Bringing the Gansbaai community together for young children

What does it mean to pick Fynbos sustainably?

There are a couple of things you should do – and some things you really shouldn’t do, when picking Fynbos if you’re wanting to pick responsibly.

For the past 15 years, Flower Valley has been working on, improving and further refining these steps – to make it as simple as possible for you.

Here are 10 harvesting guidelines to steer you in the right direction

(these guidelines are for you IF you enjoy picking Fynbos for yourself in small quantities. There are a couple of extra guidelines if you’re picking large quantities for the market).

1. THE RIGHT PERMITS

You need to get a permit from CapeNature to pick the Fynbos. If the Fynbos is on someone else’s land, you also need an agreement with that landowner. (Remember, flora carries the same weight legally as protected animals. So if you want to remove protected plants, you need a permit.)

2: SELECT WHAT TO PICK

Decide what you’ll be picking, and be sure it’s included on your permit. Then be sure to pick the right species, given that so many species look alike.

3: USE CLEAN AND SHARP TOOLS

Secateurs and sickles should be sharp and clean. Why? Sharp tools help to avoid splitting stems, which could allow water to penetrate the stems and could cause rot. Clean tools help to prevent spreading disease. One plant may have a disease, which you then spread to a healthy plant. This could impact on Fynbos populations.

4: CARING FOR THE VELD AROUND YOU

You should still care for all plants across the Cape Floral Kingdom. So be careful not to break and uproot plants as you walk and drive. And try to use only existing roads, instead of driving over pristine Fynbos.

5: CUT ONLY HALF THE FLOWER HEADS

Flower Valley recommends that you leave flower heads and cones, so that the plant can reproduce and spread naturally the next year. If a fire comes through a Fynbos veld, you also need enough seed to stay behind to spread naturally.

6: HARVEST EVENLY

This means you spread the cuts around the plant (as opposed to just harvesting one side of a plant). If you don’t cut evenly, you could create exposed areas on the plant that may make it vulnerable to poor weather conditions.

7: CHECK WHERE YOU CUT

This step is relevant for single stemmed plants (like the Phaenocoma).  Cut the stem ABOVE a few shoots. This ensures those shoots can grow out after you’ve cut the plant.

8: CUT AT AN ANGLE

Why? By cutting at an angle, you allow water to run off the cut. If water can’t run off a cut, it could end up rotting the stem.

9: DON’T CUT INTO OLD GROWTH

This is quite a technical step that’s only relevant to species such as Proteas and Leucadendrons, because they die from the bottom up when they’re old. If you cut into the dead growth of these species, no stems will grow from these cuts. So it’s important to only cut into living stems to give the plant a chance to re-grow from that stem.

10: DON’T LEAVE LITTER BEHIND

If you’re a plant lover, you’re unlikely to do this. Litter is obviously detrimental to all the Fynbos animals (think: bailing twine around a Blue Crane’s leg).

The importance of being responsible with our Fynbos heritage.

When you pick Fynbos (for yourself or for the market at a larger scale), chances are you’d like to know whether you’re damaging or helping the veld.

That’s why the Sustainable Harvesting Programme started (in 2003): to provide a toolkit of sustainable practices in the fynbos industry, to support those who pick fynbos for markets.

If partners can help manage the land properly and address invasive alien plants, we can together help ensure a lush, vibrant Fynbos landscape, and help prevent Fynbos extinctions. Find out more about our Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

Picking Fynbos responsibly: A journey of improvement

Building capacity of Fynbos harvesters is at the heart of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

We have been revisiting some of our key members to refresh their sustainable harvesting practices and teach them some of the new methods and tools we have developed recently.

This process is to ensure that members are continuously improving and kept up to date with the latest research.

In the past two weeks, we’ve provided capacity building to 30 Fynbos harvesters working in natural Fynbos landscapes.

