History of SEED


Seeding Futures rollout impacts greater number of individuals and has monitoring and evaluation systems to track impact. The importance of localising food systems is recognised as Covid-19 lockdowns plunge many households into hunger and our food garden begins to support local feeding schemes.


  • Seeding Futures Phase II graduates 300 Cape Flats youth in a stipended program that includes neighbourhood and household resilience that work with Mitchells Plain locals
  • Program delivered in five modules and includes job shadowing
  • Partnership for stipends with Western Cape Government's Department of Environment and Development Planning (DEDP) and the Environmental Protection & Infrastructure Programmes (EPIP)
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning system shows that changes to internal landscape of students translates into 89% practice long-term resilience practice, 60% employment, eight enterprises per 100 graduates
  • Urban Regeneration Module is piloted
  • 60 Facilitators capacitated through Training of Trainers
  • Seven alumni facilitators mentored

Household Resilience Retrofits

  • Climate resilience systems designed and implemented in 16 homes and streets and then stopped by Covid-19 lockdown regulations 
  • WhatsApp distance learning is piloted and 49 individuals graduate
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning proves SEED's Theory of Change which focusses on change at an individual level

Easy Peasy Social Enterprise (EP)

  • EP sets up the Neighbourhood nodes for sales.
  • EP sign stake agreement with Stodels and makes R447 000 sales, employs 11 individuals and sells 110 028 seedlings


  • Food garden and kitchen respond to Covid-19 food crises and start supporting three local 
  • feeding schemes, that support 677 individuals with 876 kg vegetables and 2357 naan breads
  • Aligning of production schedules of nursery, garden and kitchen
  • Easy Peasy Enterprise thrives over lockdown as food gardening becomes important
  • Kitchen grows into a café that services community members and tour groups


  • SEED grows a transition board that positions the long-term governance board that will hold SEEDs vision into the future. Finally we have a strong, capacitated and committed board.
  • Leigh Brown delivery talk and teaches Permaculture for Schools Course with Robina McCurdy at
  • Permaculture International Conference, Hyderabad India.
  • Received Accreditation with AgriSETA


Miraculously an incredible Transition Board comes together and SEED begins the slow tasks of revisioning our vision, streamlining our offering and beginning to strengthen governance and the invisible structures that make organisations strong. We also run one longer modularised pilot of Seeding Futures that yields amazing testimonials from students.

  • Seeding Futures training formalised and facilitated in Seeding Futures modules including the job shadows 
  • Green Economy database grows businesses for job shadows and employment
  • Incredible Partnership with Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP) for stipends for youth attending our course

Rocklands Abundance Centre

  • Build Indoor Classroom using recycled building materials


  • SEED is hugely grateful to Glen Tyler, a previous SEED employee, who helped to gather the group that included Lisa van Dongen and Justin Maxwell. Slowly and carefully, we started to build SEED back strong. 
  • SEED emerges from this process with a wonderful clarity of focus and a deep commitment to build carefully and with integrity. 
  • We find support for our new vision for funders that step on board for three years, bringing much-needed stability to the organisation.


SEED endures a time of organisational volatility which required a strategic decision to scale back in order to develop a new organisational strategic direction. It learns a hard lesson in enterprise development and management due to staffing challenges to its Mushroom Enterprise. SEED remains committed to innovation and experimentation to find successful enterprise modesl for replication. Mitchells Plain Food Freedom initiative supports 223 home gardens providing valuable lessons in the benefits and complexity of community gardening.

Rocklands Abundance Centre

  • Mushroom Enterprise employs six locals and sells to Food Lovers and Organic Zone. We increase our water resilience through local implementation of a 90000 lite Rain Tank Bank  
  • Exotic Mushroom Enterprise secures an an offtake agreeement with a major retailer. We learn a valuable lesson in talent management, subsequently we were unable to meet the demands of the offtake agreement. Mushroom Enterprise shuts shop due to unsustainability of the business case.
  • Unfortunately, ten local jobs are lost.

