Updates from my former Izivunguvungu students achieving sailing excellence.

Matt was former managing director of the development sailing school Izivunguvungu for a decade in its heyday when it was associated with the Team shosholoza Americas cup 2007 campaign. 

Well done Gerrie and Asenathi “RCYC Team to defend Lipton Challenge Cup 2019 
This year we received two expressions of interest to represent  RCYC at Lipton Challenge Cup being sailed during August for the first time in Cape 31s.  
May was the month chosen to host the sail-off, with the event being hosted over 2 consecutive Saturdays, with 7 races to count.  (no discards – as it is in Lipton)  
Team Seascape powered by YANMAR  – skippered by Gerry Hegie/ Asenathi Jim and Team Magic skippered by Malcolm Hall/ Roger Hudson.  Both teams were incredibly focused, well prepared and bought a professional element to the sail-off ].  
Congratulations to Gerry Hegie / Asenathi Jim and the team on Seascape power by YANMAR for winning the sail-off.  
Team Seascape powered by YANMAR will be known as this years defenders for the Lipton Challenge Cup” Royal Cape Yacht Club


Howard Leoto wins the Mirror Nationals, with Asanda Conjwa taking 4th. Keep up the good work guys, excellent.

Scale up farming or diversify at Shepherds Keep?

In Farming making more is not always about being heavier, sometimes paradoxically its about being lighter.

“Its not about growing cabbages…”  was a famous quote by ALAN ROSENBERG  Biodynamic farmer. Allen was one of my favorite lecturers during my studies of Agroecology at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch.

If you grow cabbages you must sell a lot of cabbages to make a living, possibly sacrificing more natural areas in the ‘scaling up’ this type of thinking would involve. Other options for income generation include diversification. In diversification one must not exclude alternatives, perhaps rather saving natural areas? Or put in economic language; what is the opportunity cost of cultivating natural areas? Can our concept of farming nature be broadened? The following short video describes a humble, accessible and relatively fruitful attempt to diversify through agritourism (for lack of a better term):

Allen Rozenberg’s often repeated phrase was always thrown in to prompt astute students to larger sphere of operational influences than those under discussion. My personal interpretation of this lesson is the forging of links/threads/filaments of consciousness between person and nature; these links supersede the rational consciousness; tomorrows reasons are hitherto invisible. A process of becoming or aspiration I attempt to conjure in the title ‘Niche Unity’.

So spread the word, check-in to Shepherds Keep, you the consumer or aspirant can experience and support Niche Unity, Our farming activities now extend beyond our cadastral boundaries, encompass all the elements of nature and forged from all the stuff of peasant beginnings.


Is small still beautiful or must we scale up to survive?

We tried for five years but in the end found that although able to live sustainably on a small 1000 sq. metre plot of ground, we couldn’t afford any extra nice-to-haves, developmental and leisure liquidity (see my dissertation towards an M.Phil degree with the Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch.

Is our only way forward to scale up our farming operation?

So is the solution to scale up our farming operation by increasing our herd from four to 40, stuffing our chickens into batteries and poisoning our plot with fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides or must we resign ourselves to poverty?

In other words, is humankind’s presence here on earth a contradiction (to enjoy the fruits of human ingenuity we must exploit and destroy our environment) or are we confronted by a paradox (to be fully human required humans to respect or show deference to our environment). If the former then what Marx termed the metabolic rift between humankind and the non-human world will be permanent and the nature of life on earth irrevocably changed for the worse; if the latter then, as Niels Bohr observes: ‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress’.

In this context, perhaps Bohr’s use of the noun ‘progress’ reinforces the inherent paradox of our situation in that our ‘progress’ as a species has brought us to this apparent impasse. Quo vadis?

Let’s come back to our situation as a family committed to living sustainably and mention that, like us, many of our neighbours are trying to live sustainably and likewise struggling, which tells me that this question is key.

Our gut response is to create a niche that will heal the metabolic rift

This is why I (and my spouse) have embarked upon a second phase of research premised on the following gut-hypothesis: by creating niches that heal the metabolic rift humans can become fully human. It is to be noted that my sense of becoming ‘fully human’ incorporates a lifestyle that celebrates and enjoys what I listed above as nice-to-haves, for instance, being able to afford the internet and a cup of excellent coffee.

My (and our) game plan is already into its second phase aimed at finding out how best to live off the land, creatively. Keys to this plan are the following principles: respect or deference, thinking strategically and making full use of the resources available.

In the pipeline

This is the first in a series of posts that will plot our journey. Forthcoming posts will explore what I understand as a niche, and expand on the three principles that will guide my journey (respect or deference, thinking strategically, and making full use of the resources available).

We are keen to share and to learn so please feel free either to email me matt@nicheunity.com or leave a reply below. You can also follow  us on Twitter.