At 44th AGM Organic Africa Presents an Exciting Opportunity for the Trust

In 1964 Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld funded an agricultural training school named ‘Kukwanisa’ in the Tsonzo area of Nyanga which was established for small holder farmers in the area. Initially it was an outstandingly successful venture but it was sadly destroyed during the war years. It has been the wish of the NTZ to re-establish the training school.

In 2016 Mr Dominik Collenberg of Organic Africa, in a Joint Venture with Acumen (who undertook the major refurbishment of La Rochelle and now manages the boutique country house), approached the NTZ with a view to enter into a long term successful partnership establishing an agricultural training centre of excellence at La Rochelle.  The centre will offer courses in sustainable organic farming for small scale farmers in southern Africa. Needless to say this is an exciting opportunity for all the organisations involved and for Zimbabwe. So the NTZ was proud to invite Mr Dominik Collenberg to speak at its 44th AGM held on the 29th July 2017. Dominik holds a Masters in Organic Farming and Masters in Economic of Development which means that he has the expertise to implement the proposed project and in addition he has gained many years of experience in his professional field.

 Dominik addressing the meeting


Dominik outlined the proposed project and explained his vision is in alignment with the NTZ one: that an agricultural training centre would be built at La Rochelle and the existing county house would be expanded as per the wishes of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia. The centre would also establish trial plots whereby student would have hands on teaching experience as well. He said that he already had secured an export market for the crops grown by the small scale farmers from a company, who are the world leading herbal tea producer based in Germany. They are a family run business with expertise in mixing premium quality herbal teas, using various extracts such as aniseed and horehound, lemon balm, mint, cinnamon and lemongrass. The extracts are mixed with a selection of botanicals (over 200) to produce herbal and fruit infusions, medicinal teas, flavoured black and green teas, herbal powders, botanicals, herbal, fruit and tea extracts, decaffeinated teas, tea flavours, active phytopharmaceutical ingredients and nutritional supplements. Their end product is sold to tea manufactures such as Lipton.

Only quality products produced by certified production methods and sustainably produced botanicals are needed. The herbal raw materials are grown, harvested and collected in a way that conserves Nature so that the diversity of resources will continue be available to future generations. Of great importance to them is responsible economic activity and they nurture long-term, fair relationships with business partners, insist on controlled, integrated cultivation and promote social and cultural projects.

Dominik then went on to talk about his company called Organic Africa who focus on organic production and said that they are the only company certified in organic fair trade products in Zimbabwe. They are also the only company in southern Africa whereby its small scale farmers have their land certified and so are able to produce high quality herbs for export. Which as you can imagine, is no mean feat!  The certification means that their farmers produce high value crop (low volume) and so they are paid at a premium higher price. He added that most of the farmers are women.

In the past Organic Africa has carried out training of famers under the shelter of a tree, looking to the future they want to build the agricultural training centre will really give them a chance to understand and have hands on practice experience which will lead to more small scale farmers being trained at a high level. The training will show how the farmers can grow crops without using any chemicals or fertilisers and how to make compost according to strict global regulations. They work extensively with all their producers to help them attain Ethical Biotrade, Organic and Fair Trade certification.

Organic Africa invests a lot of time and money in undertaking research into identifying and developing potential commercial applications for indigenous under-utilised species. There are a large number of locally-available plant species that could be used by small-scale farmers, especially in the drier parts of Zimbabwe. They work in collaboration with a wide range of different actors, including private companies, other research organisations, governmental, non-governmental and international organisations, and individual researchers and entrepreneurs. They are also a socially responsible entrepreneurship aiming at producing and marketing high value certified products together with their partner farmers in an ethical and sustainable manner. Organic Africa has tapped into the enormous potential of small-scale organic production, processing and marketing of high value essential oils, herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. Some of the plants have not been grown in Zimbabwe before such as Lemon balm (a member of the mint family).

