You have got to meet Carenna and Charné!
Ages 31 and 34, Carenna and Charné exude positive energy and perseverance! Before moving to their rural land on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Carenna and Charné lived together in Cape Town. They met in August 2017 and bonded over their shared passion for sport and community development initiatives. Just a year after making their initial connection, the pair led their first field hockey event in the Khayelitsha township.
Today, Carenna and Charné share videos of their community development programs and their homesteading journey. Carenna’s personality practically jumps out of the screen and pulls you into her and Charne’s homestead. Many of the videos begin with an intro with a voiceover by Carenna, where she invites viewers to become part of their story by subscribing to their private blog on Patreon and to sponsor a square meter of their ‘Enough Garden’ and watch it come to life. Donning shirts that say ‘Off-Grid Strength,’ in many of their videos, the two walk viewers through the steps involved in constructing and maintaining their homestead.
Building Strength by Moving Off-Grid
At the time of their meeting, Charné was working as a stadium manager, having recently been promoted from her job leading sport and recreation programs in multiple townships around the city. With the new position, Charné was no longer working on the ground level with the programs that gave her so much purpose. Meanwhile, Carenna came to South Africa at the beginning of 2017 to complete a master’s degree in Sport Science focused on community development. She volunteered for various sport and community programs, including a cycling and academic support program in Kayamandi. In 2019 Carenna began a PhD degree in Sport Science which is focused on the creation of sustainable development initiatives through sport.
The pair is determined to use their skills and experiences to create a sport for development program in ways that are sustainable and empowering. They believe this means looking off-grid for new ways to meet their basic needs. They transitioned their nonprofit, REN Hockey in Cape Town (2018-2021), to REN Off-Grid in the Eastern Cape. To allow their sport activities to thrive, they are creating garden initiatives where youth and community members are empowered to grow and prepare their own food.
Fueling Sustainable Growth and Food Security in South Africa
Carenna and Charné bought their HomeBiogas system as a sustainable solution to meet their basic needs for sanitation, gardening and cooking. At the time, they were exploring options for meeting these needs for themselves, with the intention of expanding to the school and local community. The fertilizer from their HomeBiogas system allowed them to start growing food on the rural land in less than a year. They are eager to use the fertilizer as a cost-effective way to expand food gardens at the local school and throughout the community.
“We are continuing to learn more each day about how to live sustainably and reduce our carbon footprint,” they shared. “The fertilizer we have gotten from the HomeBiogas system this past year would have cost thousands of dollars to buy and would have produced a lot of environmental waste in the process of creating and transporting it.” They also appreciate how clean the HomeBiogas fertilizer is, noting the impact it will have on the health of their soil and ultimately, on their personal health. Carenna and Charné are motivated to expand this concept throughout rural South African communities so that food insecurity can be decreased in sustainable and empowering ways.
Building Community with HomeBiogas
Carenna and Charné ordered their HomeBiogas system in late 2022 and set it up with the help of a few children in their rural community. They shared that the setup was very easy and an enjoyable process with the kids. Even though English is not the kids’ first language, they were able to watch the videos about HomeBiogas installation and understand what to do!
Carenna shared that:
“They enjoyed the experience and are proud to tell people around the community that they helped to install the system. Kids and adults have visited our home to see this ‘black bag’ that allows us to cook with cow manure.”
She explained that the HomeBiogas system setup and the interest it garnered has allowed them to start building relationships in the community. Charné has made it a daily habit to look for cow manure
around town, using it as her time to reflect each day. They use this manure to feed their HomeBiogas system and to mix into future garden spaces. The fertilizer from the system is used to rejuvenate the dry, clay soil, along with other biomaterials like leaves and hay.
Perhaps most exciting is how Carenna and Charné are using the HomeBiogas within the community, taking fertilizer to the local school where they have been working on plans to start food gardens. The children in the community that they spend time with are very interested in the system, along with the many people around town who see Charné collecting cow manure on her daily walks. “They ask questions and we are excited to talk about it!” Carenna shared,
“We think these conversations are opening the eyes and minds of people regarding how they can meet their basic needs.”
Follow Carenna and Charné!
You can watch Carenna and Charné’s videos on their YouTube, Off-Grid Strength, where they share two videos every week about building their homestead and community development programs. Visit their website, www.renoffgrid.org, and also find them on Patreon, Instagram and Facebook.
It’s hard not to feel inspired by Carenna and Charné! You can also produce your own Bio-fertilizer and clean cooking gas with a HomeBiogas system. Whether it be for a homestead like Carenna and Charné’s in South Africa or a backyard in a personal home, HomeBiogas has a solution!