Matt Kroll is one of the founding members of the Green Net, having been involved from the beginning, initially as advisor and installateur of built-in or mobile solar power units and now mainly as consultant and practical activist and philanthropist on sustainable robust food gardening. During the past 2 years Matt Kroll’s focus has been on building a foodscape demo garden as proof of concept at his residence at Lot 491 Eighth Street, Port Edward, KZN. Matt’s dream is to build an off-grid skills base to aid in creating food-, energy- and water-security as well as shelter solutions. Over the years his skills, knowledge and practical experience in multiple disciplines have grown immensely e.g. solar power, natural building, bio-diesel, waterless sanitation, wood gas technology, solar convection cooling, waterworks, food gardening, metal- and woodwork, concrete, automotive, electrical, kiln-building, ferro-cement sculpting, mechanical, machinery, construction, technical drawing and 3D design, renovation and home improvement and more, as you will see. Matt’s Vuka Valley website is still a work in progress, intended as an encyclopaedic resource of vlogs and tutorials.
How did Vuka Valley come into existence – and how has it impacted your life?
Since 2005 I’ve exposed myself to a broad spectrum of disciplines in sustainability & artisanry. I was determined to learn all the skills needed to build anything I wanted but materials are expensive, so I always looked for ways to make it achievable with recycled & local resources.
Our society relies on outside forces to solve our Water problems, Food security issues, Energy expenses & lack of safe housing, when the solutions to all these problems literally lie at our feet if we look closely.
Vuka Valley came about as a wake up call to inspire the public to realise & be exposed to ways in which we can use recycled & local resources to create our own food security, water security, energy security, safe shelter & a means to generate an income.
The Vuka Valley model does not rely on profit to be sustainable, instead it is based on a principle of living through sharing skills & access to facilities in order to inspire others to adopt these principles & copy these approaches as a means to ‘pass it forward’.
How has this impacted my life? Almost everything that you pay someone else to do, I am able to do & have done it at a fraction of the cost. Vuka Valley wants everyone to be empowered in the same way.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
I have a theme song … It’s my own instrumental rendition of ‘Summertime’ on almost every YouTube video that I post on my ‘Vuka Valley’ Channel.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I invested my entire inheritance in a financial co-operative that is now not able to pay me out, & my plans to buy land & start building the Vuka Valley Resource Centre are on hold.
If Mars were liveable, would you accept a one way ticket there?
No, our planet Earth has so much diversity that can sustain us regarding Food, Water, Energy & Shelter. It takes a certain type of person to choose to be protected from the vast void of space or predominantly unknown, hostile planet by a thin walled life support vessel with limited resources. Earth will be a far safer bet for many years to come, provided we start doing things right & we are, just very slowly.
If you were given one thousand acres of land what would you do with it?
I would create a thousand 1 acre Utopias that are all interlinked, liberating nature’s abundance, protecting its diversity, and thereby creating a massive ‘spill-over’ effect in Food Security, Water Security, Energy Security & Safe Shelter for a population far exceeding the occupants inside of that 1,000 acres.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
I am a gatherer but I can hunt. Much like a warrior in a garden, not a gardener at war.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Home-made sandals, gumboots & workshop boots
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Starters: Home-grown amaqanda (eggs) & amadumbe (taro) hashbrowns with mamtamati wezinyoni (wild cherry tomato) & basil.
Mains: Home-grown grilled amabatata (sweet potato) & amazambane (potato) with fried amathanga (pumpkin) & ubhonshisi (beans) accompanied by incadolo (blackjack spinach) with amapelepele (peppers).
Dessert: Home-grown papaya, banana, granadilla & maas smoothie with mint leaf garnish.
How would people communicate in a perfect world?
Be the first to greet & smile. Allow others to finish speaking & make eye contact often. Always add value when you speak. Place others’ needs alongside your own. Never compromise others or harbour detrimental intent.
When you have 30 minutes of free time – how do you pass it?
After coffee & a smoke, I would walk around in the garden & look at the condition of all the plants & animals in it. They are the first to let me know where & how I can make a positive adjustment.
If you woke up to 300 unread emails, how would you prioritise which ones to answer?
I have more than 300 unread emails. I only respond to opportunities, clients & friends.
Where do you go and what do you do to find peace and recharge?
I play loud music to dance in my garden & pick fruit.
If you could know the absolute answer to one question, what question would you ask?
How do I find the assistance I seek to liberate, in the fastest way possible, all the potential I see in my mind’s eye?
If you could write one new law that everybody had to obey, what would it be?
I would start an optional, national initiative in which people and companies alike can be reimbursed with up to 5% of their income spent on establishing ‘free food pavement gardens’. This would allow the everyday citizen to do what companies do by investing in social responsibility initiatives whilst not donating to NGOs. Instead, from the poorest to the richest, everyone can invest in food security in their street, be paid back for their efforts & have food to eat at the same time. There would be far fewer hungry kids on their way to school.
What, if anything, have you ever re-gifted?
I have been given materials, equipment & furniture which I have handed on to those who needed it more immediately than I did.
What is the most interesting thing you have seen or read this week?
My son, Gabriel, told me that foxes giggle at each other for pack bonding & it’s called ‘chatting’.
What skill or craft would you like to master?
I have not yet tried glass blowing, forging, bee keeping, goat dairy culture, mushroom growhouse, etc., or done enough musical instrument making, jewelry crafting, ceramics, special tool designs, etc.
If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?
To motivate & inspire a complacent yet hungry, shackled society entrained to believe they need to remain dependent on & connected to outside entities to ensure security in food, water, energy, shelter & a means of income.