Newsletter - Summer 2011/12


It is the Hoppy Season!
Bright striped grasshoppers are hatching and marching across our fields and roads. Soon there will be plenty of frogs crossing the roads as well, especially at night. They are not difficult to avoid if you drive at a mindful pace, so there is no reason why our district roads should be littered with dead creatures this summer. Just because things are small does not mean they are less worthy of consideration or are insignificant in the ecology of the Midlands.

Dargle at COP17
It might come as a surprise to know how many Dargle people were involved with Climate Change activities around COP17. Gill Addison of groundWork (local partners of Friends of the Earth International) was one of the main organisers of Civil Society events around the conference.

On 24 Dec the Climate Train rolled into Pietermaritzburg station (for some reason we couldn't get them to stop in Dargle!). A group of learners from Corrie Lynn school spent an informative and enjoyable day engaging with the various creative activites on the station platform. Tinks Fowler and Nikki Brighton spent time with the Woodstock Art Reef Project contributing to their installation of Crochet Coral to highlight the plight of coral reefs threatened by climate change. Surrounded by piles of colourful wool and enthusiastic young people, the crochet hooks flew and two new pieces of 'coral' from the Midlands joined the artwork! Read more here.

Kate Pallet (Tinks' daughter) is president of the Green Campus Initiative at UCT, and with fellow students attended much of the conference. "During this event, which is like a "global brainstorm" about a world-wide problem, one has to ask, why is there division between those thinking about what happens on the ground and those doing stuff on the ground? With an emergency situation pending, our political negotiations are like a wheelchair on a sandy beach: trying to move forward but ineffective to match the speed of the incoming waves. Our skills and forces could be utilised more effectively if we were more humble, more open to delegating and sharing our vision and tasks. Let's not reinvent the wheel if it'll get stuck in the sand; let's airlift ourselves out of the reach of the waves." Read more about Kate's experiences at COP17 it on her blog at

Cleo, Gala, Dieter and Josie Rowe-Setz joined protesters and politicians to Walk the 3km Blue Line along Durban beachfront on 27 December. The Blue Line highlights the physical threat of Climate Change caused sea level rise. Much of Durban beachfront and central city will be lost.

Gala and her University of Pretoria student friends, created the world's first Biogame with a Zulu speakers version. Gala is passionate about improving global environmental management. They launched their game at the curtain raiser to the launch of COP17 with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and KZN Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize. Gala Rowe-Setz and Steve van der Walt conceptualised, designed, developed and produced the game. Biogame is a game that can be played on the web between individuals or teams anywhere in the world or which can be downloaded and played on stand-alone computers in schools or homes. "Every individual on the planet has the power to make a change and it is up to us to live more responsibly" said Rowe-Setz, "We are using up natural resources as if they are never going to run out while we hoard money as if it is in limited supply. We hope very much that this is a useful contribution from us, as young South Africans, to a sustainable future for us all". visit to explore and play the game for free.

Climate Justice Now March in Durban on 3 December saw Lucinda, Iona and Emily Bate, Kate, Emma and Luke Pallet, Nikki Brighton, Gill Addison, all carrying protest banners to ensure their voices were heard. Friends of the Dargle - Ross Haynes, Eidin Griffin, Bridget Ringdahl and Claire Adderley joined us too. It was the most wonderful, positive day, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Lucinda commented "We're so delighted we found friends amongst all the other marchers, it was a great fun day. We really wanted to ride bicycles back to the stadium but unfortunately being members of the Dargle Conservancy didn't qualify us for a free bike, so we ended up getting 2 people movers which cost 2 x R4 each. They still are very clean and no graffiti – we were very impressed." The most coverted item at the march was the gorgeous groundWork t-shirts designed by Barry Downard - everyone wanted one! Read more on Nikki's blog at

Claire Janisch spent time at The Oasis which offered a hub for new ideas and leadership for a low climate risk economy. On 5 December, Claire did a presentation to the Fresh Thinking Forum on Biomimicry and Systems Solutions. Afterwards, delegates from other NGO's visited the Dargle and were charmed by the Low-Carbon Lemon Juice she served them (which she had bought at the Dargle Local Market!)

