The Klein Karoo Sustainable Dryland Permaculture Project (KKSDPP) is based on the farm Berg-en-Dal at foot of the Swartberg Mountains in the Western Cape. The farm is a 405 hectare rehabilitated bankrupt stock farm with the Kny River running through it.
The farm is situated at the confluence of four major bio-regions, the succulent Karoo, Renosterveld, Acacia Riverine Veld and Albany Thicket. Combined with the hilly terrain this situation provides a wide range of niches and opportunities within which to apply permaculture principles. The climate is transitional mediterranean with a annual rainfall between 350 and 400mm. Most of the rain falls over winter and spring with a few big thunderstorms in mid-summer. Summer temperatures can real the 40’s and in winter it can get down to -4. This is a very challenging environment in which to settle and provides the ideal testing ground for the effectiveness of permaculture systems.
Since 1999 we have developed a permaculture settlement pattern that is niched along the valley environment on previously used land, much of it eroded and collapsed. We have since rehabilitated much of the degraded land using swales, contour ripping, gabions, grazing management and successional planting of thicket type vegetation. Within this environment we are developing a range of homestead models surrounded by cultivated ecosystems providing food and resources needed by the project, which is what permaculture is all about.
Water has been our biggest challenge and over time we have established a wide range of water harvesting earthworks from swales, berms, keylines and a dam coupled with grey water recycling, roof water catchment and hard-surface (roads) run-off catchment. The different catchment systems we have in place help create a landscape sponge that holds up run-off and infiltrates it in the ground to later feed tree based ecosystems growing in the earthworks. This strategy supplements the small amount of domestic water we are able to sustainably extract from our seasonal river.
The project is self-funded by members and the range of permaculture models we have in place form the basis for the range of workshops in sustainable living and permaculture that are held on site. The KKSDPP functions as a training environment and each homestead on the farm is a module in the overall system. This learning platform is hired out to affiliated organisations and members to run the training programs that comply with the aims and objectives of the project.