Homepage » Forums » Permaculture in Your Neighborhood » South Africa » Sending you guys some Green Love from South Africa!

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    Francesca Compaan

    Hello all you fellow Green lovers! A quick meet and greet from my side: I am a 27 year old female living in SA and my dream is to Open a fully Sustainable Eco-Backpackers in the next 3 years, this has been my dream for as long as I can remember and I am so happy that I finally found this site! It is just the first step of many so I hope I will get to know some of you no matter where in the world you are!

    I absolutely love brainstorming new ideas so give me a shout if you have a passion for Nature and would like to discuss ideas and designs.



    Hi Francesca! I love backpacking and am wondering about your ideas. What would sustainable backpacking look like? Here (Colorado, US) the emphasis is on leaving no trace so that means bringing gas canisters for cooking.


    Francesca Compaan

    Hi Helen!

    Regarding energy for cooking I would really like to explore the option of Methane Gas that can be produced from animal and human waste. I would like to combine it with Solar and wind power and maybe experiment with a few new prototypes for generating power.

    I have a very helpful pdf that is being used for developing eco-villages in China, there are quite a few ideas on different models that can be used.

    The eco backpackers would be developed on a similar model as any other eco development but the big difference would come in regarding permanent residents as there would be quite a few less, being replaced instead by volunteers that are travelling through the country or any person who just needs a break from the rat race, this allows for a virtual flood gate of skill development that can be passed along between volunteers. here is a link to an amazing Backpackers in Australia with almost no permanent staff.

    South Africa currently has some amazing backpackers and I have travelled to quite a few of them over the last few years, it opens your eyes to see that there is always more than one way to do things!

    I would love to have greenhouses in conjunction with food forests for food production, a Telapia dam and Salmon dam and Chickens for Protein, we would also like to eventually produce our own cheeses and add a bakery in the final stages.

    The benefit of using the backpackers system is that it uses community living but still incorporate individual participation in everyday tasks leaving the afternoons mostly free to enjoy nature and be creative.

    Please give me some feedback as I feel like a mad scientist some days! hahaha

    There is so much to think of but this has been running through my head for years now!



    Did you also think about financial sustainability? This is what I am interested in, based on everything connected to permaculture and communities and nature. I just get started in this…



    Sorry, Francesca, my name is Christine and I live in NOrthern California, immigrated there from Austria.


    Francesca Compaan

    Hi Christine!

    I’m sure that with any project we get involved in we would like it to be financially sustainable in the end of the day, obviously in order to get it to that stage it will take a few years of blood, sweat and tears with little financial reward as we would have to build a lot of the accommodation and facilities from scratch unless we can get a piece of land that is already off the grid and partly self sustainable.

    Also you have to consider if you are buying the land cash or getting it financed, it can take a lot of pressure off the project if you don’t have big financial deadlines too meet in the end of every month because I would like to get a bunch of like minded people together that are there because it’s what they love to do.

    When running an eco-backpackers most of your money will be made off food and alcohol, just take into consideration that by now your food gardens and greenhouses should be fully operational and self-sustainable, having a little micro brewery could add a different dimension and pull too your community but marketing is what is going to make or break your Eco-backpackers in the first few years because in the end of the day it won’t matter if you have the most amazing place in the whole world if no one knows about it.

    I think the financial sustainability will also depend on what activities you have available. Will you be hosting an annual music festival? Will you be hosting Spiritual Retreats? What will be the big draw and how will you get the message out there?

    What group of people will you be catering for? I am a backpacker at heart, so I will definitely be targeting other backpackers. People are battling financially and a lot of people don’t have the extra cash lying around to go on luxurious holidays any more. People are looking for new and exciting options that won’t break the bank- please also remember that just because someone is saving money it doesn’t mean they don’t want comfort. So my goal is to find that balance.

    So in the end of the day are you doing it because you want to get rich or live off the earth? I want a balance between the two, even though I’m a total hippie peace freak in the end of the day a business needs to be run as a business (especially if other peoples livelihoods depends on this project), so the goal is to make it as self-sustainable as possible whilst bringing in enough money to cover any shortfalls without living month-to-month.

