I’m Jacqueline Edmiston, mother, activist, wife, lover, gardener, artist and I thoroughly enjoy food, music and books. I’m a Permaculture landscape artist and facilitator. 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 remember how surprised and excited I was in Sub A (Grade 1) when the potatoes that I’d stuck in the dirt grew into beautiful luscious plants, with no effort or fuss whatsoever. A miracle! I remember how in my late teens, my fascination with healing herbs and the the joy I took in growing and researching them.
I then entered the great wide world and gave and gained pieces of myself…..took a waitressing job, then a customer service job, then a job in sales, got married, bought a house, had two children, renovated a house, studied photography, built a house, had a life changing accident, worked some more as a web designer and then as an apprentice chef…….then realised it was more food activism than food preparation that interested me.
All my life, wherever I have lived, I have nurtured a vegetable and herb garden. Not that I really grew vegetables. In my 20’s I was a pretty lazy gardener….I would frequent my local nursery and buy seedlings…..stick them in the ground….if they grew, great…..if they didn’t, they didn’t deserve a place in my garden. I didn’t fuss and I liked it easy.
I’m 36 now and I have come full circle. I have found my shape and purpose in Permaculture. The one thing that I was always meant for. Permaculture has given all my life experience a framework. I can see how each path I’ve explored has given me the building blocks for the work I’m doing now and the path ahead.
I now patiently harvest and save my own seeds and enjoying swapping and sharing seeds with friends and family. When I don’t have something on hand, I’ll order it online from Seeds for Africa or Livingseeds.
I now patiently sow my seeds and experiment with various combinations for germinating my seeds in. 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 process for me.
When I’m at home in Cape Town, I’m in my garden every day. In order to maintain a productive garden for my family and I………I really need about 4 to 6 dedicated hours in my garden. This can sometimes become challenging when I’m working on a project or teaching.
My home and garden life:
I recycle all our grey-water from our showers, baths and wash basins into a Banana Circle which produces an abundance of Bananas all year round. We irrigate the rest of our garden with borehole water.
I harvest a variety of different medicinal, tea and cooking herbs from a herb spiral 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.
I have an abundant supply of eggs daily from our hens. So abundant that we are able to share with friends and neighbors.
I have a variety of established fruit and nut trees which for part of our small scale food forest and a dynamic kitchen garden placed right by my kitchen door, perfect for preparing our daily meals. I would guess that 40% of the fruit and vegetables that we consume comes 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 that we have: Ducks, Chickens, Composting Worms, Banana Circle, Rabbits
All paper and cardboard packaging stays on the property and is either used for mulch, worm bedding or ends up in the banana circle.
We mostly keep all our glass jars for storage or reuse them as drinking glasses or flower vases. We take the consideration of the glass bottle/jar in shape when purchasing food.
I avoid plastic like the plague but still haven’t figured out how to to get it completely off my store bought food. It’s a lot easier if I shop at a place like Organic Zone.
Walter Mitty: To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
“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,
“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Favourite movies right now: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Lion………..The Proposal and the new Ghostbusters (yes I know….don’t judge)
Favourite vegetable: Brussel sprouts
Favourite fruit: ripe bananas and papayas
Favourite season: Winter
Favourite food: salad & hot spicy curry
Favourite animals: Bears, bees, elephants, lions and foxes
Favorite activities: gardening, food, reading, dancing, music and driving
Favourite drinks: spring water (we collect from the Newlands spring), tea (I LOVE TEA!) and coffee (Fairtrade & Organic from Quaffee….of course)
Favourite pudding: old fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding ( :
Favourite poem: 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
I am an involved person. I know that I can make a difference to the world and lives of the people around me. I’m creative in the way that I approach difficulty. ” A mover and a shaker” as my friends would say.
I hate injustice and consider myself an activist for change.
I have two amazing children age 9 and 11, whom I’m homeschooling for the second year now, so that we have the freedom to travel and learn in ‘the classroom of real life’. Sarah and Troy also attended a full 2 week PDC on Hope Permaculture Farm in the Eastern Cape in 2016.
I completed my Introduction to Permaculture, Permaculture Design Course and Facilitators Course at organic and permaculture farm – Hope Permaculture Farm in East London. I’m a registered voting member of the Permaculture Research Institute of South Africa and currently completing an internship with Hope Farm.
Amongst all my projects I also managed to completed a Lifeline Training Course.
Daniel (my husband) and I just completed a certificate (Snake Awareness and Venomous Snake Handling) 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.
Now in June, I completed an integrated design course with Daniel Halsey, who is a professional agro-ecosystems designer, director of the Permaculture Research Institute in the USA, South 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. He took us through the design process (which I’m familiar with) and then through the more tricky part of translating that design into Adobe Illustrator.
I’m part of a group of authors and editors for the Natural Capital Plant database, a resource for Permaculture designers and other growers for scientific data pertaining to their plant selection.
021 712 9908