In October, AfrikaBurn received the first tranche of a R915,000 grant from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) towards environmental and farming infrastructure. This invaluable NLC funding provides us with the first green shoots of our environmental restoration plans for Quaggafontein as it will contribute significantly to our circular waste economy set up, our habitat restoration and permaculture programmes in the Tankwa Karoo.
This page specifically documents the progress of the NLC funded developments.
30 March 2021
It is no secret that AfrikaBurn is more than just an arts event in the desert, it is so much more than that. We have highly idealistic and incredibly long-term goals when it comes to implementing projects on Quaggafontein for the betterment of the planet and the community, as well as towards earth jurisprudence.
With this funding, we now have a springboard to accelerate us towards our first step: implementation of our circular economy. And for us to successfully achieve this goal, we also need to start where we are, and we are pushing “Go!”
Our starting points are with key infrastructure developments. We are now able to buy the start-up phase of our solar system, which will mean that we won’t be reliant on bringing up and burning fossil fuels to keep operations going at Quaggafontein. Both the environment as well as our fuel budget is grateful for this!
In addition to this, we can also mobilise irrigation – this involves installing a pump at the borehole for strong and drinkable water flow, which is always necessary in the desert; our mobile unit has a two-fold purpose, it enables us to irrigate the land and will also assist with our humanure processing in the long term. Historically, the humanure processing would have cost a lot, as well as being very process intensive, and therefore would not have achieved neutral (or negative) carbon offset, which is one of our longer term goals. To even be able to make our own humanure on site is life-changing, because once the food garden is established, we will be able to fertilise the food garden with our own manure.
The use of non-waterborne sewage is a huge priority and it is with special thanks to the epic volunteers from our Architecture Committee, that the eco ablution building process can now begin.
All of this is angling us towards the first Eco Trip on Easter Weekend…for which there will be a report back shortly.
7 April 2021
We’ve literally been provided the tools to build our permaculture project from the ground up. Picks, spades, shovels and garden gloves all purchased with the NLC grant along with second hand tunnels and irrigation infrastructure underpinned the success of the groundbreaking Eco Trip on 1-5 April, our first public gathering on Quaggafontein.
Locally sourced trees, endemic plants, seeds, mulch and manure were also purchased and planted during Eco Trip, when a bunch of volunteers and AfrikaBurn crew set foot on the farmstead to do the spadework of setting up new projects in the Tankwa.
17 May 2021
The eco loos and showers are beginning to take shape at the Quaggafontein farmstead. AfrikaBurn doesn’t throw sh*t away, so once composted as humanure, your poo will become a seed bomb, and form part of the cycle of habitat restoration. Along with a wealth of clued up volunteers, AfrikaBurn is also figuring out how greywater systems and humanure processing is going to roll on a larger scale too. When moving from Stonehenge, our intrepid Department of Public Works crew went beyond the call (of nature and) duty in decommissioning the previous poo pond, and in doing so learnt a sh*t load for our circular economy implementation.
(photos Stephan Boshoff)
7 June 2021
With an abundance of sunshine in the Tankwa, it’s a no-brainer that solar is the way to go with cleaner energy. But before the new solar rig travels upto Quaggafontein to be installed at the farmstead, the volunteer power team tested all the kit to make sure it’s all working and thankfully, it got the green light!
(photos Kristy Derbyshire)
9 July 2021
We are piloting some water harvesting and erosion control techniques at Quaggafontein. The idea is to slow the rainwater runoff and allow the water to soak into the soil, allowing organic matter and seeds to collect and provide a microclimate for new growth to establish.
It is an attempt to compensate for the job that would ordinarily be done by a greater abundance of shrubs and grasses that we are lacking as a result of decades of unfavourable livestock grazing practices. Thriving vegetation helps keep rainwater in place where it falls, slowing down the rainfall and enabling the water to sink into the ground more easily. Intact ecosystems have a far greater carbon sequestration potential and can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change by converting atmospheric CO2 into organic matter that builds soil.
Photos thanks to Stefan Juhnke.
21 September 2021
Our “solar system” began to take shape when it was delivered to site and installed at the barn in late August, with huge thanks to a local Tankwa team who assisted with the installation. Coming out of the third wave, the AfrikaBurn crew tested the solar power rig during our newest programme Resilience in Shared Endeavour (RISE), which took place on Quaggafontein 17-21 September. We are very excited and pleased to announce that the sun managed to run the 5 day programme, meaning we didn’t need to use fossil fuels for our electrical needs.
During RISE, some progress was also made in the food garden with the participants getting to grips with some hand tools and digging some new beds.
We harvested some of the spinach for dinner too.
Some recycling stations were set up during the programme with a daily volunteer shift to keep on top of the recyclables on site, all part of our circular economy development at the Farmstead.
Photos thanks to (in order): Kristy Derbyshire, Sally Berg, Angela MacPherson & Angela MacPherson.
8 October 2021
The second edition of EcoTrip 30 September – 4 October, saw a group of eager participants get involved in the continuation of our permaculture and habitat restoration activities.
Locally sourced Tankwa succulents were planted into the veld and in front of the cottage to start to re-establish groundcover, hold and build soil, and re-enrich the diversity of the vegetation at Quaggafontein.
An array of semi circular bunds or pondings were dug with the goal of rehabilitating the veld. The halfmoon shaped holes catch rainwater runoff, thereby halting erosion and creating ideal spaces for organic matter and seeds to collect so that new plant growth can establish and spread.
Over in the food garden the trench bed started at the RISE event was extended. It was filled with layers of straw, cow manure, cardboard waste and organic waste from the kitchen. As these layers break down they create a nutrient rich soil for future growing. A composting station was also built by upcycling old pallets. Utilising such “waste” products as inputs into new processes is part of putting our circular economy ideals into action.
A big thanks to all who came to participate!
Photos thanks to: Stefan Juhnke and Alastair Berg
20 May 2022
After a fierce summer in the Tankwa, and the arrival of the first AfrikaBurn DPW teams in March, the final piece of the eco jigsaw puzzle for this cycle of activity at Quaggafontein was the installation of the tank for humanuring. In 2020 AfrikaBurn decommissioned the old tank at Stonehenge Farm as part of the move to Quaggafontein. A new tank was purchased and installed in April 2022 ahead of the first post-pandemic AfrikaBurn event.
The moveable AfrikaBurn toilets, made especially for our event, are designed to be able to make good use of the human waste of over 6000 people they collected over the event period. The toilets contain enzymes to accelerate the breakdown into usable organic matter.
Once the effluent has been in anaerobic conditions for at least a month to break down in the tank, an aerobic process of “humanuring” begins where the effluent is sprayed over woodchip and tilled until the perfect level of saturation is achieved. The nitrogen rich humanure is used in our habitat regeneration projects.
Photos: Melanie Brummer and Rochelle McWilliams
AfrikaBurn thanks the National Lotteries Commission for funding to kick-start the long term circular economy development at Quaggafontein.