These harvesters pick Fynbos for Lourens Boerdery – a packshed that is a long-time member and supporter of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

Our focus for capacity building is on:

 

  • How to pick Fynbos responsibly (as per the Code of Best Practice);
  • And how to monitor harvesting practices (using the i-Fynbos app).

THE AIM IS TO TRAIN AND WORK WITH AROUND 100 FYNBOS HARVESTERS ACROSS THE CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM.

 

It’s part of our support to members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

This year alone, Flower Valley’s footprint will stretch across 75,000 hectares of natural Fynbos landscapes through the programme.

This training is supported by the University of Newcastle and the University of Durham.

 

Give 67 minutes to protect Fynbos (while enjoying a hike)

What are you doing for your 67 minutes this Mandela Day? Here’s one idea: Join the Southern Overberg Botanical Society, as they enjoy a hike on our Flower Valley Farm – cutting down small invasive alien plants as they walk. 

 

Mandela Day is on Thursday, 18 July. The combined Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Southern Overberg BotSoc event takes place in the late morning, from 10am. It will take hikers through some of the most unique, special and pretty Fynbos landscapes. 

Here’s the programme:

  • Following a welcome and a chat about invasive species, you’ll receive a short induction on clearing alien species in field.
  • Then your 67 minutes start, clearing invasive species while walking through our Fynbos.
  • Join us for tea and coffee afterwards.
  • Or bring your own picnic and enjoy our Fynbos for the rest of the day.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIGGER

The combined Mandela Day event forms part of a bigger collaboration between Flower Valley and the Southern Overberg BotSoc. This will see Flower Valley Farm become a ‘garden’ of the branch, allowing branch members free access to the farm (non-members currently pay R50 to hike on the farm).

For more information on the Mandela Day event on Flower Valley Farm, or to join and give 67 minutes of your time to conservation, email: mitch@flowervalley.co.za by Tuesday, 16 July.  

Unati’s role: A makeover for our gardens

The gardens at Flower Valley’s former pre-school are about to receive a makeover.

The site will be used to bring pre-school children in touch with nature. And the job of transforming and maintaining the gardens falls to a new Flower Valley recruit, Unati Siyotula. 

Unati completed her National Diploma in Horticulture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in 2017. She completed in-service training at a nursery in George, and at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens. In 2017 she also received full-time employment at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens as a gardening assistant. Here she was responsible for maintenance, propagation and leading tours. 

Unati says she sees her new role at Flower Valley as a challenge, and as an opportunity to grow. “I came from a small garden, and when I drove into Flower Valley Farm, I thought: ‘Wow’.” 

We welcome Unati to the team – and look forward to seeing how the gardens are transformed. 

New Assistant Farm Manager for Flower Valley

Flower Valley Farm welcomes a new assistant farm manager to the team – Mitch Afrika.

Mitch completed his Bachelor of Sciences in Conservation Ecology (NQF level equivalent to honours) at Stellenbosch University. He completed the Leadership for change and Graduate programme through the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development.

Originally from Robertson, Mitch made his move to the Overberg from Franschhoek – where he worked as the Environmental intern at Boschendal Wine Estate. Here his responsibilities included alien clearing management, habitat protection, trail maintenance and compost making.  

Mitch brings an extra set of skills to Flower Valley Farm: his love for teaching.

He has worked closely with the Maties Community Service at Stellenbosch University (as an Eendrag Community Service member), to teach basic skills to primary and high school learners. He is also a keen photographer.

Mitch undertakes a number of roles on Flower Valley Farm, including support in managing the farm, maintaining trails, and hosting tourists on the farm.

We’re very excited to have Mitch on the team and wish him only the best with his new journey.

Come for a fynbos-filled hike on Flower Valley Farm and Mitch would love to welcome you! 

Next steps to rid the Overberg of invasive plants

A new invasive alien clearing programme is ready to
launch in the Overberg. 

The project is an Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) project, implemented by Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

Flower Valley has secured just short of R12-million over the next 3 years from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

This project follows up on invasive alien clearing work undertaken in the Overberg over the past 8 years – since the launch of the ABI project. In the project this year, we’ll target:

  • 4,655 hectares of follow up clearing;
  • And 1,039 hectares of initial clearing.
  • It will also create 16,768 person days of work this year.

