Newsletter - Spring 2011


Local Living
On 31 September over 60 Midlands folk gathered at Tanglewood Country House for the launch of Dargle Living Local.  What a wonderful celebration of community and local food!  Many brought along some produce to share – there were splendid leeks, a giant cauliflower, wild greens, goose eggs, horse radish, tomato relish, herbs, oranges, spinach, marmalade and more!  The old wooden foyer table literally groaned until excited shoppers snapped up the fresh and fabulous food.  There were open pollinated seeds to share, rhubarb plants and compost too.

After a short presentation on some of our local food heroes, we watched Food Inc – a movie about the Industrial Food System which was pretty scary and revealed some unpleasant truths about what we eat and where we are going.  Then it was time for supper which Nicky Mann (chef and owner of Tanglewood) and her team had prepared with love.  All ingredients came from close by, with the exception of the pecans which were from Hilton because the Cape Parrots have eaten all of them in the Dargle.  The almonds, phyllo and brandy were not local either.  This is what we ate:

Fresh Fennel and Citrus Salad
Garden salad (including lucern) with Feta
Spring Greens with Parmesan
Pumpkin & Sweet Potato with fried sage and toasted almonds
Roast Chicken with Pork Stuffing and mustard sauce
Leek and Cream Cheese Phyllo pie
Handmade Pasta with burnt butter and herbs
Pecan & Brandy Tart
Cheesecake Ice Cream

The food looked gorgeous and tasted delicious, many declaring it the best meal they had had all year.  Over convivial conversation with neighbours, plans were hatched for a regular morning market, a local currency, recipe sharing and compost workshops.  Everyone agreed that Dargle is a wonderful place to live, work and eat.

Sam Rose - Thank you very much for organizing the local evening.  It’s wonderful to get together with neighbours and be inspired.  It reinforced for us that what we’re doing on our homestead is definitely part of the solution and we’re on the right path. 
Rose Downard – It was an absolutely fabulous evening and so great that there was such a huge turnout! The movie was truly horrifying and yet people still wanted to come to show their support. The table full of lovely veges, seeds and preserves looked divine and I could have happily bought everything that was there, but thought I'd better let everyone else have a share! I settled for a bunch of yummy wild greens and Gill's happy eggs, and also picked a packet of Rio Zape bean seeds.  I believe they taste of chocolate, so can’t wait to plant them.
Tom Bate – Just to say many thanks. It was a great film and a blockbuster turnout.
Ann Burke - I loved every minute last night and the FOOD - the best I've had in SA! Makes me homesick for the CSA farms I've worked on in America. Also, such a terrific group of people - the Dargle really feels like a Community.
Jenny Hodgkinson - Thank-you for the warm welcome into Dargle Conservancy.  We really enjoyed our evening and look forward to many more, as well as supporting and being involved as much as we can.

We’ve had over 200 ‘hits’ since the launch!  Look up the Dargle Local Living blog and sign up to be part of the action: We’d really like to know if you grow anything and would like to be included.  Please email

Local Market
Our very first Dargle Local Market will take place on Sunday 2 October from 9 until 11.30!  The market will be held beside il Postino, fresh coffee will be on sale and it will be a great opportunity to catch up with local gossip and stock up on local goodies.  Anyone who would like to sell their wares (come on, of course you can!) should contact Debbie at the Dargle Dealer to book a spot.  There will be no charge for stalls, while we get established, however trestle tables are available for hire at R25 each if you don’t want to cart your own. 082 831 4092 or

The idea is to hold a market on the first Sunday of every month. Slow Dargle Sundays – special days not to leave the valley.

Local Nature Reserve
Gareth Boothway has been finalising agreements with 6 landowners who have committed 1200ha to the Dargle Nature Reserve.  The next step is to submit them to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for approval.  Gareth has also been working on the Fort Nottingham/Lion’s Bush Nature reserve, the uMgenyane and the Karkloof Nature reserve extension sites.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, contact Gareth on or 076 239 4267

Local News
Beetree Farm has received its Site of Conservation Certificate (SOCS).  The areas recovered from gum and wattle forest are looking magnificent.  Picture shows presentation of certificate to Justin Herd and Enocj Khumalo by Kim Gillings.  Enock Kumalo has been working with Justin for years and is able to identify most indigenous trees.


Forest & Fields Walk
Don’t miss this opportunity to see Spring emerge in the Mist-belt forests and grasslands!