Mitchells Plain Food Freedom 

  • Sustainable Homes Six-Day Training graduates 35 individuals over three years 
  • Set up Food Freedom Committee and created a Manifesto 
  • Home Gardening One-Day workshops graduates 284 individuals
  • 223 home garden implementations supported
  • Nine Neighbourhood Nodes developed for replication
  • Climate Resilience workshops for 100 homes


  • Board crashes: Chairperson resigns and it becomes clear that SEED Board needs to grow vigour and governance


SEED focus shifts to Rocklands Primary where we respond to requests from Mitchells Plain locals for home food gardens. The Enterprises at Rocklands are catalysed through The Outdoor Classroom and the entrepreneurial education.


  • Published: Learning Adventures in the Outdoor Classroom for Intermediate Phase (CAPS).
  • Learning Adventures facilitated for 20 visiting schools
  • Rocklands after school program grows a base of eco-literacy
  • Rocklands Holiday Program facilitated six weeks per year


  • Piloted four-week APT and five-month internship at Rocklands 
  • Research partnership with UCT Knowledge Coop 

Rocklands Abundance Centre

  • Build Mushroom Unit 
  • Mushroom Project employs six locals and sells to Food Lovers, Organic Zone, restaurants and locally
  • Build model RDP house with tyres and waste material

Mitchells Plain Food Freedom

  • Introduction Day six-day Sustainable Homes workshop graduates 29 individuals
  • 11 Start-up Household Retrofits (compost system, food garden, medicinal garden, grey water, hot box) 
  • Two local ambassador Household Retrofits (rain tanks, solar geyser, solar cooker, trellis system) 
  • Rocklands awarded Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award
  • Leigh Brown nominated for Ashoka Fellow by three people
  • Leigh Brown delivery talk at Permaculture International Conference, Havana Cuba

World Design Capital

  • Facilitated design workshop for two communities.


The Outdoor Classroom Program goes national as we pilot the Accredited Youth Program Training, and find it is effective in growing capacity in our community facilitators.


  • 40 Five Day Training graduates 584 teachers nationally 
  • Outdoor Classroom three-year program with 34 schools in six nodes (Cape Flats, Karoo, Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal) reaching over 11 000 learners 
  • Published: Great Abundance Natural Wealth and Designing for Abundance textbooks (OBE) 
  • Launched Seedling Garden Club as afterschool for national schools
  • Developed school poster series in partnership with Afristar 
  • Research partnership with Stanford University 
  • Volunteer partnership with SAGENet
  • Partnership with Earthchild - training and teacher retreats
  • The Organic Classroom Foundation Phase Resource translated into Portuguese 
  • Green Business Phase of Outdoor Classroom Program develops enterprises for schools
  • Community Market Day - Mitchells Plain
  • Mushroom and seed bank set up and run as enterprises


  • Received Provisional Accreditation with ETDP SETA
  • Three pilots of Accredited Permaculture Training, graduating 73 individuals 
  • Research partnership with UCT Knowledge Coop: APT graduates show promising uptake into 
  • green jobs (case study 14 graduates)

Rocklands Abundance Centre
Design process for Rockland, including: Holistic Goal Formation, Permaculture Design and Building Design
Rocklands quarterly community market
Leigh Brown awarded Real Simple Green Inspiration Award
Outdoor Classroom Program awarded Imphumelelo Silver Award 


Preparing for the Outdoor Classroom Program national rollout


  • Five Day Training in Free State and Limpopo graduating 72 teachers
  • Wrap up Sustainable Schools Program and strategised The Outdoor Classroom Program
  • Outdoor Classroom pilot with nine Cape Flats schools and one school in Mamelodi
  • National distribution of Implementing a Living Laboratory distributed nationally through Old Mutual Out the Box program 
  • SEED is invited to move to Rocklands Primary in Mitchells Plain as the school was sitting with empty classrooms


  • Pilot Applied Permacuture Training (APT) four-week training with 18 individuals


One SEED starts a forest

SEED registers as a non-profit and public benefits organisation and continues to deliver the Sustainable Schools Program, and begins to write the Accredited Youth Program.