The implementation plan is based on a partnership model.

Flower Valley works with conservancies and other land user groups to roll out the project. We’re working with 9 such groups in this round.  

That means landowners must be a member of a land user group to qualify for clearing support. This allows conservancy-wide clearing plans to address invasive species challenges across the landscape, with crucial areas prioritised.

In this project, Flower Valley works closely with the Land User Group representative. But the Trust will also work closely with each landowner who agrees to join the project, as well as with the elected contractors.

Over the past 8 years, the partnership has learnt a number of lessons that will be addressed in this round.

The quality of the clearing is essential.

And that requires closer monitoring – both from the landowner (or his/her elected representative), as well as by the Flower Valley team.

The DEA-funded project also requires a strong administrative support team. While DEA funds support the clearing work and transport of the contractors, they do not support the admin requirements.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO LANDOWNERS JOINING THE PROJECT?

 

  • All clearing salaries and transport costs are covered.
  • Herbicide assistance is provided.
  • The Flower Valley team ensures best practice standards are implemented, in terms of health & safety, and herbicide use.
  • Working with the Land User Groups, the Trust pulls together the Annual Plan of Operations.
  • We advise each contractor on each site that will be cleared.
  • And we monitor and assess the quality on completion.
  • The Trust’s team also supplies detailed maps and datasets on treatment-areas.
  • And the Flower Valley team serves as the communication touchpoint with DEA.

Landowners who choose to join the project pay an administrative fee, to cover these service costs.

For more, contact your Land User Group representative, or speak to Stanley Engel. Email: stanley@flowervalley.co.za; or Tel. 028 425 2218.

The project is co-funded by the Drakenstein Trust and Millennium Trust. 

4 Pollinator-friendly tips (for Endangered Species Day)

Pollinators are in the headlines right now – for all the WRONG reasons.

Insects in particular face a challenging future. Half a million insect species face extinction (this is according to new research by 500 of the world’s top scientists, presented by the United Nations).

For World Endangered Species Day, we’re putting the spotlight on pollinators. How? We took to the single-track paths on Flower Valley Farm, in search of pollinators (and other flying creatures).

Because these birds, insects and critters provide the base of many of the world’s ecosystems (and have been for the past 400 million years). And if these systems stop working, we’re in trouble. (For example, the UN report notes that 75% of food crops rely on animal pollination.)

Both these bird species are endemic to Fynbos. That makes this habitat essential for their survival.

(And the most interesting: A recent study on Flower Valley Farm found these sunbirds and sugarbirds hardly ever bicker over territories.)

Fresh flies: These flies feed on mostly dung and dead mammals. But some Fynbos plants, like Ceratocaryum argenteum, have seeds with a specific scent. And this scent deceives Fresh flies (of the Sarcophagidae family) to settle on the seeds.

The Orange breasted sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea): These Fynbos pollinators were extremely active (this one was actually taking a glorious bath). They were feeding mostly on the flowering Erica species. They’re about to head into breeding season.

Honeybee: You couldn’t miss the buzzing sound on your adopted patch. The Honeybees were mostly drawn to the Erica williamsiorum (this species is Vulnerable and flowering now). Because they forage on nectar and pollen, they’re essential pollinators. 

The Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer): We didn’t get any great photos during our Adopt a Hectare feedback (this is an old picture on flowering Pincushions). But they frequently flitted across our path. They usually feed on the nectar of Mimetes (cucullatus).

Of course we saw loads more flying creatures during our feedback, like the Cape Autumn Widow (Dira Clytus Clytus) and a Leaf Beetle (Galerucinae). 

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE PART OF THE CHANGE? HERE ARE 4 TIPS:

 

1. Plant indigenous bee-friendly plants in your garden, supplying nectar and pollen for butterflies, bees and birds in your area. 

