“Our journey has followed a calling from this land. The land chose us.”
The Rural Educational Development Corporation (Rucore) was founded in 1991 as a non-profit organisation with a mission of promoting holistic approaches to community development and education in post-apartheid South Africa. At this time, of great importance for Rucore, was a growing awareness of the increasing probability that within the coming decades, human society would face collapse in its economic, social and ecological systems.
Rucore’s founders believed in the importance of establishing ‘centres of learning’ where local innovation could focus on overcoming historic inequalities and where a more inclusive development could be put into practice. Their aim was to connect our land and people with local livelihoods and environmental health, in a way that is learned, lived and replicated widely.
It is from here that the Tlholego Ecovillage and Learning Centre began its life on an neglected 150 Ha cattle farm near the town of Rustenburg (Northwest Province, South Africa), nestled on the western slopes of the ancient Magaliesberg Mountains. Tlholego is a Setswana word meaning ‘creation with nature’- fitting well with our overall mission to restore our ecosystems, create local livelihoods and learn from the gifts of nature.
Over the past twenty years, Tlholego has supported itself through hosting training programs, workshops and events, as well as fundraising for specific projects. The development of community businesses in livestock and organic value added products has developed over the past decade.
More recently, interest in our work has been growing. People are learning of the many practical solutions available that meet everyday challenges from restoring damaged land, water harvesting and growing food in healthy soil, to housing, sanitation and the Ubuntu skills of working together successfully towards a common good.
The Tlholego Ecovillage Camp has been created to introduce activities that stimulate a culture of reconnecting with our earth and spiritual heritage. Building on these connections is our way of returning to a more regenerative relationship with life.
Vision and Socio-Economic Context
Tlholego Ecovillage Camp is a place where learning how to restore degraded land goes hand in hand with exploring new ways of living together. It is a place where past wounds from inherent social, environmental and racial injustices are seen, held, and healed together, and this process is considered key in the development of a regenerative culture. The camp exists to integrate African wisdom and indigenous knowledge with the restoration of the land, community and livelihoods.
Tlholego aims to provide campers with opportunities to remember their own deep connection with land as they take part in the restoration of this region. New skills for how to restore degraded lands are learned through praxis. Campers will take home with them crucial knowledge and experience to continue and expand this work with the world around them. In doing so, this allows our global community to embrace more of their potential, reconnect to their cultures, ancestry, spirituality and our beautiful Gaia – participating in activities to bring ourselves back to health, and in turn finding deeper meaning, purpose, and joy within themselves.
Come and exchange your talents at Tlholego and immerse yourself in our activities around restoring health to land and community. Learn how to engage with every drop of water and every inch of soil.
We work on restoring our damaged lands focussing on rainwater harvesting, revegetation and holistic livestock management. Examples of activities include herding Nguni cattle, re-seeding grasses, building swales and gabions and working around the village homesteads. New activities are continually emerging. Teamwork is more than fun, so come and join us.
- Tlholego Village Permaculture Design and Implementation – ongoing.
- School Holiday Camp, for local and visiting children – December 2021.
- Ecovillage Design Education (EDE), 4-week comprehensive course in the fundamentals of sustainability design – April/May 2022.
Regular experiences vary depending on seasons and interest:
- African ceremonial gatherings
- Full moon gatherings
- Sweat lodges
- Tai Ji
What to Expect and the Cost of Stay
Tlholego land is nestled on a 150 Ha site, a combination of bushveld and savanna grassland with riverine forest walks as well as a learning journey through the cultivated organic food and herb gardens. Campers will enjoy a combination of nutritious, locally sourced meals. Meals are often shared around the fireplace where we experience cultural sharing, socialising, and some well-deserved relaxation time.
Tlholego is located on the western slopes of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve (https://magaliesbergbiosphere.org.za/) and a half hours drive from the Pilanesberg big 5 wildlife area (https://www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org/), Molokwane Iron Age City, and the Cradle of Humankind (https://www.maropeng.co.za/), and well as many other cultural, educational and tourism experiences.
We recommend a minimum stay of 2 weeks to receive a meaningful and holistic experience of the Eco restoration program. Costs differ depending on length of stay and contribution to overall goals of Tlholego.
Costs of Stay:
The information below provides general guidelines for costs. Depending on personal circumstances we can negotiate appropriately on an individual basis.
Short term immersion experience (1-3 weeks)
This experience costs US$ 280 per week, for international campers and includes accommodation, three meals per day and all lessons.
Longer term experiences: including accommodation, three meals per day and all lessons.
1-3 months US$30 per day
3-6 months US$20 per day
6 months + US$13 per day
Costs do not include travel or VAT (15% in South Africa)
Tenting and shared accommodation with bathroom facilities are available.
Events, workshops and experiences:
To join these programs additional costs may apply.
Tlholego’s achievements go back to its founding in the late 1980’s. As one of the newer formed Ecosystem Restoration Camps in South Africa we are looking forward to expanding our reach and bringing ecosystem restoration to the many villages and community projects in our region.
The testimonials below provide a feel for our past achievements:
“This government recognises the important work Tlholego is doing in the development of rural learning infrastructure, and its capacity to translate development objectives into practical on the ground programs.”
“Tlholego Village is a space were belief in community development and innovation is alive. As an educational facility, Tlholego believes that our actions as human beings stem from our shared values, and that both tradition and innovation provide a strong platform for human beings to cohabit with nature. They have built a connected, informed and engaged community of Africans who are interested in developing beyond their own communities. One of the defining features of Tlholego Village is their passion for environmental justice. Justice is about protecting individuals and communities from the things that impact negatively on their well-being. They have certainly lived up to the imperatives of Tlholego!”
“I am pleased to recommend Tlholego as a good example of people-centred, sustainable community development.”
“Tlholego’s layout and architecture provides a unique space for dialogue and reflection. Whereas most other attempts at so-called ‘African design’ either lack authenticity and/or are just for the effect, Tlholego is what it is without having to try too hard. The sense of connectedness to its local context via the school and the local community, and the continuity it achieves to an ancient past, makes for a special place that needs to be protected and preserved”.
“Tlholego stands as an example of what is possible for rural communities in the dry regions of Southern Africa and is a vital node in an emerging Learning Network around sustainable livelihoods. The beautifully designed accommodation demonstrates the versatility and strength of earth building techniques, and the viability of composting toilets. Visitors may gain practical skills in many facets of organic farming and permaculture design, as well as insights into the possibilities of renewable energy. This is an ideal venue for organizational retreats and participatory learning process, since the village can host groups of 25 people at a time. The communal meeting spaces encourage deep discussion and fellowship, while the culture of cheerful hard work and collegial self-management is compelling and contagious. Tlholego is an inspirational community initiative!”
PAUL COHEN Executive Director
BSc (Eng); MPhil (Sustainable Development)
Cell: 072 638 8580
STEPHNE FAIN Financial Director
BA (Industrial Psychology)
Cell: 072 118 7357
Private Bag X82245
Postnet Waterfall Mall