Dominik mentioned that B’Ayobe, an affiliated company has, in the last year, bought over a 1,000 tons of Baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruit produced by local communities and the money therefore goes into the local communities. This has been of great benefit to producers living in Chimanimani and Chipinge where a) there is not a lot of income and b) especially in the dry season (June and July). Organic Africa understands that the best way to ensure continual economic growth is to enhance lasting social structures within the farming communities, so they engage in many community activities to promote this idea. They have also worked developing Devils claw (Harpagophytum zeyheri/procumbens) in the Hwange area, Rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa) in Binga and also Myrothamnus flabellifolia , the resurrection bush so called for the speed with which apparently dead leaves revive when the rains come. They ensure that all crops are sustainably harvested without having any negative ecological impact

To date, various field test cultivation plots and trials have been conducted at La Rochelle farm including the following:


Calendula has good antibacterial and               Caraway is hardy herb with and       Chamomile, grows well in winter

anti inflammatory properties                              grows well in the the rainy season

Lemon balm, grows well in the rainy                Safflower almost ready to harvest               Stinging nettle, grows well in sunshine  season

Other crops being trialed include two varieties of ginger and three varieties of turmeric anise.

It is clear that the project is in synergy with the vision of the NTZ and Organic Africa and their business partners have a very good reputation for looking after the environment and being socially responsible in their business operations.  Needless to say, Organic Africa presents an exciting opportunity for ensuring the economic viability of La Rochelle, training and supporting small scale farmers, caring for the environment and raising the profile of the NTZ regionally. The NTZ is very privileged to be involved in the proposed project.



Memorial Exhibition: Mr Darrel Plowes 04/04/1925 – 19/10/2016

 91 years – what a fine innings!

A Memorial Exhibition of the lifelong work of Mr Darrel Charles Herbert Plowes organized by National Museums and Monuments Zimbabwe (NMMZ) in association with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare, Zimbabwe, was opened on 19th October 2017, it will run until Christmas.

The exhibition showcases and celebrates Darrel as a person and as a plant collector, orchid specialist, author, scientific researcher, photographer, ornithologist and butterfly collector. The display covers his public and community service work as a Museum Society member, a NMMZ Board member, Cactus and Succulent Society member and long serving, very active and dedicated member of the National Trust of Zimbabwe. Some of his personal items are on display such as his cameras and natural collections.

Darrel in the orchid house at La Rochelle

Invited guests were welcomed to the Mutare Museum by Dr. P. Mupira (below), the Regional Director for National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Eastern Region. The National Trust of Zimbabwe (The Trust) was represented by The Council Chairman David Scott and his wife Shirley and Edone-Ann Logan, the Chairperson of the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition and her husband Aubrey and Mrs Nina Bauer, Membership Secretary.

Mr James Becker (ex-Trust Chair Mutare Committee below) delivered an excellent Homily in Honour of Darrel in which he mentioned that he had the good fortune to have worked closely with both Darrel and his companion Nina Bauer, on the Mutare Trust Committee, responsible for La Rochelle, Fort Gomo and Murahwa’s Hill. They were both honoured with Life Membership, for their amazing effort and contribution to the Trust. Mr Becker gave an interesting historical account of Darrel’s life.

In 1943–1945 Darrel saw active service in latter part of WWII, with the South African, 9th Division, in Italy. After the war, Prof John Phillips from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa canvased Darrel into joining the University on a special Agri-Science course and thus started his career in the Department of Agriculture. In 1949–56 he was posted as Research Officer to Matopos and Nyamandlovu. During the period 1956–82 he was posted to Manicaland, where he rose to the TOP post of Provincial Agricultural Officer. Then in 1982 – 1995 Darrel travelled extensively due to his, second wife’s postings in the USA foreign service, namely Botswana, Sudan, Washington DC, and Chad. Finally in 1995 – 2016 his love of Mutare drew him back here, where he lived to the end.

Darrel’s passion new no bounds, as he had such an amazing interest is so many areas from photography, to plants, insects, birds, minerals etc. Darrel won a photography award for his filming of the Black Eagle at Murahwa’s Hill. He also has the distinction of having many species named after him. His input to this fine museum was enormous, and leaves a fitting legacy to his incredible contribution.

