parties walked away from the day inspired by the discussions regarding the future of IBLN; informed about new opportunities for learning growth and information sharing; and reminded of simple yet important agro-ecological farming methods which can be easily adopted in any garden.
Thank you to the Peters for their hospitality as well as to all the IBLN members who travelled to be part of the discussions and learning. We look forward to an exciting year for the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network.