At LIV Durban we have a new volunteer and she has brought a lot of tiny helpers with her!
Steph is working for our Promised Land Gardens project, and she is a passionate and enthusiastic bee keeper. Bringing bees to the project is beneficial in two major ways – it helps our plants, as the bees pollenate, and also means we can start collecting honey.
Durban has always been my home, and I heard about LIV in 2014 and I loved the work that LIV was doing. I moved away from Durban to study conservation, and moved back to Durban in 2020.
I love being as wild and connected to nature as I can be, so living in Durban was really difficult for me. I had a nagging feeling that I needed something else, that was more outdoors and more suited to who I am. I attended a prayer meeting in 2021 for the Durban riots, and I met someone there who was from LIV.
Although it had been a long time since I thought of LIV, I remembered that I’d thought of volunteering there. I began the process of applying, and started volunteering in the ECD. I helped for one day a week until the end of the year, and although I loved LIV I had the sense I was in the right place but the wrong department. So I started asking about other areas to get involved. Eventually the volunteer coordinator contacted me about the Promise land Gardens project. She said she thought I’d be great for it, and I immediately said yes. At the time I was already juggling a lot of balls, I had started a bee business, I was studying theology full time, and I had just started teaching online as well as a side income.
I wasn’t sure what kind of commitment I could make, but I’d made my mind up and it sounded amazing, so I came. Christine, the project leader, laid out the whole project to me and I really felt God stirring my heart, saying I need to be here. And so we started with the project and I was just volunteering on Thursday afternoons, and the more I did it the more I felt God pulling my heart towards LIV. Towards the end of last year Christine started to hint she needed more help and she wanted me to come on full time, and as time progressed I agreed to come on as a full time volunteer and move onsite. When I applied for the full time role living onsite it was amazing the way those who knew me at LIV were advocating for me and it was 100% confirmation that this was where God wanted me to be.
The bees were something I was doing as a business on my own, and for a while I hadn’t been giving it the attention God wanted me to, but there was a moment where God said you need to do this faithfully. So I really started to do it faithfully, I got my marketing going and worked hard on the business, and I heard God saying “My good and faithful servant”. As soon as I started being faithful with the bees that was when God said “this is great, but I want that faithfulness here at LIV.”
The bees work perfectly with farming because they pollenate, and also the honey is an incredible source of income for the project and for myself. The sales will go into funding my salary to be here, and it will start building up and be income for the project. It’s also something we can train people in, not only in farming but in bee keeping.
What’s lovely about the bee keeping is because of my conservation background, and because I grew up with my mum telling me we have to look after all God’s creatures, I don’t push my hives too far. A lot of commercial bee keepers just push, until they almost break, so I very much look after my hives from a conservation viewpoint. When they’re ready for a harvest I will take it. I am not supplementary feeding, I’m not pollenating and moving them around, I’m not using them as a productive thing, but treating them as a colony and supporting their biological needs to be able to produce for us. Which is what we do with the farming, where if we build up the biological systems, the plants will just grow and produce food, like God created it to do. God didn’t create bees to always be productive, he gave them cycles, and we have to work with those cycles of nature. So the bees will be a part of Promise Land Gardens, and we are very excited to start selling the honey.