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 a shaker” as my friends would say. I hate injustice and consider myself an activist for what is true and just.
I have two amazing children age 9 and 11, whom I’m homeschooling for the second year now. It gives us the freedom to travel and learn in ‘the classroom of life’. Sarah and Troy attended a full 2 week PDC on Hope Permaculture Farm in the Eastern Cape at the beginning of 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.
I’m a registered voting member of Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) Southern Africa and currently completing an internship with Hope Foundation.
During this busy time, I also managed to completed a Lifeline Training Course.
Daniel (my husband) and I just 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.
Now 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, 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.
This course taught me the construction of integrated polycultures and how to translate a site design into Adobe Illustrator.
I’m part of a group of authors and editors for the Natural Capital Plant database, a scientific resource database for Permaculture designers worldwide.
My youngest memories are of growing food in a garden in the sandy soils of Muizenberg with my late grandmother Betsie at the age of 5. 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, my fascination with healing herbs and the the joy I took in collecting and researching them.
I then entered the great wide world, gave and gained pieces of myself…..took a waitress job, then a customer service job, then a job 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, fostered a special little girl, had a life changing accident (which left me with peroneal nerve mononeuropathy), worked some more as a web designer and then as an apprentice chef…….But my drive has always been around the ethical buying and eating of food.
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 nursery and buy seedlings…..stick them in the ground….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 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 me and my life experience a framework. 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 the path that lies ahead of me.
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 process for me. The part of my work that I’m most passionate about is soil building and ecological 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 to 6 dedicated hours in my garden a day. This can sometimes be a challenging when I’m working on a project or teaching.
My home and garden life:
I recycle all the 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 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.
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 Sq m, 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 preparing our daily meals. I would guess that roughly 40% of the fruit and vegetables that we consume come from our garden. If I’m not too busy with external projects this year, I hope to get it closer to 70%. We transitioned to a vegan diet this year for environmental and ethical reasons. So we spout greens for an extra nutrient boost.
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, banana circle and rabbits.
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 is either used for 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 favourite quotes:
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 (yes yes I know….don’t judge)
Favourite vegetable: brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower
Favourite fruit: ripe bananas and papayas
Favourite season: Winter
Favourite food: salad & hot spicy curry (it’s hard to find awesome vegan food around here)
Favourite animals: bears, bees, elephants, lions and foxes
Favorite activities: gardening, eating great food, reading, dancing, listening to great 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)
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
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