Science writer. Author. Trainer. Public speaker.

Leonie uses different storytelling approaches to wander through the often unmapped terrain faced by all of us as we find ways to live together on an ever more tightly packed planet: climate, energy, environmental change, and hunger and malnutrition in the world of Big Food. Mostly, her stories try to give voice to a silenced environment, and the social injustices of a society where the divide between rich and poor has never been greater.  

She has spent the better part of 15 years exploring these topics through books, journalism, communication's support to academics and civil society organisations, and non-fiction creative writing. 

Big Food, and how the food system makes us sick, heavy, and hungry

Leonie is preoccupied with food. Specifically that we live in a world where we're surrounded by food, often produced by Big Food, and yet there is still so much hunger and malnutrition around us. She'd specifically interested in how capitalism has corrupted the food system to the point that so many people are hungry and heavy. It's not that people are making bad food choices, it's that they're trapped in a system that's stacked against them. 

She hopes this will produce her next book: Cheap Junk. 

Portfolio at a glance

Leonie's books include Scorched, Boiling Point, Invaded, and The Hungry Season. She also contributed to Max du Preez’ Opinion Pieces by South African Thought Leaders

She was the 2007 Ruth First Fellow, was listed in the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans You Must Take To Lunch (2008), and was named the 2009 SAB Environmental Journalist of the Year (print/internet category).

Like most freelancers, her work has been published widely in the SA media and abroad, including in the Sunday Independent, Mail & Guardian, Sunday Argus, Sunday Tribune, African Decisions, Africa Geographic, Getaway, Progress, Business Day’s EarthYear, Farmers Weekly, Engineering News, Cape Times, SA4×4, Xplore and the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, amongst others.

Once, in another life, she wrote about wine and even contributed to the John Platter Wine Guide in 2007. And in 2005 she co-authored the new Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Prince Edward Islands Special Nature Reserve.

Leonie has a Bachelor of Journalism & Media Studies from Rhodes University and a Masters in Journalism from Stellenbosch University.


Praise for Scorched
Scorched is a stimulating read, mostly because of the author’s metaphoric and often poetic style of writing … More importantly, it makes you want to do something about global warming.’ – Don PinnockGetaway magazine
‘Meticulous in its research, the information [in Scorched] is presented in a refreshing and surprisingly humorous style – better, even, than Tim Flannery [author of The Weather Makers] or Al Gore.’ – Duncan Butchart,

When she's not at her desk

  © Michael Groenewald

© Michael Groenewald

Like many of the people from the Eastern Cape, Leonie is an economic migrant into Cape Town. But after nearly 16 years, feels like she’s earned her citizenship to the mother city. Her relationship with the South Easter and the scruffy-looking fynbos was acrimonious at first, after years of the misty grasslands and Tolkienesque forests of Hogsback where her family has lived for three decades. But writing about how this extraordinary landscape came to be eventually softened the harder edges of it for her. Now, she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Leonie burns off nervous energy pounding her way up the peninsula’s beautiful mountains, although the views never allow one to forget the disparities in this historic and diverse cityscape.