2. Create a small water bath in your garden, add some rocks to it ensuring the smaller insects don’t drown. 

3. Support local by buying raw honey from trusted beekeepers. 

4. Educate yourself and those around you on these endangered species, so that you can become more aware and maybe help in a situation going forward. 

Flower Valley’s latest news

Flower Valley News

Sixteen years: That’s how long this wonderful Flower Valley journey has been for me. From CapeNature, to WWF-South Africa, and finally, to have had these years with Flower Valley Conservation Trust – I’ve enjoyed every moment working to protect our natural world.

From 1 June, my role at Flower Valley will be changing. And Roger Bailey (our current Operations Director) takes over as Acting Executive Director. 

My focus now shifts to Fundraising & Partnership Development. As a public benefit organisation, we depend on both.

We can ONLY protect Fynbos landscapes and livelihoods in South Africa by working with partners like you. 

Right now, one partnership we urgently need is one that will ensure the doors of the only pre-school in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach, stay open. This Early Childhood Development Centre (“Dolfyntjies”) cares for 28 children aged 3 to 5. They only have 2 months before their funding runs dry.

Can you help? All the info is here.

Of course I’m still part of the Flower Valley team but it remains for me to say thank you for the 16 amazing years that I’ve had as Executive Director with the privilege of working with you. I look forward to continuing to do so in my new role.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,

Lesley

 

3 essential children’s stories for early childhood years

Some books and fables stay with you for the rest of your life (even if you hear them as a young child).

These are stories to capture the imagination, or tales that share knowledge, values and ideas.

Why is it so important for children to hear these stories? Well, it’s not so much about the lesson of each story.

It’s rather what the story does to each individual child, ultimately helping the child create a greater sense of awe and wonder about his and her world, while also equipping the child with the building blocks of their language.

Some of these stories are captured in the Milkwood Learning Programme – our Early Childhood Development Programme curriculum created for children up to 4 years old.

On World Children’s Book Day, our Flower Valley Early Childhood Development team choose their three favourites from the programme (stories with an environmental touch). And explain why these fables simply haven’t aged.

1. THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

You’ll know this story: The Tortoise, who has been ridiculed by the Hare for being too slow, finally challenges the Hare to a race. When the race starts, the Hare leaves the poor Tortoise behind. But while the Hare takes a nap during the race, the Tortoise sneaks past, and – to the Hare’s anger and surprise – wins the race.

This is one of Aesop’s Fables – a storyteller (and slave) who is believed to have lived in ancient Greece (born in 620 BC).

What could the story teach you? Well, that depends on your interpretation. But whether it encourages perseverance, ingenuity, doggedness or less haste (on the part of the Tortoise), or teaches against idleness, bullying or too much haste (on the part of the Hare), this story has captured children’s hearts for centuries.

2: THE ENORMOUS TURNIP

Also known as The Giant Turnip, this is a Russian fable by Alexei Tolstoy. Today there are many different versions of the story – with different teachings.

The story: A farmer and his family try to pull out a giant turnip, but to no avail. They bring in support, in the form of the dog, the cat, a hen and a duck to help. But still the turnip remains rooted in the ground. Finally, a small mouse lends his support – and they manage to pull the turnip out. When they feast on the turnip, those who refused to help (like the fox) are not invited.

What could the story teach you? Not many stories capture the importance of eating your vegetables. The fable also teaches that your size does not dictate your significance. And it captures the importance of being a team player.

3. THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

This story, by Eric Carle, has captured the imagination of children since 1969. That’s not only for the story; but as much the beautiful and original graphics (which won numerous prizes).

The story: The Hungry Caterpillar tells of a young caterpillar that eats his way through many meals – from apples to a lollipop. Finally, the now rather fat caterpillar spins a cocoon, and two weeks later emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

What could the story teach you? Young children are introduced to the days of the week, different food types, and of course, the life cycle of the butterfly. In fact, the book has been classified as one of the greatest childhood classics of all time.