Darrel’s sense of what is RIGHT, FAIR & JUST, coupled with his quiet determined manner, were attributes that were admired by many. He certainly earned their respect and was acknowledged as an authority in so many fields. He was considered a “FINE GENTLEMAN” in every sense of the word, by many who came to know him.

Mr John Meikle (above) then spoke about Darrel and his public service work. Darrel dedicated himself fully to causes he passionately believed in (mainly in the Environmental and Heritage arena)! Darrel was an authority in so many diverse subjects/areas, leaving his mark and name on so many species of fauna and flora etc. His interests were very varied which gave him an amazing knowledge in so many different areas.

Mrs Nina Bauer (above) then and spoke very emotionally about the time she spent with Darrel and shared  Darrel’s final request and word of advice to everyone surviving him:

“Plant Trees, plant more trees, plant more and more trees, just PLANT TREES”!!

Immediately after the tribute speeches a tree planting ceremony took place in the Museum garden, in honour of Darrel. Nina conducted the ceremony.


The exhibition, inside the Museum, was officially opened by Nina cutting the ribbon (above) and then declared open by Ms Muusha (who helped create the exhibition) and who gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the National Gallery. The guests then toured the very interesting tribute exhibition displaying Darrel’s first camera, personal life pictures and his work on fauna and flora, some with his handwritten notes.


Darrel was an invaluable friend of the Trust for a many, many years and a great source of information and of assistance through his long friendship with Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld of La Rochelle when he worked with them on many projects in the early years of La Rochelle.  His knowledge of the property was a great help to the Trust during the recent refurbishment program and we will be eternally grateful for his precious input over the years. A granite plaque acknowledging Darrel’s contribution is being placed by the Trust at La Rochelle where Darrel had spent so much time and where he had been such an influence.

Darrel’s long career before retirement was in agriculture, natural resource management and extension where his contributions were substantial. His extensive interests covered an incredibly wide range of subjects in the fields of natural history, agronomy, entomology, botany and ornithology, to name just a few. The Trust was truly honoured and fortunate to have as an active member, one of the greatest all-round naturalists of Zimbabwe.

Invitation to a Memorial Exhibition of the Lifelong Work of Mr Darrel Plowes

You are cordially invited to a Memorial Exhibition of the lifelong work of Mr Darrel Plowes being organized by National Museums and Monuments Zimbabwe (NMMZ) and the Mutare Art Gallery on 19th October 2017.

The exhibition will showcase and celebrate Darrel as a person and as a plant collector, orchid specialist, author, scientific researcher, photographer, ornithologist and butterfly collector. The display will also cover his public and community service work as a Museum Society member, a NMMZ Board member, Cactus and Succulent Society member and long serving, very active and dedicated member of the National Trust of Zimbabwe. Some of his personal items will be on display.  Dr Mupira  Regional Director of the NMMZ will be one of the guest speakers along with Ms Nina Bauer and Mr Des Becker who are attending as on behalf of the National Trust and well as being close personal friends.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The NTZ wins the International National Trust Organisation Small Grants Programe Award

In 2014 the NTZ decided to undertake an innovative, experimental pilot project for school children to “re-discover their living traditions and identify their cultural roots”. The project focused on heritage education management and based on community participation in terms of their time and materials and provided capacity building for school teachers. A copy of “The Heritage Education Toolkit” used by heritage clubs in secondary schools was kindly given to the NTZ by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda.

The project was drawn up following the guidelines from Uganda, but adapting the details to the Zimbabwean context. The project was championed by Mrs Edone Ann Logan Chairperson of the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition (RNHE). 132 children and 6 teachers, from a secondary school and 2 primary schools, each of which run a Heritage Club, were involved in the project which was the recipient of an International National Trust Organisation (INTO) Small Grants Programme (SGP) fund for which the NTZ was truly appreciative.

The SGP is designed to provide small scale but catalytic support for the international family of INTO member organizations, working on heritage management and related community-led cultural programs.  The primary purpose of the SGP is to build capacity and strengthen governance, membership recruitment and sustainability of INTO members.

