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Nirmala Nair, a seed expert who had been a guest speaker at SAFCEI’s inaugural event in 2005, was the guest speaker for our Seed Swap event at Ocean View Organic Farms on Friday 2 December 2022. 

The Spontaneous Seed Swap event was organised as part of Green Action Week 2022. We specifically invited faith leaders who have shown interest in or have already created their own food gardens.

Nirmala told us about how some plants love to be together in the garden, and about how each garden is a micro climate so the same seed planted in my garden would produce food that looks different to the produce of the seed planted in another garden.

She suggested we get to know our own garden and what it needs.

We learned how to save seeds using ash, then wrapping the seeds in newspaper. It is important to label the seeds so your recognise what you have.

Nirmala also spoke about nature not growing in straight rows. She said that in her garden, things grow in amongst each other, and the chaos depicts the beauty of Nature’s diversity.

Afterward Nirmala’s introduction, Berry introduced the seed swap process. We noted the seeds everyone had brought, and then Berry handed out the seeds that SAFCEI gifted to the group.

Each person had an envelope with their name on it, and three columns – Seeds I brought with me, Seeds SAFCEI gifted me, and Seeds I am taking home.



Berry explained that we all have seeds now and some packets contain 5 seeds while others contain 500. The seeds are all different. Zainab wants coriander but does not have it, but she has carrot and beans which she is prepared to swap. Her task was to find the person with coriander and negotiate a trade.

We spent a wonderful hour or more exchanging seeds and taking note of what we had.

Mamu Gobeni had brought celery and parsley plants with the roots which she brought from her own garden to share with the group. Mamu is a Cape Town FLEAT member and her garden has flourished amazingly since her FLEAT experience. The photo below is not Mamu’s produce, but rather some of the day’s harvest at Ocean View Farm. Many of the faith leaders purchased fresh vegetables which they carried home by the armful.


When we had exhausted our swapping, Nirmala explained about the care of seeds, how to feed them, how to nourish and care for the soil in an organic way, and how to make your own compost.

After this discussion we went for a tour of Karin Parkin’s food forest where she told us more about seed saving, companion planting and medicinal plants. Many of us were inspired to purchase some of Karin’s plants, and others remarked on how much they had in their garden that they never knew had a use other than as an attractive plant. Nicky then led a tour of the rest of the farm and shared some of the history of Ocean View Farms. Nicky is one of the original 5 farmers. She showed us some of the trees that have done well since SAFCEI planted them at Ocean View Farms on our Prayer and Planting day for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2021.

The Hoenderhoek kitchen finally served us delicious veggie burgers with chips and fresh salad. During lunch Berry handed out R200 Stodels gift vouchers to each participant, and invited them to use it for either organic compost to enrich their soil or perhaps gardening gloves, small tools or anything else that is needed to help make their gardening lives easier.

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