Gum trees grow all along the sides of the highways. They’ve been planted by hand in perfect straight lines. In three years the tall and straight tree is ready to be harvested for poles for building. A new tree will grow from the stump, but after one or two generations, the saplings are too bushy, making them only good for paper pulp. Then the field of stumps will be burned, recycling the nutrients back into the soil. Every iteration of this process was on view beside the highway.
Pineapples from South Africa make up 5% of the worlds supply. Most are canned or juiced for export. Ladies sell fresh ones from roadside stands, each with a delightful pineapple pyramid on top. We enjoyed delicious fresh pineapple for breakfast every day.
Teak, the hardest wood in Africa, is grown for use in furniture. Much is exported to be fabricated into furniture. We saw fields of sugar cane and many trucks full of the harvested stalks going to be processed into a cheap brownish sugar, sold locally. Better, refined sugar, is processed outside of South Africa. Corn is a staple crop, used in the locals’ main food, pap. Here are some Tiger Kloof students serving pap and chicken stew to children in the shacks.
One of the Grade 7 students at Tiger Kloof did her science fair project on different recipes for building bricks, using cow dung as the main ingredeint, mixed with canes, corn meal, and/or soil. Her hope was to create a strong, waterproof, fireproof, and inexpensive building material that could be for making shacks that would be safer than the current wood and tin.