Did you know that exposure to plants can boost your health? And in times of lockdown – they can especially support your mental and emotional health.
Research shows that time spent in a natural setting (yes, even a small garden), can help reduce stress, make you more productive and creative, help you remember better, and reduce signs of depression.
Right now, many of us simply don’t have access to nature (let along a shop-bought fynbos bouquet) – as we remain safely home to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
So, if you can’t enjoy some of the fynbos beauty outdoors, we’ll bring some of the fynbos beauty into your home (albeit a virtual presence).
More specifically, we’re sharing some of those lesser-known fynbos plants you’re likely to see in your sustainably-harvested fynbos bouquet (these species are harvested from natural fynbos landscapes, as opposed to flower orchards).
‘Glasogies’ (literally translated as ‘Glass eyes’)
Staavia radiata is often found in fynbos bouquets. It’s usually used as a filler – in other words, it’s used around the pretty focal flowers (such as the Proteas). But that doesn’t make these magical white flowers any less spectacular.
Staavia radiata is known to resprout vigorously after fire. It flowers between September and December, and occurs across large parts of the Cape Floral Kingdom (as such, it’s listed as a species of Least Concern).
‘Blombos’ (literally translated as ‘Flower bush’)
We can show you pictures of the pretty Metalasia muricata. But unfortunately technology doesn’t yet allow us to share their very prominent smell with you – they have a distinctive honey scent. They also have hardy leaves – and flowers range from white, to brown, and event to pink and purple.
This species is listed as Least Concern and is harvested from natural fynbos landscapes. It’s widespread and abundant across much of the Cape Floral Kingdom, especially the coastal areas and flowers between May and September. (It’s also got great garden potential).
The Phaenocoma prolifera is known as the ‘strooiblommetjie’ (translated as ‘straw flower’). If you’ve touched it, then you’ll know why – it feels a bit like straw or paper. The flowers are pink when they’re young, but as they grow older, they fade to white.
They flower between September and March – and are listed as Least Concern because they are fairly widespread (from the Cape Peninsula all the way down to Bredasdorp). But they do face some threats: If they’re picked when they are too young, they can be killed.
Leucadendron coniferum is also often found in fynbos bouquets as a filler. The cones start off as pink/red, but as they get older, then become green. They flower between August and September.
This species is listed as Vulnerable. And what’s more, it has a Vulnerability Score of 5 (this means that it must be monitored closely to ensure it’s not over-harvested). It’s also threatened by invasive plants, loss of habitat and degradation.
The Leucadendron linifolium is also listed as Vulnerable – that’s because you’ll often find them growing in wetlands (and many wetlands have been lost over the decades). They also have a slightly higher Vulnerability Index score (4), which means they must be monitored.
They flow between September and October. These plants are pollinated by insects – and the seeds are kept safely in the female cones, only to be released following a fire.
When we saw that an intact pristine fynbos farm was threatened by potential agricultural expansion 21 years ago – you, our donors, stepped in to help. This purchase with the help of Fauna and Flora International, saw the birth of Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
At the height of the lockdown during the past four months, Flower Valley Conservation Trust had to react swiftly. At the time, the spotlight fell almost exclusively on the latter half of our vision: for life and livelihoods (our vision is: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods).
The Flower Valley team has found two new alien plant species to the Overberg, while working along the banks of the Klipdrift River in Napier. And one species in particular is causing concern for conservationists here, due to its
Rolling fynbos hills, secretive forests, fresh clear air. That’s what Flower Valley Farm offers you. So why not stop by for a relaxed hike or tractor ride to experience this part of the Cape Floral Kingdom wonderland for yourself.
For Flower Valley Conservation Trust, we are all about sharing our love for flora and fauna, especially the wild and untouched fynbos. And you’re invited to also fall in love with this natural miracle.
Guests can enjoy hiking, mountain biking and tractor rides.
The hikes and mountain biking give you a chance to walk through and indulge in rich and sometimes threatened fynbos, whilst the tractor rides offer a fun farm experience.
