Making a Difference at Homtini Guest Farm
Knysna - Garden Route - South Africa
On The Farm
We farm sustainably according to organic principles, this means that no pesticides or artificial fertilizers are used, so you and your family can roam anywhere safe in the knowledge that the environment is free from any potentially harmful chemicals. Through the exclusion of inorganic chemicals and proper land and forest management practices
'Homtini' has become a bird watcher's paradise. For the enthusiasts amongst you we can give you a bird sighting list for the farm on you arrival.
We are small scale producers of organic fruits, although mainly blueberries and depending upon the season we also have passion fruit, lemons and figs to name but a few. From 2017 onwards we plan to run workshops on how to grow your own organic blueberries, so keep an eye out for this if you are interested in growing your own fruit at home. Also during 2017 we will increase the organic farming to include a range of vegetable and salad leaves. All of this means that guests will be able to add 'picking their own fruit, eggs, veggies and herbs' to the list of things that are already available on the farm.
To maintain the pastures and provide manure for the fruit and vegetables we run a small herd of multicoloured 'Nguni's', the original cattle of the Xhosa, Zulu and Swazi people who brought them with them during their migration to southern Africa between 600 and 1400 AD. This means that they are ideally suited for the climate and are naturally resistant to ticks and other local diseases.
We are trying to do our bit to reduce the strain on the grid as well, so all are geysers are fully insulated and the hot water for the laundry comes from a solar powered heater. The wood you will be using for those wonderful 'braais' or to stoke the open fires on the cooler winter evenings comes from the clearing of non-indigenous invader tree species, which itself forms part of our land management and conservation policy.
The main waste is sorted from all the organic matter, the cottages are supplied with three different waste containers. All the green waste is either used to feed the chicks, goes towards making our own home-grown compost, or end up in the wormery. All the recyclable material goes to a popular nearby project where young children sort it and deliver it to a central depot in exchange for school materials.
We catch our own rainwater to feed both the main house and the guest accommodation, only in times of severe drought do we rely on municipal water to make up any shortfall.
At Homtini we actively support and manage a number of local initiatives through our 'Not- for-profit' organisation ' The Umthombo Trust'.
After Schools Club
It came to our attention that many children were struggling to make the transition from primary to secondary school, resulting in an unacceptably high drop-out rate. With little formal education young people face an uphill battle in an increasingly competitive job market.
Our after schools club is run by two respected teachers who spend five afternoons and evenings a week with a wide range of primary school learners, helping them with homework, specific topics they are struggling with as well as project work. The club which started in 2015 has seen a marked increase in overall school achievement and overall self confidence.
Local Soup Kitchen
A local group asked if we could supply vegetables for their project which helps vulnerable young and elderly with a warm meal once a day. As the requests became more frequent over time we decided that it would be better to set aside a plot of land for the group where they can grow vegetable on the farm. Now we have one full time person together with ladies from the local village responsible for growing food for the soup kitchen
Future You Project
We now work with girls in the last year of primary education where our main focus is around sanitary health. Many families cannot afford the high cost of sanitary towels and because of this girls miss up to a week per month of school time. With support from a group based in Cape Town we have developed a training for these young women, together we discuss with them what they wish for in the future and what is holding them back. Finishing high school and avoiding early pregnancy are high on their list of issues. So we not only offer them a set of re-usable pads but we also discuss issues around pregnancy and the impact that this will have on their lives. Separately we work with the boys and here we discuss issues of respect, consent and also future goals.
The local hospice has assisted with some of their HIV counsellors, who want to take the initiative to other parts of Knysna. We now hope to follow-up each group of girls during their first couple of years of High School, helping them with issues they raise and with the ultimate goal of assisting them on their individual journeys.