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.

 

Meet our contractor, Martina Appolis

Martina Appolis realised early in her career that she wanted to be a small business owner. So working her way up over time, Martina registered as a contractor in 2013.

 

Today she works with Flower Valley Conservation Trust and the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to clear emerging invaders on the Agulhas Plain.

She has had to make use of innovative new techniques to clear Kangaroo Paw, Mauritian Hemp and Australian Bottlebrush. And Martina and her team have collected data on the new invasives – and shared their findings with SANBI.

Why does she love this work?

Because she can see the difference it makes in the lives of those she works with. And because it’s given her the chance to show that women can do this job – and do it well.

Martina chats to Flower Valley’s Stanley Engel on International Women’s Day, giving advice to women entrepreneurs. And suggesting how women can work in ways that men simply can’t.

Position: Assistant Farm Manager for Flower Valley Farm

Flower Valley Conservation Trust is an NGO situated in the Agulhas Region with a key focus on improving livelihoods and natural resource management for the conservation of Fynbos. At the centre of the Trust is the Flower Valley Farm, near Gansbaai, consisting of 540Ha of pristine fynbos. The farm showcases good land use management, and provides a platform for research, monitoring and learning for the activities of the organisation. A wonderful opportunity is available for an Assistant Farm Manager to contribute towards conservation.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Ensure update and implementation of the farm management plan.
  • Ensure that all infrastructure (buildings, roads, hiking trails, boardwalks and water transfer systems) on the farm is well maintained.
  • Maintain an up to date register and maintenance schedule for all farm assets.
  • Create and maintain firebreaks in accordance with the farm management plan that meets legal compliance.
  • Ensure that preparation work for control burns are met and assist with fire management on the farm.
  • Manage and keep accurate records of assets, herbicide control and petrol usages on the farm.
  • Ensure that the farm meets all health and safety compliances.
  • Ensure that all signage on the farm is in place and well maintained.
  • Meet guests and visitors to the farm.
  • Provide and coordinate logistical support for ecotourism activities where required to visitors & guests for example, fynbos tours and tractor rides
  • Supervise all farm staff directly involved in the operational duties of the farm, and any other people contracted in for specialised services such as fynbos harvesting, building contractors and invasive alien contracting teams.
  • General office duties relating to the above activities.

 

REQUIREMENTS

  • Dynamic and creative person who enjoys being outdoors, as well as working with people.
  • Must be practical and hands-on to assist with the day-to-day activities.
  • Previous experience in maintenance of infrastructure or permaculture.
  • An appropriate qualification in Nature Conservation, Agriculture or FGASA training.
  • Good computer literacy skills.
  • Knowledge of fynbos and local indigenous forests.
  • Good knowledge and experience with fynbos fires.
  • Experience with data collection for ongoing monitoring.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license. A PDP and EB license will be an advantage.
  • Experience in driving a tractor and trailer.
  • Speak at least two of South Africa’s official languages.
  • Confident to engage with the public and showcase the work done on the farm.
  • Pro-active and self-motivated individual.

Salary package will be discussed based on an individual’s experience. A job competency test may be done before an individual is appointed.

Apply by submitting your CV and a motivation letter to fynbos@flowervalley.co.za by the 12th of March 2019.

 

Tips on how to remove 3 new invasive plant species

It’s quite simply not that easy to remove any invasive alien plant. Each species requires a different technique to try to prevent it from re-growing.

The same applies to three ‘new’ and emerging invasive alien plant species found to be growing on the Agulhas Plain: Kangaroo Paw, Mauritian Hemp and Australian bottlebrush.

The species are now being cut down and removed by a Flower Valley alien clearing team, partnering with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

Here are practical tips to – as successfully as possible – remove these plants, and prevent them from spreading.

