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Mayan Tree Spinach

This succulent plant is indigenous to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.

It is a perenial so it produces spinach leaves all year round for several decades.  The leaves are very delicious and about three times more nutritious than normal vegetable spinach.

There are now more than 1000 spinach trees on the C4L campus.  So those who come to learn about growing it can take away a few cuttings.  It grows from cutting, not seeds, much like cassava.

It is so tasty when prepared as a vegatable, or cooked as a bread, pastry, cake or cookie.  This opens the door to varied job creation opportunities for youth.

C4L itself is able to either:

a) sell spinach leaves or spinach bakery products

b) sell non-accredited training to youth teams to learn how to grow it and run a bakery

c) use its presence on campus to attract accredited training (e.g. learnerships in Horticulture)

 

Blended Learning

Our experience at C4L has taught us to offer Entrepreneurship training BLENDED with some specific vocational training.

In this case, we offer a "value chain" that includes:

  • Growing spinach trees
  • Marketing leaves
  • Baking
  • Delivery to traders
  • Marketing spinach bread, spinach pies and pastries, cakes and cookies

This has been one component of C4L's Green Livelihoods programme for several years now.

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Solar-thermal

When youth teams come to C4L on "exposure visits", Mayan Tree Spinach is our centrepiece.  But we also like to point out another golden opportunity...

The National Development Plan calls for a 50% density of SWHs by the year 2030.  Currently, there is about 5% density.  So there is a huge opportunity here for green entrepreneurs.

The new President is more inclined to Renewable Energy than to Nuclear ambitions.

For cost reasons, and to reduce waste, C4L prefers the "retrofit" models that continue to use the existing geyser as a water tank - after it is disconnected from electricity.  There are South-African-made products that make this kind of conversion very easy to install.

C4L continues to regard this skill as a huge opportunity for unemployed youth to start a business.  C4L has already trained over 300 youth how to install solar water heaters.