I’m Jacqueline Edmiston, mother, activist, wife, lover, gardener, artist. I thoroughly enjoy food, music and books. I’m a Permaculture landscape artist and facilitator and I practice eco-restorative design. Permaculture gives me the tools to proactively address our escalating environmental crisis. It’s my expression of awareness and reverence for the sacredness of all life.
I am an involved person. I know that I can make a difference to the world and to the lives of people around me. I’m creative in the way that I approach difficulty. “A mover and shaker” as my friends would say. I hate injustice and consider myself an activist for what is true and just.
I live in Bergvliet, Cape Town, South Africa with my husband Daniel (to whom I’ve been married to for 15 years) and two children, Sarah (12) and Troy (10). We are in our third year of homeschooling. It gives us the freedom to travel and learn in ‘the classroom of life’……….plus my work takes me everywhere. Sarah and Troy attended a full 2 week PDC in the Eastern Cape at the beginning of 2016. We are relocating to Geneva, USA in October.
2018: Due to the nature of my work which takes me to remote areas like Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Uganda, it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of first aid. I have just redone my Level 1 First Aid with St John Ambulance and went on to completing my advanced First Aid Level 3.
In May this year I attended the International East African Convergence in Sanje, Uganda where I met incredible people from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Rwanda, Australia and Belgium. I’m now part of a team made up of various African countries, charged to form an African network of Permaculture practitioners and projects. We are calling this network the African Permaculture Association (working title. We meet online every second wee.
2017: Daniel (my husband) and I completed a Snake Awareness and Venomous Snake Handling Certificate Course with the African Snakebite Institute (ASI), taught by Johan Marais, an internationally known herpetologist and author of Snakes and Reptiles in Southern Africa. It covered Snake, Scorpion and Spider Awareness and their biology, behavior, myths and their identifications. As well as basic first aid for snakebite and scorpion stings. We were taught how to safely handle snakes when capturing them for relocation.
In June, I completed an integrated design course with Daniel Halsey from the USA, who is a professional agro-ecosystems designer, director of the Permaculture Research Institute in the USA, Southern Africa, and Italy. Dan is the principal partner of Natural Capital, LLC, Plant Database, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Temperate Climate Polyculture Designs and a Masters of Professional Studies in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota.
This course taught me the in-depth design of integrated polycultures and how to translate a site design into Adobe Illustrator.
2016: I completed my Introduction to Permaculture, Permaculture Design Course and Permaculture Facilitators Course at Organic and Permaculture Farm – Hope Permaculture Farm (now Hope Foundation operating on Santa Paloma Guest Farm) in East London at the beginning of 2016.
During this busy time, I also managed to completed a Lifeline Training Course.
My story: My youngest memories growing up are of me (age 5) growing food with my grandmother Betsie in her sandy garden in Muizenberg. I remember how surprised and excited I was in Sub A (Grade 1) when the potatoes that I’d stuck in the ground grew into beautiful luscious plants, with little effort or fuss. A miracle! I remember how in my late teens living is Scarborough, how I fed my thirst for knowledge by reading among other, Margeret Roberts books on the healing properties of various herbs and their various growing characteristics and requirements……..and the joy I took in collecting as many as I could.
Later I entered the great wide world and gave and gained pieces of myself through the years…..waitresses, washed windows, practiced Chinese medicine, worked in customer service, worked in sales, got married, bought a house, gave birth to my daughter, opened a pottery studio, renovated a house, gave birth to my son, studied photography, built a house in Riebeek Kasteel, fostered a special little girl, had a life changing accident (which left me with peroneal nerve mononeuropathy in my right leg), worked some more as a web designer and then as an apprentice chef…….and then I realized that my drive has always been around the ethical buying and eating of food and how our choices impact the environment I love the community aspect and tradition around food and the way that it brings people together.
All my life, wherever I’ve called home, I’ve nurtured and tended a vegetable and herb garden.
Not that I really “grew” vegetables………in my 20’s I was a pretty lazy gardener. I’d pop into my local plant nursery and buy seedlings…..stick them in the ground and hope for the best….if they grew, great! …..if they didn’t, well they didn’t deserve a place in my garden ‘shrug’. I didn’t fuss and I liked it easy.
I’m 37 now and I have come full circle. I have found my shape and framework in Permaculture. I can see how each path that I’ve explored has given me the foundation and building blocks for the work I’m now doing and has provided me with the insight and depth for the path that lies ahead.
I now patiently harvest and save my own seeds and enjoy swapping and sharing with friends and family. When I don’t have something on hand, I’ll order it online from Seeds for Africa or Livingseeds. It’s a great exercise in surrendering. Once I’ve done all I can, I let go and let be. Of all the facets of my work, this one is the hardest for me.
The parts of my work that I’m most passionate about is soil rehabilitation, working with small subsistence farmers and ecosystem restoration.
When I’m at home in Cape Town, I’m in my garden every day. In order to maintain a productive food garden for my family and I………I really need about 4 dedicated hours per day in my garden. This can sometimes be a challenging when I’m traveling, working on a project or teaching.
My home and garden life: I recycle all the grey-water from our showers, baths and washbasins into a Banana Circle which produces an abundance of Bananas all year round. We irrigate the rest of our garden with borehole water. We also harvest rainwater in two large tanks.
I harvest a variety of different medicinal and culinary herbs from our herb spiral which is well placed, just outside my kitchen door. Just on that note, no home should ever be without an abundant supply of parsley and lemons…….be sure to have a happy lemon tree close to your kitchen door. A bay tree close to the kitchen is also highly gratifying ( :
I have an abundant supply of eggs daily from our hens. So abundant, that we are able to feed our staff and share with friends and neighbors.
We live in Bergvliet on 1200 Sqm, where we have a variety of established fruit and nut trees which form part of our small scale food forest and a dynamic kitchen garden placed right by my kitchen door, perfect for harvesting for our daily meals. I would guess that roughly 40% of the fruit and vegetables that we consume daily come from our garden. If I’m not too busy with external projects this year, I hope to get it closer to 70%.
We try our best not to create any waste. In terms of food, this would mean that leftovers get placed in various buckets for feeding ducks, chickens, composting worms, rabbits and then finally off to the the banana circle.
All paper and cardboard packaging, organic matter, fabric (we only use natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, bamboo and wool) stays on the property and it’s either used as mulch, compost and worm bedding or ends up in the banana circle.
I avoid plastic like the plague, but still haven’t figured out how to to get it completely off my store bought foods. It’s a lot easier if I shop at a place like Organic Zone, where I can buy unwrapped fruits and vegetables and where nuts and seeds are packaged in compostable bags. We first try to purchase food that’s packaging-free……if unavoidable, we strive for packaging that we can either compost or reuse….such as glass jars. We keep our glass jars and reuse them for food storage or as drinking glasses or flower vases.
My favorite quotes:
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” – Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest
Favorite movies right now:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Lion………..The Proposal (yes yes I know….don’t judge)
brussel sprouts and cabbage (kraut and kimchi….yummm)
overripe bananas, papaya, oranges, mangoes and pineapples
salad & hot spicy curry
bears, bees, elephants, lions and foxes
gardening, eating good food, reading, dancing, listening to great music and driving
spring water (we collect from the Newlands spring), tea (I LOVE TEA!) and coffee (Fairtrade & Organic from Quaffee….of course) and hot cocoa.
When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
– Maya Angelou
+27 21 712 9908
Permaculture in Cape Town, South Africa