1. KANGAROO PAW (Anigozanthos flavidus)

If the Kangaroo Paw plants are in dense stands, SANBI advises the careful use of herbicide (but extreme care must be taken to prevent spray drift, which could affect other species). Where plants are pulled out, the biomass must be placed on large black plastic sheets, and then they must be sprayed again with herbicide, to enhance decay.

2: MAURITIAN HEMP (Furcraea foetida)

The leaves of the Mauritian Hemp must be slashed, before it is foliar-sprayed. Without this step, the plant may not take in the herbicide. Again, care must be taken to prevent spray-drift when applying the herbicide.

3: AUSTRALIAN BOTTLEBRUSH (Melaleuca linearis)

Small plants should be hand pulled – although you must ensure that the roots are removed. Where the trees are cut down, herbicide must be applied to the stump immediately after cutting down the plant. SANBI recommends using a diluted imazapyr herbicide.

In the case of the Australian Bottlebrush, there is also extreme concern regarding the seeds. Each capsule on the seed cone contains around 60 seeds – which like Hakea, opens a few days after being killed. This facilitates the spread of the species.

In the Stanford area, where the Bottlebrush has been found, the fantastic, supportive landowner is ensuring that ALL seeds are removed from all the cut trees. This is not easy work, but is vital to prevent spread.

If you find any of these three invasive species in the Agulhas Plain, please get in touch with us. Email: stanley@flowervalley.co.za with the details (including the location).

Sustainable wildflower harvesting assurance: Adding value to the industry

Does the wildflower harvesting industry need a Sustainable Flower Harvesting Assurance System – and if so, how should it be structured to add value to the industry and make business sense?

 

An initiative to address this is currently being led by TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now together with Flower Valley Conservation Trust, supported by the Biodiversity Component of the Western Cape Government Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (Department). The development of a sustainable wildflower harvesting assurance system is being explored in terms of the value it could bring to the industry.

A clear and viable business plan is the first step to the development of a feasible strategy for the implementation of this assurance system across the Western Cape. It forms part of the Western Cape’s Provincial Biodiversity Economy Strategy, to support and create opportunities within the green economy.

What’s the business potential?

 

The targeted outcome is to facilitate the development and implementation of a sustainable flower harvesting assurance system.

“This is an opportunity to create an inclusive approach to propel the industry forward. The key to the development of the assurance system is to understand the value it can bring while highlighting the uniqueness of Fynbos and the legacy of the harvesters,” said Dr Jaisheila Rajput, CEO of TOMA-Now.

According to Flower Valley’s Conservation Manager, Kirsten Watson, key stakeholders in the industry, particularly the Western Cape, are engaging in transparent discussions. “We are excited by this process – there’s extremely important information being gathered. It’s important that legislators understand the advantages, and some of the challenges currently facing the sector. The business plan will look to provide solutions to some of these challenges. So this is a powerful opportunity for the Fynbos sector.”

Albert Ackhurst, Head of Component Biodiversity at the Department, said:  “The Department Environmental Affairs and Development Planning through the Biodiversity Management Unit views the project as a major step forward to ensure transformation, access to global markets and equitable trading in the natural products industry.” 

Sharpening the industry’s value proposition

 

The dialogues themselves are being used to obtain a clearer understanding of the business potential for the assurance system. They will establish the viability of an assurance system, the benefits this will afford and ultimately, sharpen the value proposition for the industry.

The impetus of this work is based on the recognition by the Department that there is a need to effectively manage and coordinate biodiversity management in an inclusive manner. There needs to be an increase in capacity and knowledge of the requirements to competitively practice in the sector. This challenge is exacerbated by onerous and costly processes linked to attaining certification for the industry.

According to Ackhurst, “If stakeholders agree, and the business plan supports the implementation of an assurance system, the focus will be on potentially having a system that is a coordinated step-up approach in building the capacity and competence of the harvesters and farmers towards attaining compliance.”

The process will be completed by April 2019 when the outcomes, findings and reports will be communicated with organisations in the flower sector.