SCARY STUFF: Collective efforts forced the US to back down from locking in the "worst idea ever": delaying agreement on a new climate treaty until 2020. The roadmap agreed to in Durban calls for a climate agreement to be reached by 2015, with full implementation five years later. It's better than "the worst" possible outcome, but it's still a cowardly, unacceptable delay on global climate action -- and a recipe for climate disasters. On the whole, the results from Durban are a grave disappointment. Targets for emissions reductions are still too vague, too weak, or too distant to get carbon dioxide levels down below the safe upper limit of 350. Check out courageous moments from Durban here

Dargle Schools
Corrie Lynn School are very proud that they received an Eco-Schools Platinum Award for succesfully completing their sixth year in the programme with a focus on Forests form 2011. Earlier in the year, they visited the forest at Kilgobbin Cottage where they conducted a biodiversity survey. Inspired by what they have learned, the learners (shown above) wrote a play about using forest resources sustainably, which they performed at the Midlands Meander Education Project Eco-Schools Awards ceremony recently. Barend and Helen Booysen attended with a number of the childrens' mothers to see them in action and all thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. Dynamic educator Thenjiwe Ngcobo (in traditional dress) was thrilled when Barend invited them to return again next year for another forest day.

Principal, Mrs Dladla, would like to thank everyone who contributed to their school trip to Durban last week.

Dargle Primary, who have been registered with the programme for the past three years earned their Green Flag, much to the delight of teachers Miniza Mnchunu and Nonhlanhla Shange who attended the colourful Award ceremony. One of their Eco-Schools themes were Nature and Biodiversity - where MMAEP assisted with lessons on Water life, Soil Biodiversity and Insects. Other environmental activites included solar cooking, recycling and food gardening. On the last day of term the teachers and learners congratualted one another on achieving green flag status.

Development updates
Barry Downard met recently with the DAEARD to discuss, and get updates on local development issues. The Piggly Wiggly/Highgate Wine Estate development is still awaiting the MEC's decision, and the Lions River Low Cost Housing proposal still has issues such as sewerage and water supply which need to be resolved.

Dargle Local Living
Nicky Mann of Tanglewood put on a fine spread for our last function of the year. All local produce, of course! We enjoyed celery and leek soup from her own garden, pork from Caz Griffin, a spinach bake using Wana farm feta and cream, carrots and cabbage from Dave Horne, salad from Helen Mann with quail eggs from Wayne Lowrens and Kathy Herrington, mulberry ice cream from Gilly Robartes, with peach tarts from Knowhere Farm. Delicious.

The Dargle Local Market is growing in popularity with all visitors thoroughly enjoying catching up with friends and neighbours and stocking up on fresh Dargle produce. Debbie Hayes of the Dargle General Dealer does stock a range of local produce if you are not able to make the market -

  • Handmade mozzarella, feta and cream cheese
  • Handmade, preservative free, yoghurts and drinkhurts
  • Fresh and smoked trout
  • Pork, duck and chicken and home made biltong
  • Jersey butter and cream and free range eggs
  • Fresh veggies and preserves
  • Home made puds and cheesecake icecream and biscuits

The big comfy couches are the perfect spot to chat with a friend when you pop by to collect your post. Read the Dargle Conservancy info posters while you are there. Remember to let your guests know what is available at the store. Perhaps include a link to in your booking sheet to entice them with delectable Dargle fare?

Have you read Andrew Anderson's story in our November Wildlife Sightings about African Insight's support of the Dargle economy for their year-end celebrations? If you missed the story you can read it at under Dargle Goodies. Why not give some serious consideration to following their example and making sure your celebrations support Dargle enterprise too?

Conservation Christmas
Exchanging gifts is a lovely idea, but we need to think about alternative ways to show our love for each other and our planet.

Go local – support the guy down the road who is making tea trays, garden furniture or dinner plates, rather than the big stores. Shop for individually created items made with love. Everyone needs to get their hair cut or would enjoy a meal out, give vouchers for goods and services nearby and boost our community economy.

Ban food miles - Make your festive meals a celebration of local seasonal food - this is one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact and is so much fun with all the delicious markets we have. Buy drinks in returnable glass bottles.

Think secondhand – pre-owned stuff is pretty cool, has a low carbon footprint and probably a curious story to tell, too. Hospice and SPCA shops are full of treasures and we have an abundance of antique shops to explore.

