In 2015, The Ivory Foundation began supporting St Paul’s School in Hlotse, Lesotho, a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, by setting up a pilot farm within it, under the guidance of a crop manager trained in sign language. The aim of the project was twofold:
- Firstly, to meet the needs of the school canteen through the self-production of vegetables, eggs, milk and pork.
- Secondly, to train the schoolchildren, particularly the older ones, in skills that will be useful to them when they return to their respective villages.
As a result, 6 young people have been trained in market gardening and animal husbandry, thus contributing to the life of the school. The Ivory Foundation has helped them to set up an NGO, “Farming our Future”, so that they can take on other young people in subsequent years, while at the same time offering them a future. After testing their skills on a 3,000 m2 micro-farm in St Monica for more than 2 years, with a dormitory for 6 young people, it was necessary to find a larger site to sustain the project.
With the financial support of The Ivory Foundation, Farming Our Future was able to acquire 3 hectares of land in its own name at Levi’s Nek, 10 km from St Paul’s school, to build a double dormitory with bathrooms and a large kitchen to accommodate the 12 pupils. A second unit was fitted out to accommodate international volunteers invited to contribute their expertise to the development of the project, while a third unit was built to house the centre’s director and his office.
Once completed, the farm will include organic vegetable crops, chickens, rabbits, sheep, pigs and cows. The project also promotes sustainable farming techniques through learning programmes based on the principles of permaculture, agroforestry and the circular economy. The model farm will offer comprehensive agricultural vocational training, both in terms of know-how and economic management, with the aim of guiding young deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Lesotho towards an independent activity capable of providing for their future needs.
In this film, made in 2020 by Alexandre Berger, Leepa Mosehle, farm manager at St Monica Farm, explains how the farm works and its aims.