Some storytelling tips:

  • While it’s good for children to be exposed to stories in different languages, the majority of stories should be read to a child in their mother tongue. This helps to entrench the building blocks of their mother tongue language first. 
  • It’s also important for stories to be repeated to children, as they digest a story each time they hear it and develop a deeper meaning.
  • There’s no right or wrong way for a child to interpret a story. The child may take something from a story that the adult may not recognise.

And get your children to engage with a story by asking lots of who, what, why and where questions. Again, there is no correct or incorrect answer, it just depends on how the child has processed the story.

We’re hiring: 2 ECD positions available

Flower Valley Conservation Trust is an NGO situated in the Agulhas Region. The Trust works to protect Fynbos landscapes, improve livelihoods and nurture young children and women.

The Trust is now offering 2 opportunities in the Early Childhood Development Programme:

  1. Food Security and Gardens Coordinator
  2. Learning Programme Coordinator

 

FOOD SECURITY AND GARDENS COORDINATOR 

Job purpose

To establish and maintain food, discovery gardens and trails on the Flower Valley Farm and conduct food security capacity building within the home and centre based Early Childhood Development Programme.

Job functions

  1. Work with ECD team to plan and set up gardens and trails as an integrated part of the Milkwood Learning Programme;
  2. Manage, maintain and develop the gardens and trails;
  3. Manage Early Childhood food security project;
  4. Build capacity within the family and ECD centre based context for increased food security and improved nutrition for young children;
  5. Explore micro enterprise development opportunities within the gardens context.

Minimum qualifications & experience

  • Minimum of 3 years’ experience in food growing and gardening;
  • Computer literacy (MS Office);
  • Excellent health and physically fit;
  • Passion to work on a community-based level relating to food security and environmental education;
  • Ability to manage a small team;
  • Good interpersonal skills, communication and self-governance;
  • Ability to train and transfer skills;
  • Valid driver’s license and own vehicle;
  • Preference given to candidates with experience and or qualification/training in organic/regenerative agriculture, permaculture and horticulture.

Deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2019

Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to ecdadmin@flowervalley.co.za or fax 028 425 2855. For more information, contact 079 100 5817 during office hours.

 

2. CENTRE BASED LEARNING PROGRAMME COORDINATOR

Job purpose

To coordinate the Milkwood programme, a 0 – 4 years’ play-based learning programme, in regard to curriculum, on-going programme reviews and development, coaching, training and teacher development and supporting centres and learning resource access and praxis.

Job functions

  1. Develop and implement plans with ECD team for coaching, training and teachers’ professional support and manage centre based professional development processes related to the Milkwood Learning Programme;
  2. Implement monitoring and evaluation of the Milkwood Learning Programme;
  3. Work with the ECD team to integrate the outdoor class and food security components into the centre based Milkwood Learning Programme implementation;
  4. Facilitate the Milkwood Flower Valley outdoor classroom;
  5. On-going curriculum and learning programme development (working with the Programme Manager and Home Based Coordinator);
  6. Plan and facilitate professional development workshops and opportunities for teachers/practitioners and field workers;
  7. Work with relevant stakeholders and partners to ensure the appropriate resourcing, equipping, management and appropriate use of the centres’ indoor and outdoor learning environments and holistic development of ECD practitioners.

Minimum qualifications & experience

  • Degree or Diploma in ECD;
  • A minimum of 2 years’ teaching or ECD experience;
  • Physically fit and able;
  • Computer literacy (MS Office);
  • Passion to work at a community-based level and contribute to positive social and environmental change;
  • Passion for young children and their rightful place in the world;
  • Good interpersonal skills, communication and self-governance;
  • Ability to train, coach and mentor adults;
  • Interest and love for the natural environment (experience in Environmental Education a benefit);
  • Valid driver’s license and own vehicle.

Deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2019

Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to ecdadmin@flowervalley.co.za or fax 028 425 2855. For more information, contact 079 100 5817 during office hours.