You’re planning to visit – how much will it cost?
Hiking – R80 per person. We have 4 hiking trails on Flower Valley Farm that have been marked by signs to guide you along.
Mountain biking – R40 per person. We are the starting point or finishing point for the Klipspringer Mountain bike trail. There are four route options here, ranging from 8km to 31km. The long circular route will test any rider, taking you over beautiful fynbos-covered mountains.
Tractor rides – R140 per person. But if you can organise a group of 10 or more, then it is R100 per person. Tractor rides give you the pleasure of viewing the fynbos whilst breathing in the crystal clear air. (Booking essential)
The Farm is open to visitors from 9am – 4pm daily, except over weekends. We are open on a Saturday by appointment only, and closed on Sundays. And if you decide to come hike over a weekend, we’ve got an honesty box for you to make use of.
Also take note – we are closed on public holidays. (We also need a little time to recharge our batteries.)
Bring friends and family, pack yourself a picnic and come enjoy some quality time in the flora. We look forward to hosting you on the farm, and sharing with you the wonders of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Fynbos is hardy, and can withstand tough weather conditions. But a recent outing on Flower Valley Farm (the home of Flower Valley Conservation Trust) highlighted just how the current weather could be impacting on our fynbos landscape.
The Western Cape is experiencing the worst drought in more than a century. And the dry spell has certainly affected Flower Valley Farm.
We recently saw how a number of fynbos species that flower in spring, had already starting flowering in the middle of winter. For example:
Leucospermum patersonii (Pincushions) were already blooming very early July. They usually only start to show at the end of August.
Even the Sewejaartjie (Edmondia sesamoides) was seen flowering in late June (they also usually flower during August).
And the Pelargonium elegans, a species that flowers in September, showed its colours in July.
During a trip around the farm in December, a species like Leonotis leonurus (known as Wild dagga) was already flowering. Traditionally these bright orange flowers would only be seen between March and May.
The out-of-the-ordinary flowering times may possibly be caused by the unusual weather patterns. The downpour in November was much-needed; however, rain is unusual during the summer months for our winter rainfall area – in the Overberg region of South Africa.
Now, the Flower Valley team is on high alert for the greatest summer threat: runaway fires. Plans are in place and Flower Valley has connected with our fire partners to ensure we are prepared.
If you and your family are heading to the Overstrand this festive season, please pay a visit to Flower Valley Farm for a fynbos hike or a tractor ride. Call farm manager, Marianna Afrikaner, to organise your visit to our piece of fynbos magic. But wherever you are, BE FIRE-WISE!
Around 14.5 million stems of fynbos were picked from the wild fynbos landscapes of the Cape Floral Kingdom, and exported around the world last year alone. And each year that number grows.
The fynbos industry is also not small in terms of employment: Cape Flora SA estimates that fynbos provides a livelihood to around 20,000 people – many of these women from marginalised communities.
So the work to ensure fynbos stems are picked sustainably – to benefit the landscape, and those who depend on fynbos, is vital.
It’s a question that retailers are increasingly raising too – to prove to their consumers that fynbos is being ethically sourced.
The Flower Valley Sustainable Harvesting Programme is the only programme of its kind – providing assurance of good environmental, social and labour practice to the fynbos industry.
It’s a programme that has developed – and changed lives – over the past 15 years – thanks to the many partners on this journey.
For the past four years, the European Union and the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust have supported the sustainable picking of fynbos, through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP). And along this journey, Flower Valley has provided support to this sector to showcase its ethical products to retailers.
The support from these donors helped the SHP grow its membership base to 28 – including harvesting teams, landowners and packsheds. This support now covers an area of 75,000 hectares across the Cape Floral Kingdom where wild harvesting takes place.
The SHP team developed a set of tools to measure compliance of members participating in the programme.
This includes an integrated Internal Management System for exporters and distributors of wild fynbos. This system is implemented among small-scale suppliers of fynbos – supporting these suppliers to enter on a journey of continuous improvement, and to measure their improvements over time.
A Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting was developed in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa, as well as a pocket field guide – when the SHP teamed up with the University of Durham and Newcastle.
Training has been provided to 200 harvesters, making use of a set of DVDs that help explain the SHP to harvesters, and ways to meet environmental, and social and labour best practice standards.
Research and monitoring has also been emphasised over the past four years. A rapid resource base assessment has been developed, which serves as a verification of harvesting practices and provides monitoring over the long-term.
The SHP team has worked closely with researchers and tertiary institutions over the period, convening a Research Working Group and developing a research agenda – which we now use as a base to work with research students.
An online Natural Resource Management database today serves as a platform for efficient storage of key harvesting information and other profiles. This allows stakeholders to easily track member progress – and will become a tool that landowners can use to implement good land management on their properties.
And information collected via field monitors is entered into this database, which over time will highlight harvesting trends, and guide best practice.
It’s been a partnership that has changed the face of sustainable fynbos harvesting – allowing for more supportive tools, increased support and even stronger relationships. From Flower Valley Conservation Trust, a huge thank you to the EU and to the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust for joining us on this journey.
CapeNature, the conservation regulatory authority in the Western Cape, has launched a digital self-service permitting system.
That means that fynbos harvesters and landowners who allow harvesting on their properties can now apply for new licences, or renew current licences online. In the past permit applications were downloaded and submitted manually to CapeNature’s offices.
Who should benefit from the new system?
Those who pick fynbos, and those who export, import and sell (even retailers and farmstalls) fynbos flora need a CapeNature permit before they are allowed to trade, as set out in legislation. Remember that picking flowers along the side of a road is illegal – unless of course you have the right permit.
It’s believed the online system will streamline the permitting process, making it more effective and easier to work with. Those applying for permits will also now be able to keep track of their current permits and pending applications easily.
The move by CapeNature has been welcomed across the fynbos industry. Operations Director, Roger Bailey says, “We work with fynbos harvesters and landowners throughout the Cape Floral Kingdom, and we’ve seen how an accessible and simple system can help to facilitate compliance.”
CapeNature is now advising those involved in the fynbos industry to register on CapeNature’s website as a new permit owner – even if you are already in possession of a permit.
Here’s an online guide, compiled by CapeNature, to the new online system:
Celebrating the fynbos biome is at the heart of what we do at Flower Valley Conservation Trust – and it seems that National Geographic agrees with our how exceptional our area is!
In a recent feature by NatGeo, they listed “21 Places to Stay if You Care About the Planet” and our joint venture, Fynbos Retreat accommodation, is number 12 on the list. We are thrilled to see Fynbos Retreat on the list, as it really is a special place to engulf yourself in our fynbos.
Fynbos Retreat is situated next door to Flower Valley Farm, hidden away on top of our fynbos mountains. Have a look at the article and make sure to book your weekend away at Fynbos Retreat, hiking, mountain-biking, bird-watching, swimming or simply relaxing and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this magnificent valley in the Overberg.
This Thursday (April 13) is International Plant Appreciation Day. And what better way to celebrate and appreciate our fabulous fynbos!
So we’ve got 4 reasons to get into the fynbos on Thursday (and any other day, for that matter).
This endangered pretty pink flower only grows from July to October and is only found in three locations in the world – one of them on Flower Valley Farm. This Erica species used to be harvested for the fynbos bouquet industry. But the fynbos industry and others involved in fynbos soon realised this was not smart. And so harvesting of Erica irregularis was stopped – before extinction!
The Aloe juddii is very new to the aloe family – and was only discovered a few years back. This phenomenal new species can only be seen on Flower Valley Farm and Farm215, on high rocky sandstone slopes. Although it’s believed to also occur elsewhere, experts say its population is decreasing, threatened by invasive plants.
A wonderful species which was spotted after a small fire in our region in 2004 – by Heiner Lutzeyer of Grootbos. This vulnerable species can be found flowering on Flower Valley Farm from October to November and has the most spectacular white bulb-like petals. The Lachenalia lutzeyeri loves the sun and grows after a fire. But irregular fires are a major threat to this Lachenalia.