  • First two schools graduate Sustainable Schools Program and win Eduplant Awards
  • Sustainability Index formalised
  • Teacher development workshops for broad base of teachers
  • Mentoring, capacity development and training of six local facilitators 
  • Rocklands Primary wins Eduplant competition
  • Established SEED nursery for Permaculture plants
  • Bauwagen Aachen Project


  • Developed accredited permaculture training based on three unit standards
  • Assessor training for four facilitators 


  • SEED registered as independent NPO with section A tax exemption status 
  • First independent audit 
  • SEED board set up to hold strategy and fiduciary responsibility


Sustainable Schools Program

We formalised the process of our work at schools into the Sustainable Schools Program, which partnered schools for three years and which culminated in a textbook, Implementing the Living Laboratory, that focussed on natural science in the Intermediate Phase (Grade 4-7).

  • Five Day Trainings formalised as the first step to the longer-term relationship
  • Four Five Day Trainings at Mamelodi graduating 104 teachers 
  • Five Day training with Cape Teaching Institute: Intermediate Phase 
  • Sustainable Schools three-year program at 12 schools
  • Launch Sustainable Science Program 
  • Published: The Implementing a Living Laboratory Intermediate Phase textbook
  • Launch of Masake Support workshops for broad base teachers 
  • Teacher development workshops
  • The SEED Academy short courses for schools
  • Growth of SETA (Schools Environmental Teachers Association)
  • Administered Aachen Greening Award
  • Mentoring four local facilitators 


Cape Flats Primary Schools

These years were spent growing a committed base of teacher and schools in the Cape Flats and the response to the request for the Five Day Training at a national level.

  • 104 teachers graduated through Five Day Training 
  • National Pilot Five Day Training graduating 28 teachers in Mamelodi
  • Facilitation of the Sustainable Schools program at 10 Cape Flats Schools
  • Sustainability Index developed and trialled
  • Published: The Organic Classroom Foundation Phase textbook
  • Launched Sustainable Science Materials Development workshops 
  • Launch of Masake Support workshops for broad base teachers
  • Development of teachers forum for environmental education (TAEEE) 
  • Bauwagen Aachen Project sent two community facilitators to Germany 
  • Ecoschool partnership with seven Gugulethu schools 
  • Partnered the Shuttleworth Foundations Innovation Bazaar
  • SEED offices move to the Philippi Business Place


One small SEED

Leigh Brown came back to South Africa, after studying on a farm set up by the co-founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison, in Australia and picked up a sleeping pilot project. 

SEED is set up as an autonomous project of Abalimi Bezekhaya and operates from the headquarters in Leigh Brown’s garage.

What emerges is the urgent need for capacity development for teachers as they start to grapple with the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) system.

  • Developed Five Day Permaculture Training for Teachers with Fulvio Grandin
  • Piloted Five Day Permaculture Training for Teachers with 16 Cape Flats teachers
  • Day of visioning with Imagine Cape Town at Sakumlandela Primary, Kyahelitsha
  • SEED clarifies three foci: 
  • Five Day Permaculture Teacher Training
  • Materials development through workshops
  • Facilitating implementation at model schools
  • 90 teachers graduated through Five Day Training
  • Two model schools with active Outdoor Classrooms
  • Capacity building in the school pool for another four schools
  • 6000 learners impacted through school food gardens
  • Materials development workshops with 40 teachers from six schools 
  • Foundation Phase Teaching Resource piloted: Foundations in SEED distributed to 200 teachers through Sharenet
  • Partnerships formed with Department of Education through the NEEP
  • Development of Environmental Education curriculum based on ten environmental themes
  • Two community drama facilitators mentored in the delivery of EE programs 


Planting a SEED

  • Robina McCurdy came to South Africa from New Zealand and facilitated a three-month pilot at one school.
  • The initial pilot at Bongolethu Primary School was run as a unique collaboration between three Organisations (Abalimi Bezekhaya, The Novalis Institute and EarthCare Aotorea).
  • The pilot  ocused on developing lesson plans and transforming the grounds of the school.
  • There was a strong focus on re-connecting people to the land and on indigenous knowledge, arts and culture.