The Project gave the RNHE and the NTZ the opportunity of raising public awareness to the value of cultural heritage and the study of the unique prehistory of the area was incorporated into the history and heritage curriculums.  Training guides for the schools involved in the programme were compiled and a display of items/pictures and artifacts took place at the RNHE.

The NTZ now has a proven blueprint for cultural heritage education management that can be replicated in other schools countrywide.  We have seen that schools are keen to encourage the pupils to take an active part in Museum research and displays. We encouraged schools to visit heritage sites in the area and experience hands-on traditional crafts, and most importantly, research their own family histories, collect stories from their grandparents, and find their own identities within their ethnic groups.

We would like to thank Mr W Dhlandhlara of the SOLON Foundation who supported the project and very generously provided funds for the transportation of the school children to the activities and funding the final traditional meal. SOLON also provided each school in the area (60) with a copy of Robert Soper’s ”Terrace Builders of Nyanga”, and the Prehistory Society of Zimbabwe followed by donating Rob Burrett’s “Shadows of our Ancestors” to each school.

The 17th International Conference of National Trust (ICNT) was recently held in Bali and the opportunity to celebrate and review the impact of the INTO SGP was undertaken.  As a past recipient of the SPG we were invited to submit our project into the SGP competition.

Our entry was displayed at the SGP Success Booth set up at the conference to show each project and request each visitor to the Booth to rate the “”Best SGP-supported Project”” from among all previous winners over the past 3 years, rating the Best with a single token vote.

On the final day of the conference (Friday, 15 September 2017) Dame Fiona Reynolds, the INTO Chairman, announced that the NTZ had won the competition!  With over 130 delegates from 30 countries at the conference, including three Executive Council members from the NTZ, we were very proud and excited to have showcased the work that we do in Zimbabwe on a global platform.  Congratulation’s go to Edone Ann Logan and to all her committee members for implementing the project.

David Scott, NTZ Chair accepting the prize from Dame Fiona Reynolds


The NTZ is selected to host the Inaugural Pan Africa Forum Conference

At the 2015 International Conference National Trust held in Cambridge, UK  the Africa Regional Forum was established, the NTZ is a full time member and holds the current Chair.

The vision, mission statement, terms of reference and aims of the INTO Africa Forum are as follows:


A vibrant network of African Heritage Organisations, who are active in protecting and promoting the Continent’s Cultural Heritage.

Mission statement

The INTO Africa Group brings together like-minded National Trusts and Heritage Organisations, from across the Continent to share ideas and resources and to develop a Continent wide voice and influence on heritage matters.

Terms of Reference/Aims and Objectives:

The Group will concern itself with the conservation of natural heritage, intangible and tangible cultural heritage including architectural heritage.

The aims of the group are:

 To enhance communication, share experiences and knowledge between entities existing and operating across Africa in the heritage and cultural fields

 To create a globally influential group of interested African parties for action on heritage matters within and outside of INTO and, where possible, to act as a group in unison, on matters of mutual interest.

To support national entities in their individual activities as an African group or regionally wherever possible and/or required

 To mobilise skills and resources between nations and regions across Africa and, where appropriate, to implement joint projects/activities

 To co-ordinate an African Heritage Day to promote conservation of cultural and natural heritage in and across Africa and to thereby also promote African heritage globally

 To act as a conduit for African heritage organisations that may eventually wish to join INTO eventually

The NTZ responded to a call for proposals to host the Inaugural Pan Africa Forum Conference and we are proud to announce that we won!

NTZ is planning to involve other Zimbabwe organizations involved in the heritage and culture fields includuing the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, National Museums and Monuments Zimbabwe ; UNESCO (Regional Office based in Harare); local Diplomatic Embassies supporting heritage and cultural projects; History Society of Zimbabwe; Environmental NGO’s and Societies etc

The NTZ is looking forward to hosting conference which will result in a powerful network for NTZ and significantly raise the profile of NTZ and of Zimbabwe and assist in future heritage project funding opportunities locally and regionally.

