Maropeng's #MandelaDay project at Maloney's Eye
As the climate changes and resources become more scarce, the ability to grow and produce your own food is becoming an essential skill. That's why, to celebrate Mandela Day this year, we focused on the vegetable garden at Maloney's Eye Primary School.
Maropeng has a long-standing relationship with the school. Last year we helped create the garden and in 2011, we helped build a kitchen at the school – both initiatives to help ensure that pupils from this largely impoverished community have access to nutritious meals.
This year the manager of Maropeng's boutique hotel, Peter Mhanaza, who is also a product of the rural school, took the lead in the visitors' centre corporate social investment project.
"It’s always awesome for me to go back to that school," he said. "For me it’s about giving back to my community. Every time I go to Maloney's, I remember my old days."
"I thought that the garden there really needed some work, so we went as a team of about 20 people, and we cleaned it out and built a new garden. We got the children to do the planting so that they could learn how to do it themselves. We started with onions, carrots, beetroot and spinach. Then, as a special treat, we provided meals for the whole school – burgers, cupcakes and even some chocolates. You must remember, some of these children have never enjoyed such treats before," Mhanaza added.
What's important about the garden project this year, Mhanaza said, is that the team used its high-value Bokashi nutrient feed which Maropeng produces itself from food waste from the visitors' centre, restaurants and hotel. The system uses anaerobic bacteria to break down even heavier bits of food waste (such as meat, bones and fish), turning it into a potent compost.
Mhanaza says over the next few months he'd like to teach the school children about this composting system (which is also great for the environment, as it diverts waste from landfills) so that they can use that knowledge to support their own families.
"We’re planning to build a whole Bokashi system at the school so that they can take the compost and make gardens at their homes. Sometimes [they] try to [make] gardens at home, but it fails, because they don't have the right soil and compost. This will also motivate their parents to do gardening," he said.
"This project was not about us just building a garden – it’s about the children learning how to do this themselves."
This is the guiding principle that Mhanaza wants to use as he takes the lead with Maropeng's CSI projects in this community where many households battle with poverty.
"You see little children going to school, braving the cold with no socks or jerseys," he said.
"My vision is to help the children in this community to help themselves. I want to teach them that they can help themselves, and in this way help the larger community."
As a Fair Trade Tourism destination, Maropeng ensures that we uphold specific Fair Trade Tourism principles, including fair wages and working conditions, fair distribution of benefits, ethical business practice, and respect for human rights, culture and the environment.