The cross pollination of fungi and fowls

A Belgian chicken artist and a Zimbabwean social entrepreneur find ways to work together through chickens and mushrooms.

Part of the event

Belgian conceptual designer Koen Vanmechelen has teamed up with Zimbabwean social entrepreneur and activist Chido Govera to create an ecosystem of chickens and mushrooms that help lift people out of poverty.

Vanmechelen is internationally renowned for his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, which deals with ideas of bicultural diversity and identity. He first met Govera when she visited his studio.

The first collaboration between the two centred around the CosmoGolem, a huge wooden sculpture in the shape of a man that Vanmechelen created as a symbol of hope and evolution. Viewers interact with the CosmoGolem by depositing their dreams and wishes into his heart space. Govera took the CosmoGolem to Zimbabwe to do workshops with the Foundation of Hope and children whose lives had been tainted by moment of struggle. 

“I grew up as an orphan, this is why I am so passionate about working with vulnerable, young orphans and communities,” explains Govera.

Govera learnt how to grow mushrooms using agricultural waste at age 11, and began to use to mushrooms to lift herself out of poverty. 

Ideas for a partnership deepened between the two when they realised the opportunity they had to pair the chickens and the mushrooms in an ecosystem of empowerment. 

Left over mushrooms are fed to chickens, the chicken waste is used to fertilise the mushrooms. Thus a mutually beneficial relationship was born. 

Koen Vanmechelen and Chido Govera will be speaking at Design Indaba 2017.