Members of the Africa Forum Committee discussing the conference at the recent International

Conference National Trust held in Bali

La Rochelle: Comments from Visitors

We would like to share a visitor comments and photographs on his recent stay at La Rochelle:

Hi All, I decided to make the most of it and stay at La Rochelle – an up market, rambling, country style homestead 5 minutes down the Penhalonga Road just on the outskirts of Mutare. My first visit and I have been impressed by how well it is being run; the excellent dinners; and the relaxed feel about the place.


The main house had lots of long passageways and a large lounge as was the architecture favoured some 50 plus years ago. Saturday night in the main living room had several families playing games like scrabble and dominoes with their kids –pleasant music playing quietly in the background. There are bookshelves all over the place with books dating back to the early 20th century – I browsed through a few: “A Great Book of Humour” (1935) with short stories from about 30 authors including Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy; and then there was “Echoes of Old Country Life” (1892). I did, of course, have to glance through a more modern “Remarkable Gardens of South Africa!” (2012) lying on the coffee table.


Lounge showing portrait of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia hanging over the fireplace

When the work was done I took off on my Bike for a ride along the backroads – all uphill to my dismay – I ended up traversing what seemed like the Stairways to Heaven – one of those where every corner brings yet another steep rise – still people living way up there with local ladies ascending the hill seemingly unaffected by the heavy buckets on their heads.

One of the lovely aspects of staying at a place like this is that you have a chance to chat to all sorts of interesting people. I had a drink with guy from Sterling in Scotland who was travelling around the country with a couple of mates.

La Rochelle is ideal for either a stopover on the way to or from Mozambique or for a week ago away from the Madding crowd. It is a pleasant drive, just over 3 hours, from Harare. Take time out there soon.

A quote that caught my attention in the Humour Book “ Mrs Wright and Mr Bolt were sipping liqueurs and lingering over that inestimable stage of human companionship when acquaintance is drifting into something higher, wider, nobler, broader, deeper and fuller”! (F.E. Baily  in “Look this Way Babe”). A little more subtle than the likes of “50 shades of Grey”!

Mr Mike Garden, Softrite Accounting Systems

Here are some other recent visitors’ comments that were kindly provided by Mr Garden.


La Rochelle – Have friends who stayed there recently with some Art ladies they really enjoyed the weekend and the lovely gardens.


I used to go to La Rochelle when it was still in the Courtauld family and Lady Courtauld was still alive and we used to have tea on the verandah. The gardens were magnificent. I remember it as being so much bigger and so full of colour back then. I think the Manager is doing a remarkable job. It looks wonderful.

Regards Rose


This was the home of Lord and Lady Courtauld. There should be a statue there to her pet Lima and the round turret was for her stone collection. They had interesting visitors who signed the lounge window. They had so many antiques that Mr Holland refused to value the contents so a valuer was sent out from the UK. They also planted all different trees. Glad to hear it is running well.




Historical footage

Watch the 1957 Royal Tour of Rhodesia on YouTube the footage is around 12 minutes long and towards the end (11.5 minutes) there is some footage of the Courtualds and the Queen Mother taken at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Very interesting.

It is linked to Memories of Rhodesia and produced by the African Film Productions, Johannesburg, SA.

THE 17th International Conference National Trusts


September 11-15, 2017


With the tagline “Our Cultural Heritage, the Key to Environmental Sustainability”, the 17th International Conference of National Trusts (ICNT 17) 2017 expects to bring together 200 + delegates from across the world who will explore the connection between their cultural traditions and concerns for sustainable development. We need to share our experiences, both scientific and practical, on conservation towards a sustainable environment. The ICNT 2017 Bali will elaborate this into concrete and practical solutions, so that local residents can strengthen their culture and improve their quality of life while conserving their environment.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss topics ranging from ways to strengthen culture in a dynamic development process; to managing and promoting it across the world, and to including culture and heritage in development policies and programs. Delegates will also examine the following specific issues:  the impact of economic development on cultural landscapes; the relationship between cultural rights and social development; issues of heritage preservation and poverty; disaster risk forecasting and management; and the impacts of climate change.


The ICNT 2017 will take place in Bali, an island in Indonesia with particularly strong cultural roots.. Religious rules and rituals are embedded in family life, social interactions of all types, arts, occupations, and practical skills. Its rich tradition is also expressed in the integration of culture and the environment.