Another vulnerable species that we love on Flower Valley Farm is the Leucospermum patersonii – the silver-edge pincushion. This dark orange pincushion blooms between August and November and the sugarbirds use the plant as a landing pad for them to collect sweet nectar. They make for a beautiful sight on Flower Valley Farm in October.
These interesting plant species are a must see on Flower Valley Farm.
Just remember your hiking shoes and a camera!
Photo credit: Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Fynbos Hub
The Funky Fynbos Festival was held on Flower Valley Farm in September – with more than 500 mountain bikers and trailrunners, and their families, getting to know the farm and enjoying the scenery.
This was the third Funky Fynbos Festival – and the first where Flower Valley Farm hosted the start and finish of the races. The festival aims to showcase the Gansbaai region as more than a marine destination, but also as a fynbos hub – with many fynbos species only found here, and nowhere else globally.
Sounds of the Gansbaai Academia’s Marimba Band created an unforgettable ambience, while the Shark Lady filled in the gaps with her DJ skills. Boerie rolls, beers and creative crafts were on sale, providing the crowds with sustenance and entertainment while waiting for their families to complete the races.
Race contestants commented on how tricky and challenging the trails were, although they agreed that the flourishing Walker Bay fynbos made the challenge worthwhile.
Karen Clement, the event coordinator of the Funky Fynbos Festival, thanked the sponsors and exhibitors. “The festival really captured the essence of the Gansbaai community and promoted our Gansbaai and greater Overstrand area.”
From Flower Valley Conservation Trust, our thanks to everyone who joined us on Flower Valley Farm. We look forward to next year and hosting you again.
Some quotes from Funky Fynbos Festival attendees:
“I’ve ridden some of the route and I don’t think there are many better races you can do. Lots of climbs and lots of fun descents and great views.”
“The fun race calendar is so packed with events it’s hard to compete, I guess. I would far rather do the FFF than any of the other crowded-out races on smooth boring trails. Please keep the event alive!”
“Thanks for hosting us and well done on an excellent event. The 45km (mountain bike) was damn hard, can’t imagine what the 64km must have been like.”
“We encountered a herd of “wild” horses galloping along the trail at one point which added a bit of spice to the ride. The organization was superb as were the trail markings. There was great beer on sale at the finish area and the cheapest boerie rolls I have seen for a while @ R15 a pop! The fynbos in the area is amazing and I had a good view of it as I pushed up some of the last hills.”
“Gansbaai trails are always fun. Spectacular scenery; photos don’t do it justice.”
The first group visited on a rainy day – and so only managed a small hike around the farmstead. However, the group heard all about the Flower Valley story and then enjoyed a picnic on the farm.
Luckily for the second group, it was a magnificent day to enjoy the outdoors. After a chat about Flower Valley’s work as a non-profit organisation, they enjoyed a tractor trip to the Stinkhoutsbos Forest to enjoy their picnic baskets. The group even decided to hike back to the farmstead, taking in all the different fynbos species that they could find.
Our thanks to the Royal Horticultural Society in London for visiting us – we look forward to hosting you soon again.
Organisers have been hard at work and excitement is in the air with the build-up to the Funky Fynbos Festival taking place in September. Gansbaai’s greatest festival has had a change of venue and will be hosted on Flower Valley Farm this year on 24 and 25 September, over the long weekend, so mark the dates in your diary to avoid missing out.
The Funky Fynbos Festival’s focus has always been on family fun, the love for nature, community interaction and entertainment and this year’s event will definitely not disappoint. You, your family and your friends are all invited to spend the day engulfed by beautiful fynbos and exhilarating events.
These events will include the Rockets Funky Fynbos Mountain bike rides. This year a 70km race will be added to the 43km Monster Race, the tough 30km, a new 20km ride, as well as a 12km race for the children and less accomplished adults. There will also be a 30km, 12km and 6km trail run. Other activities at the festival will include a 4×4 route, wine and food at Lomond, a flower display and a model aircraft demonstration so remember to save the date.