Date: Saturday 17 September
Time: 9 for 9.30
Venue: Kilgobbin Cottage (top of D707 off D17) to Lemonwood – cars to be parked at either venue, drivers will be transported between venues. Dargle/Impendle Road.
Cost: R40 per person – this includes delicious home-made soup, bread and lemon juice for lunch at Lemonwood, after the walk.
Details: Steep walk up through Kilgobbin forest, then across fields and grasslands of Old Kilgobbin Farm and down through forest on Lemonwood.  Knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides to accompany walkers for this 2-3 hour walk.
Call Katie on 082 052 6072 to book.
Places are limited.

Kilgobbin Mist-belt forest walks
6 October, 3 November, 1 December- first Thursday of the month
Enjoy the signs of Summer emerging in the Dargle Mist-belt Forest.
9am to 11am
Kilgobbin Cottage - D707 off D17
Phone Barend Booysen for details and
to book: 082 787 0797
Donation R10 to Conservancy funds

The Secret Love Life of Cranes
Ann Burke, Former Crane Match Maker at the International Crane Foundation, USA,
now at KZN Crane Foundation Nottingham Road.
Joint Dargle Conservancy and The Lion’s River Club Event
Date: Thursday 13 October
Time: 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Lion’s River Club, Dargle
Costs:           Donation to Crane Foundation (buy a brick for their breeding centre)
R15 for local garden fresh veggie soup and roll
RSVP: Éidín Griffin 083 429 2867  or Nikki Brighton 083 473 3074

Lemonwood Forest Walks
22 October, 19 November - third Saturday of every month
A new walk to enjoy in the Dargle forests
9am to 11 am
Lemonwood – 8kms along the Dargle/Impendle Road
Donation R10 to Conservancy funds
Book with Katie Robinson 082 052 6072

9 November
Mike Chetty – Department of Agriculture will give a general overview of the Fire Act, highlighting appropriate burning and offenses and penalties. Plenty of time for discussion and questions.
6 for 6.30pm
Tanglewood Country House
Donation R10 to Conservancy funds
Booking is necessary if you are staying for supper. Nicky Mann 083 645 5619

Local Schools
At Dargle Primary last month, the Midlands Meander Education Project lesson began with Gcina Mhlope’s enchanting story “The Sun and the Moon” which explains why the moon and the sun occupy the sky at different times of the day.

After chatting about sunrise in the east and sunset in the west, we set big pieces of cardboard outside in the sun, with dowel rods in the centre, and marked the shadow it made at precisely 9am.  Every hour we all dashed outside excitedly to observe how the shadow had moved and to make a new mark. In between we chopped apples to stew with cinnamon and sugar in the solar cooker and learnt about how the weather changes according to the season. To illustrate these we decorated a big tree in sections representing the four seasons, everyone colouring, cutting and sticking bits of paper onto our poster enthusiastically. 

Once we were done, we invited the whole school to join us.  The little grade threes proudly explained how the sunstove worked and how they had cooked a treat for everyone. Everyone got a taste of the solar apple stew and decided it was the easiest and tastiest desert in the world to make!

“What a wonderful lesson.  When Charlene asked what lesson I would like, I simply sent a text saying sundials please! I was so impressed. Everyone enjoyed it and the other teachers were going to repeat the lesson with their classes that week.”  Mrs Gladys Mncwabe, Grade 3 teacher.

Remember Dargle Primary is a recycling depot for Wildlands.  Drop off all your recyclables and help raise funds for the school.
As an additional fund raising initiative to their recycling programme, Anne Wheedon has registered the Dargle Primary School with Woolworths to receive donations through the Woolworths “My School Card”.  Would interested members get a “My School Card” from Woolworths (which they must request be linked to Dargle Primary School)? Every time you shop at a Woolworths (or other participating stores) a percentage of the amount spent will go to the school.  Josie Rowe Setz and Mike Wheedon have agreed with the Headmistress, Mrs Mncwabe, to keep an eye on the money donated and to make sure that it gets spent on the children and their needs. My Planet will send a monthly summary to each participating card holder scheduling the amount raised. 