The five-day conference will be held at Gianyar, one of nine regencies in Bali. The venues include The Republic of Indonesia Palace of Tampaksiring, the Royal Palace of Gianyar, Galleries and Art Space to the old traditional village of Samuan Tiga.


Memorial Bench and plaque in recognition and in celebration of the life of Mr Darrel Plowes

The National Trust was truly honored and fortunate to have Mr Darrel Plowes as an active member who one of the greatest all-round naturalists of Zimbabwe. Following a private family ceremony held in Mutare late last year a memorial bench was donated by Darrel’s family. Last month (June) the bench was placed in the orchid area at La Rochelle which was a place that had special significance to Darrel, since it was Sir Stephen who inspired Darrel’s fondness for orchids, and in turn Darrel has donated the balance of his collection back to La Rochelle.   The bench was designed and made by Gary Goss, a well known local artist, and now visitors can sit and pause and reflect on the beauty of the orchids.

Darrel lived such an incredibly rich life and he was a key link between the present and past of La Rochelle – both with the Courtauld Family and the botanicals – particularly the orchids (Harvey Leared).

The inscription on the brass plaque on the backrest of the bench reads as follows:

Darrel C.H.Plowes


Loving father, friend of the Courtaulds and natural historian extraordinaire

“He may now have ended his never finishing work but will always keep on inspiring me and many others for the remainder of our lives. Whether professional scientist or amateur enthusiast, we owe a great debt to his unrelenting search for knowledge and understanding of the natural world.”

Bart Wursten, Flora of Tropical Africa

The National Trust had a memorial plaque for Darrel, made from black granite, which will be placed in the grounds of La Rochelle later this year.

We are all richer for having known Darrel Plowes. We give thanks for the wonderfully inspiring life of this man and his love of all creation.

Competition: International National Trust Organisation to promote Heritage Education!

The NTZ is a proud member of the International National Trust Organisation and our colleagues John and Emily from the ‘Cross-Cultural Foundation’ of Uganda developed a concept for a project reflecting their conviction that we must focus much of our work on the youth and a desire to share the lessons they have learned from their work to support “Heritage Clubs” in (now over 100) Ugandan secondary schools in the past few years.

“The idea behind the project is to ensure that young people from Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Uganda develop a better       appreciation of the diverse heritage across the continent and become more effective in its preservation, through an electronic platform/ learning network related to heritage conservation and to strengthen the skills of our organisations in delivering more effective Heritage Education programmes for youth in a globalised, but diverse world”

(John De Coninck, Programme Advisor)

Following this idea the first ever crowdfunding campaign was launched by INTO on Monday 14th November 2016 at 2pm GMT to raise as much money as possible from as many donors as possible in five weeks.  The project page can be found at

The good news is that the threshold goal of £2,500 was successfully reached with the assistance of Global Giving and we have earnt a place in their crowd funding community!

As part of the global family of National Trusts The National Trust of Zimbabwe would like you to get involved too!

I love my Heritage!

Show the world Zimbabwe’s unique heritage!

Cash Prizes!

If you are under 20 years and a heritage club member in an Nyanga Secondary School in Zimbabwe then you are invited to join heritage clubs in Sierra Leone and Uganda in a competition to share an experience or activity of your heritage club, which you feel is exciting:

  1. Submit a 2-3 minute video clip taken on a phone or camera depicting an exciting experience/ activity related to heritage.
  2. Write half a page (about 250 words) explaining your video clip.
  3. Submit your entry on a flash drive or memory card to your Principal or Heritage Teacher, who will submit it to Faith at the Nyanga Library or Marshall at Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition (Museum).

You will be invited to present your entry to a panel of judges on 20 September 2017 at the Rhodes Hall, Nattional Park.

Winners receive cash prizes!

Your video may be publicised nationally and used by the International National Trust Organisation to promote Heritage Education!

DEADLINE: 14TH SEPTEMBER  (first week of 3rd term)

For further details please email:

Thank you, we look forward to receiving your entries.