Why not give a donation to a good cause - instead of buying gifts, which may end up in the landfill. Some local options are:

  • Adopt-A-Dargle-Dassie – an initiative of the Dargle Conservancy to strengthen the food web by re-introducing rock hyrax to areas where they are no longer found. A great gift for anyone with happy memories of the Midlands, or would like to contribute to conservation. Recipients receive a quirky dassie certificate designed and printed in the Dargle. See or mail
  • Everyone likes to feel good. Funda nenja relies entirely on donations and volunteers to run their Friday afternoon dog training classes in Mpophomeni. Your feel-good gift gives dogs the chance to feel special and kids the opportunity of saying "good dog"! A personalised e-card will go to the recipient of your kindness. Perfect for family and friends who are far away, and saves a fortune on postage too.
  • Buy a Brick for the KZN Crane Foundation's new Wattled Crane Breeding facility in Nottingham Road. An eco-friendly green design using local materials and low energy options to raise chicks of this extremely endangered bird (only 255 left in KZN) to release back into the wild. 078 599 0212
  • Spoil your favourite twitcher with unlimited bird watching at Karkloof Conservation Centre for a year. R300 means you can visit as often as you like or R120 gets you entrance once a month. Remember to pack a picnic or sundowners to enjoy beside the water. Call Twane 072 376 3023
  • Visit the online B.U.G Shop where you can make a gift to the Midlands Meander Education Project in lieu of physical wrapped presents for family and friends. Your donation will be used to toward creative environmental lessons in local rural schools. Check out for a catalogue and an order form. Shopping with a conscience will offer a child the chance to learn more about the amazing planet we all share.


Sandersonia aurantiata spotted in the Dargle this week. These flowers used to be abundant, but years ago it was fashionable to pick bunches of them for sale at Christmas time as they make long-lasting cut flowers. This, along with habitat loss, this has lead to their decline in the wild. New Zealand has developed them for horticulutre and they are now available worldwide as cultivated plants.

Dargle Wildlife
Our monthly Wildlife Sightings are proving popular. We would love to include more areas of the Dargle, so if you would like to contribute you list at the end of each month, please contact The more participants there are, the better our record and the more important it is to conservation. It would also be interesting to record rainfall in the different parts of Dargle.

Caroline Conway-Physick who lives in Perth now, loves getting our news and sent this comment after receiving the November Wildlife Sightings "How wonderful to hear the delight and enthusiasm from people who look into the wonders of their surrounds and truly enjoy their offerings! Thank you for sharing this and send my wishes and kind regards to all for a fabulous Christmas and New Year."

Everyone enjoys a wonderful photograph, so please share yours. Kevin Culverwell took this fantastic picture of new Blue Crane chicks on Old Kilgobbin last year.

Blue Crane chicks

New Members
Welcome to Sam Ellis-Rose of Zuvuya who has joined the conservancy on behalf of the NPO Sihlangene Kokwethu in Impendle. Sam is also the Coordinator for the Impendle Eco-Schools Node. "We would like to offer a "living sustainably off-the-grid" workshop at our homestead for the Dargle Conservancy in the new year—perhaps Feb or March? We'd also like to move more pro-actively on the transition town implementation in our area."

We continue to work hard at strenghtening the Midlands Conservancy Forum of 12 local conservancies. We have been surprised at how many conservancies from further afield have requested to join as well. Gareth Boothway, Biodiversity Stewardship Manager is making steady progress with landowners to protect land. The first site to be completed is likely to be Gartmore, owned by Charlie McGillivray in Karkloof. MCF has been approached to facilitate an environmental education programme in Midlands schools in 2012 and there are other opportunities in the pipeline. There is no doubt that by working together MCF will have a big impact on biodiversity conservation in the Midlands.

Show your Support
Do you have a link to the Dargle Conservancy website from your own website? Certainly, it gives prospective visitors a taste of our world and surely they would not be able to resist booking a few nights with you! Insert this link:

You may have noticed that a number of Conservancy members advertise their businesses on the "supporters" page. It only costs R100 per year to do this and will give site visitors a direct link to your business. Contact 083 473 3074 or should you wish to participate.

Have you paid your Subscription of R250 for membership of the Dargle Conservancy for 2011? Would you like to purchase one of the Dargle Conservancy sign boards to display at the entrance to your property? R100 each - Contact Andrew to order on or call 082 494 0668

Our bank account (FNB Howick 220725 Acc no: 622 1187 9236) or pop it into our post box (no 30) at Dargle Store. Any questions? Contact Clive Shippey, Treasurer of the Dargle Conservancy on 082 490 3467 or


Hoppy Holidays! Andrew Anderson, Barry Downard, Gill Addison, Vaughan Koopman, Clive Shippey, Kate Robinson, Nikki Brighton - Dargle Conservancy committee

For any additional information please click here to contact us.