Impendle Schools
Sam Rose is the Eco-Schools coordinator for 8 Impendle schools. She would be very grateful for donations of herbs, indigenous trees, vegetable seedling and tools for the school gardens.  Contact her on 083-599-4792

Local Spring Cleaning
There is no doubt that Spring is on it’s way and it’s time to freshen things up. It’s also time to reflect on how we affect the environment and make some changes to lessen the burden we place on the Earth.  Ban harmful cleaning products from your home and office and stop using plastic bags at the store. Better yet, now that it is light earlier, make sure to visit the Farmer’s Markets for fresh, low food mile food and convivial conversation with some farmers. 
Make a list of all your Spring plans, here’s a start:

  • Open all the windows wide
  • Breathe deeply
  • Clear gutters to harvest summer rain
  • Turn weeds into weed tea fertilizer for new seedlings
  • Swop frocks, socks, hats & handbags with your friends
  • Clean windows with vinegar & water
  • Scrub your bath with bi-carb & lemon juice
  • Watch tiny spiders hatch in your carefully conserved cobwebs
  • Gather young wild greens for lunch
  • Give all your unwanted stuff (in good condition) to your favourite charity or join FreeCycle
  • Celebrate the Spring Equinox somewhere green and gentle
  • Sign up to The Planting Season and join the rest of South Africa to grow organic veggies on 22 September
  • If you don’t already, start recycling. Drop off at Dargle School
  • Give your body a break, start eating fresher, more colourful and healthier food
  • Vacumn your refrigerator coils so your fridge works more efficiently.
  • Stop using paper towels to mop and clean
  • Remove tea and coffee stains from mugs by rubbing with a little bicarbonate of soda
  • Polish wood with a mixture of 2parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice
  • Plant a tree – the tree of the year is Pappea capensis (Jackalberry), but any indigenous or fruit tree would be good. If you’ve got no space, donate one through The B.U.G. Shop to a Dargle school – visit

Local New Members
A very warm welcome to:
Debbie and Simon Hayes who live along the Petrusstroom road. Debbie is the new proprietor of the Dargle Dealer – our local store.
Jenny and Barry Hodgkins, who live beside the forest at Clyden Valley Guest farm along the Fort Nottingham road.

Local Trees
Ronel Viljoen, a MSc student at the University of Pretoria in the department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology is doing research around the bacterium that causes citrus greening disease.  To determine whether this bacterium, or a related bacterium, is associated with this tree species she will be sampling White Ironwood trees from across the country from the 12th to 23rd of September.

If you have Vepris lanceolata trees on your property and are happy for her to collect leaf samples from your trees, please would you contact her at

Local Flowers
Ursinia tenuiloba
Zulu name: umuthi wezifuba
Burnt grassland is dotted with cheerful clumps of this little daisy which open their faces to the sun each day.  Each flower is on a single stalk, but the clump produces many flowers.  The yellow petals are pinkish red underneath and it looks completely different when the flowers start to droop. The leaves are small, feathery, deeply lobed and low to the ground. Ursinia tenuiloba is one of the first plants to appear after fires in KZN, occurring from the coast to the mountains. There are 40 species in southern Africa, many of which are found in the western parts of South Africa creating the incredible floral display in Spring.  This one is pollinated by a pale green flyIt is used in traditional medicine to treat coughs, as the Zulu name indicates. The first picture in this newsletter is Ursinia tenuiloba.

Local Wildlife
The Yellow billed kites and swallows are back. We await the arrival of the cuckoos…

Barend Booysen is certain that in the 25 years he has lived in the Dargle, he has never seen such large flocks of Cape Parrots over such an extended time.  Mark Perry has seen more bushbuck this year than in the 15 years that he and Patty have lived here.  Yet, the Hertogs, who have been here for 30 years believe that wildlife in general has plummeted recently.

Graham Griffin reports that the reintroduced dassie colony on Dargle Farm is doing really well. The original group are spotted often, the family which moved down to the farmyard are doing well and he just introduced another eight animals to increase the genetic diversity.

Have you been receiving our monthly updates on wildlife spotted in the Dargle? We have started to gather data monthly of all Dargle Wildlife – plants, butterflies, animals, birds – to start a biodiversity record.  Would you be willing to contribute to that regularly? This sort of continuous data recording is very useful to scientists.  This idea has been inspired by the excellent efforts in Boston over the past few years. There is no set format, simply email your list of sightings (and photos too) to at the end of each month.  For example:  I do enjoy watching red bulbs Scadoxus break through the hard winter earth……  Send your photos too please!  You could also send a text message, if you prefer with your list to Nikki at 083 473 3074

For any additional information please click here to contact us.