• Janet McIntyre University of Adelaide
  • M. Makaulule
  • P. Lethole
  • E. Pitsoane
  • B. Mabunda
  • T.C. Mbodi
  • Norma Romm
  • V. Luxumo
  • H. Mothudi
  • F. Makahane
  • V. Netshandama


empowerment of the marginalised , small farmers, biodiversity, localisation, food security through protecting soil and multispecies habitat.


McIntyre-Mills J.J.[i] , Makaulule, M[ii]., Lethole, P[iii]., Pitsoane, E[iv]. Mabunda, B[v],  Mbodi, T.C.[vi] , Romm, N. [vii] Luxomo, V[viii]. Mothudi, H[ix] , Makahane,F[x]., Ṋetshandama, V.[xi] 


[i] Adjunct Prof Extraordinarius, University of South Africa and Adjunct Visiting Researcher, Adelaide University Janet.mcintyre@adelaide.du.au

[ii] Univen (M.A) student, Leader: Dzomo ḽa Mupo Makaulule Mphaṱheleni <mupofood@gmail.com>

[iii] "Lethole, Pat" <Lethovp@unisa.ac.za> University of South Africa

[iv] "Pitsoane, Enid" <tlhabem@unisa.ac.za>

[v] "Butshabelo Mabunda" <mabundabutshabelo@gmail.com>PGSA PGS body is PGS SAhttps://www.pgssa.org.za/

[vi]  Constance Mbodi   tcmbodi5@gmail.com PGSA PGS body is PGS SAhttps://www.pgssa.org.za/ 

[vii] University of South Africa, Professor Extraordinarius. Norma.romm@gmail.com

[viii] University of South Africa"Luxomo, Viwe" <luxomvg@unisa.ac.za>

[ix] "Mothudi, Hector" <HMothudi@unisa.ac.za> University of South Africa

[x] "Makahane, Fhaṱuwani" <Makahfr@unisa.ac.za>

[xi] "Vhonani Ṋetshandama" <Vhonani.Ṋetshandama@univen.ac.za> University of Venḓa

The key theme of this paper is that climate change, high costs of living and movement to the cities threaten food security but this  does not mean that small farmers should be threatened by the corporatisation of food production or factory farms. Localisation and food sovereignty is about owning the  means of production of the food cycle and preventing the monopolisation of seed.

The paper discusses learning within nature’s classroom in the Limpopo region of South Africa, through on line and face to face facilitation supported by University of South Africa, the University of Venda, Adelaide University and PGS[i] ( an organic farmers network). This research aims to contribute to the literature by uniting indigenous views on natural law with earth jurisprudence and Wild Law to protect the commons and habitat for multiple species. Law is first and foremost a construct according to Peter Burdon . Firstly, we make  a case for systemic principles and a systemic approach  to protecting multiple co-dependent species and a shared habitat that supports living systems. Jurisprudence, rights and wild law concepts underpin the discussion which also addresses land rights, dispossession, displacement and the dangers of land claims by mining companies . Secondly, we make  a contribution to the discussion on the draft policy on South Africa’s Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainable Use . Thirdly, we explore ways in which principles could be applied through education and  community governance to protect living systems. Fourthly, we discuss the activities of a ( growing) community of practice that supports  intergenerational earning, learning and growing a future by protecting people and the environment through social enterprises to support growing food in ways that protect and nurtures people, community and the natural environment.  We are building on the established networks of the team members who are pooling our knowledge and resources. Members of the community recently reported on how much we have learned from one another already and how many enterprises they have set up and that are continuing to grow. Meanwhile we have also benefitted from the involvement of PGS (learning about organic farming and drawing also on traditional wisdom regarding this). In this way we have focused on avoiding a green washing approach which suggests that growth can be sustained or that commodifying every step of the food production process is justifiable. Sustainable Development Goal no 8 stresses Decent work and economic growth, but growth  is the issue which William Rees , who coined the ‘ecological footprint’ warns us  against (2021, 2022) when he stresses that overshoot is more than a problem associated with climate change. It is a problem linked with human-centred thinking. Vandana Shiva ( 2022 a,b) stresses the importance of working with young people  and empowering women farmers (Shiva, 1989) so that the soil and communities remain healthy. By protecting  business as usual, monocultures (Shiva 2012,2016)  and destruction of small farmers through setting up agro industries that destroy multiple species  – we will destroy the cycle of life which depends on photosynthesis to make oxygen out of carbon and to create the molecules of life. The commodification of seeds, the use of chemical fertilisers and the promotion of fake food will only hasten desertification through destroying the soil as stressed in the launch of ‘growing life’ at the International Food Summit in 2022 and at the Feminist Food Summit in 2023.


[i] PGS body is PGS SAhttps://www.pgssa.org.za/ 


2024-01-30 — Updated on 2024-01-30