    All food produced that can not be used or stored will have to be sold, that is also why location will be such an important factor when planning the backpackers. It will be smart to maybe start a farmers market at the backpackers for the surrounding community because those will be the people that make or break your business, in low season can you get the locals through your doors?

    So I guess it will rely largely on your monthly overheads, the less overheads you have the easier it is to make it financially sustainable. So my goal would be to make those overheads as little as possible from the very start to take the pressure off in the long haul.

    Please let me know if you feel that I have missed what you were asking as English is only my second language and there is always room for error in my interpretations of subject matter.



    Hi Francesca

    What a great dream to have! I love SA and plan to be back for a month next March time – starting in Cape Town and road tripping up the Eastern Cape all the way to Timbavaati and Mpumalanga. Whereabouts are you?

    Hehe my name is also Francesca!


    Francesca Compaan

    Hello Francesca!

    I just love your name! I am living in KZN – Durban currently.

    Have you been to Hogsback yet? It is a few hours away from Port Elizabeth which you will pass on your travels. If you can stop at Hogsback then definitely do so! One of the most amazing places in South Africa!






    Not been there yet – stayed in Cape Town and went travelling to Kuruman to meet Credo Mutwa. Will take you up on your advice and visit Hogsback.

    I’d love to chat further about your eco-backpackers vision too.

    Cheers Francesca



    Hi Francesca

    I’ve been to Hogsback and loved it!

    I’m in the Dargle Valley, Midlands KZN and building a low impact backpackers. Will be a while to get off the grid due to cost factors, not least Eskom prices…..on 3 phase so just R1,500 in charges before even switching on a light. But quite a few properties in the valley are off grid now and lots of permaculture expertise in the valley. Next time you’re in the midlands give us a shout.



    Francesca Compaan

    Hi Jacqui!

    So nice to hear from a fellow South African!
    The Midlands is such an amazing place for a backpackers! Yes Eskom hasn’t been making it easy for anyone in the last few years. I would really love to find out a little bit more about your projects you guys are busy with. I would really love to pop in one day! Sounds amazing.



    Hi Francesca

    Have you ever been to Bulungula backpackers in the Transki? It’s completely off the grid and works with the local poeple and eco system, it’s amazing. It has eco toilets/showers etc.

    I’m in Dublin at the mo but will be back in sunny SA in December so keep in contact!


    Francesca Compaan

    Hi Jaqui!

    We are actually heading to Coffee Bay in Feb, I’m sure I’ve heard of Bulungula before but I haven’t been there before, I will definitely live to stop there!

    Looking forward to exploring some new places!

    Give us a shout when you guys are back in SA!



    Hello Francesca Compaan and welcome to the Online Permaculture Design Course!

    I am really thrilled that you have chosen to join us for this world-changing program. With many tens of thousands of enrolled students, this is the world’s largest permaculture education course, and we’re really quite excited to share this knowledge with you.

    I want to take a moment to let you know about a few options that can help you get the most out of your learning experience with us:

    – Our instructors answer questions on these forums, and we generally really encourage you to participate in the forums as much as you can, as it will really help you engage with this material in the best possible way. You are encouraged to post any questions you may have about the lectures or general permaculture questions.

    – The course itself is offered completely free of charge (no catch, no gotcha, nothing). We also offer the same material on DVD (so you can watch it on your television) and you can purchase the DVD sets @

    – We do offer the internationally-standard Permaculture Design Certificate as an option with this course. The certificate program includes an experiential design project and examination; the design project can be for virtually any topic, including your own property. You can learn more about the certification @

    If you agree that the knowledge we offer in these lectures is worthwhile, we encourage you to support the continued development of this program by purchasing the DVD sets and the certification. The DVD sets also make truly gifts for friends and loved ones, and are a great way to introduce other people to permaculture (consider donating a set of DVDs to your local library!).

    Again, welcome on-board. I encourage you to take a moment to post on the other forums. If you have any questions, please post them in the Technical Questions or the Q&A forums (/forums). On behalf of our entire team, we hope that you enjoy this program and look forward to seeing you take this knowledge into the wild!

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