Forest Edge Eco-Friendly
self-sustainable food forest, chickens, worms – system
Forest Edge offers eco-friendly cottages, and is the ideal choice for eco-warriors, ecotourists or nature-lovers wanting to learn more about living green. We believe that imperfect efforts of many people will have a bigger impact than the perfect efforts of the righteous few. Every step in the right direction counts. Although still learning, we are already reaping rewards from the self-sustainable flows strengthening with each recycling loop. And we offer our guests a hassle-free stay with all the creature comforts they’d expect.
Please see the photos of the Forest Edge Food Forest, Chicken coops, wormery and donkey camp. Gardens change; different weather casts a different light, so this is meant to be representative.
Our green initiatives started out of necessity as we receive NO municipal services at Forest Edge and gradually we have embraced ‘next steps’ into our eco-friendly holiday service. These are the elements of our system at present
Rain water harvesting – Did you know that only 1% of Planet Earth’s water is fit for human consumption? At Forest Edge we catch, store, filter, treat and pump rain water since Forest Edge receives NO municipal water and we have had to learn to respect and treat this resource like gold. We often spend more on our rain water system than on our bond, especially when unaware guests waste water despite our signage and educational efforts. Still, we are proud that our guests have never had to do without water, even when the town of Sedgefield ran completely out of water in the La Nina drought in Dec 2008. We have had to implement changes (e.g. considering the kind of paint used on roofs, keeping our non-asbestos gutters squeaky clean, changing to water-efficient shower heads and minimising any water loss. We have one large reservoir, 4 large storage tanks and several smaller tanks at the cottages; plus 2 ponds and an earthen dam – the latter for irrigation and our Thilapia fish. Our water is naturally soft and lab tests have always come back with clean results.
Alien eradication – we remove alien trees where possible and process the wood for guests’ use and re-forest where funds allow.
Recycling – most of our organic waste is fed to our donkeys, chickens, worms or directly into the compost heap; remaining garbage we have to cart away ourselves; glass goes to the recycling depot.
Organic vegetable and fruit Food Forest – since 2012 we grow fruit and vegetables, loosely based on permaculture, no-dig beds, heirloom seed saving, companion planting, and vermiculture principles. We mulch, rotate our crops and make our own organic fertiliser using donkey droppings and comfrey. Earthworm “wee” makes a nutritious booster for plants. We make our own eco-friendly pesticides and encourage natural pest control by attracting pest predators into our garden. Diversity is key and we mix up our crops where possible, we compost and use green cover crops in winter, and, yes, we try to plant according to moon cycles too. Bees help us to pollinate our crops. We sometimes have surplus harvests to share with guests or to trade at the local weekly barter market.
Locavores – we try to purchase most of what we consume from producers as close to home as possible; supporting one’s own community is a common sense approach so few modern consumers follow; we believe one should think globally but act locally
Composting – the manure from our donkeys and chickens are used in several compost heaps. Composting saves money and mimics a natural process: it adds nutrients to the soil, helps aerate clay soils, helps with correct water retention for better conditioned soil, grows stronger, pest-resistant plants and reduces the need to fertilise. It is also a simple, fun way to get your children attuned to recycling as they can see and use the results themselves.
Vermiculture – our worm farm breaks down some organic waste and produces ‘vermicompost’ and ‘worm tea’ to fertilise the gardens. Our earth worms mix soil better than any amount of digging and they help to break down heavy soils. They help bring deep micronutrients back to the topsoil and they produce hormones and enzymes to help increase plants’ immunity to disease. Our red wriggler earthworms require special care as they enjoy a dark, cool, quiet home and should be watered and fed suitable kitchen scraps regularly. We do not feed our worms citrus, onions, garlic, pine-apple, meat, dairy or strong spices. Whenever we plant anything, we add comfrey leaves to the bottom of the hole or bed, and add a handful of earthworms to bless our efforts : – )
Bees – We enjoy loads of foraging wild bees at Forest Edge due to our lovely indigenous gardens. The bees feed off our gardens, and pollinate our food forest in return. Bees are critical to a large portion of human food production and are under threat as a result of GMO, pesticides and lack of education. Since 2014 an outbreak of American Foul Brood disease in the Western Cape has caused havoc and destroyed up to 90% of colonies in some food producing areas. At Forest Edge we plant bee-friendly trees and shrubs and do not use anything harmful on our property. Healthy bees now, may well be the key to survival for mankind in future…
Pet Donkeys – Our famous and well-loved donkeys, Hansel and Gretel, eat grass and organic scraps and provide wonderful manure in turn. They do require loads of special care though! We supplement their feed with lucerne and cube-feed, we have to administer horse-sickness shots and the farrier has to visit regularly to do their “pedicure”. They have to be brushed regularly to guard against ticks and to help keep them tame and clean. We have to protect them from fly infestations and provide an area shielded from rain and wind. They were rescued from someone overworking them for carting, so we do not allow them to be ridden or used for pulling anything. We used to allow them free range of the entire property but it became impossible to try and settle a beautiful garden so they now live in the western camp where there is shelter and water and they are seldom alone. Guests like to feed them carrots and apples and the kids enjoy brushing them to. Parents, supervision around large animals is always recommended: teach your children to never stand behind a horse or donkey or to hit, make sudden movements or threaten them with sticks etc.
Conservation – we do not feed or kill wild animals and let them go about their business; we remove any snakes we find and release them deep in the forest (we preventatively treat cottages so have never found a snake there)
Sewerage treatment – the waste from the cottages is treated in a biological septic tank and a series of soak-away systems
Grey water use – the bath/laundry water of reception and some cottages is treated by filtering plants before being used in the garden
*** IMPORTANT: Forest Edge is a nature-lovers’ retreat offering tranquility on the edge of the forest. We support eco-tourism efforts and we try and live in tune with nature as much as possible: we avoid anything that can negatively impact on the environment, which also means we will discourage loud parties and any destructiveness. Although these eco-corner areas are open to all guests, parents remain responsible for their children around the ponds, dams, livestock etc