Method Gundidza is EarthLore’s director. He has been with the organisation since early 2013 and has held key posts as Finance Manager and then as Programme Manager after discovering a deep passion for farming and working with rural farming communities. In addition to his extensive knowledge of EarthLore, he is a Certified Chartered Accountant with almost 20 years financial management experience in both the public and private sectors.
For the past five years, Method has become increasingly involved in field activities that resonate with his childhood days. He found himself being strongly drawn back to his roots in a rural farming community in the Bikita district, Zimbabwe, where his mother and several family members live. He views the return to his roots as opening the way to a sustainable future with his family who grow a diversity of healthy food in their home garden. This provides valuable opportunities to share the exciting wonders of growing one’s own food with his young children and teaches the importance of food production to secure one’s future.
EarthLore’s involvement in Bikita, since 2015, has produced many noteworthy changes and achievements that attract growing interest. These include the revival of svoboda, a small grain lost to Bikita for several decades, and tsenza, a tuber that has not been grown in the area for years. There is also the annual Bikita Seed and Food fair, organised by mainly women farmers, that has become an important festival on the agroecology calendar.
In July 2017, Method was amongst the first graduates of the Gaia Foundation’s groundbreaking three year international training course on Earth Jurisprudence (EJ) which views Nature as our teacher. EJ is deeply respectful of the natural lores that ultimately take precedence over all man-made laws. When we break the lores and laws of nature, we do so at our peril - as we are witnessing with the climate crises we are facing. Method is currently a mentor for the second group of EJ students.
In April 2018, he was invited to speak at the UN in New York on African Perspectives of Earth Jurisprudence – Reweaving the Basket of Life.
He was also invited to France and to South America to present EarthLore’s work.
Method is making a valuable contribution to EarthLore’s growing reputation as an exemplary partner in regional agroecology programmes in Southern Africa, as well as with EarthLore’s partners in Eastern,Central and West Africa.
Mampholo Matlala joined EarthLore in March 2020 as the Finance and Administration Manager. She has worked in the financial field for 13 years, of which 11 years have been in the Non-Profit Organisation sector. She holds two diplomas and is completing her B.Com degree in Financial Accounting. Despite her passion for finance, the love of NGO/NPO work is in Mampholo and she has a strong interest in activities and work that allow her to actively give back to people. It comes naturally to her to see herself in the shoes of those who are vulnerable and this motivates her to want to make a positive difference to their lives. She has been in groups for youth and community leaders since her school days and, even as an adult, she still has the same desire to contribute to society. Mampholo is particularly drawn to EarthLore’s work and is aware of how working with EarthLore has opened her mind to Mother Nature and the realisation that every creature is as important as human beings. The organisation provides a bigger picture of Earth with all its inhabitants and everything that is part of the planet. Understanding Earthlore and getting involved in its field programmes with the communities enables her to perform her financial role more efficiently.
Mashudu Takalani is EarthLore’s programme and administration assistant. She straddles administrative and programme work, assisting in financial management and the coordination of field activities including community dialogues, seed work, agroecology training and eco-mapping processes. Mashudu joined EarthLore (then Mupo) in 2009 as a volunteer, working with communities in Venda until her full time appointment in 2012. This makes her the oldest serving member of the team to date. She enjoys working closely with and learning from knowledgeable elders as she accompanies communities on the journey to reviving their indigenous knowledge and practices, including rituals and ceremonies. She is one of the current group of students engaged in the Gaia Foundation’s three year international training course on Earth Jurisprudence (EJ) which views Nature as our teacher and that the Earth is governed by Nature’s lores and laws.
Sheila Berry is EarthLore’s communications and advocacy consultant. She has been actively involved with EarthLore as a board member for five years and as its part-time director for four years. She is a clinical psychologist who has been a strong campaigner for social and environmental justice for more than 30 years. She views Nature as the source of physical, mental, psychological and spiritual wellbeing and health. She draws inspiration from the traditional rural farming communities that EarthLore accompanies and from indigenous people, particularly hunter-gatherer communities in Southern and Eastern Africa, where she worked previously.
Sheila views her work with EarthLore as a powerful way of saying Yes to Life that has encouraged her to plant her own food garden and save and share seeds. This provides a vital counterpoint to her role as an ardent activist saying No to Mining, specifically the Tendele open cast coal mine in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Tendele operates on the boundary of the historic iMfolozi wilderness area, part of the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, a 110-year old sanctuary for rhino. Sheila worked in iMfolozi as a wilderness psychologist and witnessed the healing power of the place. This drives her determination not to let this sacred natural area be destroyed by coal mining. In 2014 she initiated the Save Our Wilderness (SOW) campaign under the auspices of the Global Environmental Trust (GET) which, together with ALL RISE, the all-women legal team, support the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) opposing the expansion of Tendele coal mine into their tribal land.
Sheila loves the power of words and is enjoying sharing EarthLore’s inspiring way of accompanying rural farming communities as they rediscover how much their elders knew and who they truly are.
Khumotso Thandi Kock
Khumotso Thandi Kock is a community support assistant working with Swati speaking farmers in Elukwatini, Mpumalanga, where EarthLore has been working since 2015. One of her tasks is to document inspiring stories associated with the achievements of farmers in reviving sustainable farming practices and their traditional seeds. She is a Masters’ graduate in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) from North West University (NWU). Though she is a Swati, she was born and bred among the Northern Sotho Ba-Pedi and Mapulana and thus identifies herself as bicultural. She joined EarthLore in 2019 October, and since then she has been passionate about learning more about her Swati culture and going back to her roots.
In July 2017, Sara started working for EarthLore part-time from Zimbabwe, to assist with fundraising. She has a wealth of experience having worked in London for 13 years. After the completion of her MA in Human Rights, she provided fundraising and project management for our close partner, the Gaia Foundation, in London, with whom she currently still works on a part-time basis. Sara has a passion for community food growing, having run her own food growing training project and being head grower on London’s then only certified organic market garden. Back home in Zimbabwe, she set up a community newspaper and continues links with rural farming communities projects in the country. She also assists the African Biodiversity Network with fundraising and communications. She has a beautiful vegetable garden, keeps chickens and is delighted by the joy her two small children get from picking their own food.