Flower Valley Conservation Trust has turned 18 years old
For the Trust, it has been 18 years of growth, progress and learning – from 1999, when with Fauna & Flora International’s support, Flower Valley Farm was purchased; to 2017, where Flower Valley has entered a new phase in promoting fynbos care throughout the Cape Floral Kingdom. The Trust takes a quick look at those defining moments that have led Flower Valley to where we are today.
1999With talk that the area is to be converted to vineyards, a concerned individual, Carol Blumenthal approaches Fauna & Flora International (FFI) for support to buy Flower Valley Farm, based just outside Gansbaai. FFI purchases the farm, an area of 540 hectares, and sets up Flower Valley Conservation Trust to manage the farm.
1999The Flower Valley Early Learning Centre for children aged between two and six is born, to help look after the children of fynbos harvesters and farm workers while they’re at work. The centre’s work in providing an environmental education for children continues today.
2003Flower Valley Conservation Trust is mandated through the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) to investigate ABI’s second objective: ‘Ecologically, socially and economically sustainable harvesting of wild fynbos is demonstrated as a viable land-use on Agulhas Plain’. This sets Flower Valley on the path to develop the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, a programme based on research, science and wide participation. The outcome is awarded a ‘highly satisfactory’ rating by the end of the project, in 2010.
2003Flower Valley Conservation Trust buys the neighbouring farm, Witvoetskloof, with funding secured from Fauna & Flora International. This farm is home to many highly threatened fynbos species, many found only on Witvoetskloof and nowhere else in the world.
2006Flower Valley Farm is hit by a devastating fire that destroys more than 45,000 hectares in the Walker Bay area – most of this pristine fynbos. The fire affects many fynbos suppliers and their picking teams. Moreover, Flower Valley Farm itself loses a large portion of its afromontane forest, one of the reasons behind the Stinkhoutsbos Forest Restoration Project happening today.
2009Flower Valley sells the neighbouring farm Witvoetskloof to Grootbos Nature Reserve. The sale takes place on the condition that conservation restrictions are placed on the title deed to ensure land use of the farm will forever be for conservation of the natural fynbos. This is the first such ‘conservation easement’ of its kind in the country.
2011Flower Valley is confirmed as the coordinator of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative, in setting up and provisionally coordinating ABI in its second phase.
2011Fynbos Retreat, the tourism joint venture between Flower Valley and Grootbos, is officially launched in November. Fynbos Retreat is situated on Witvoetskloof Farm, offering self-catering accommodation facilities for visitors and tourists. Fynbos Retreat is well-received at the launch, and today still continues to enjoy strong support.
2012Flower Valley Conservation Trust becomes a signatory to the Cape Action for People and the Environment.
2013Flower Valley, as coordinator of ABI, starts coordinating the ABI Alien Clearing Project, following the launch of the Land User Incentive Scheme by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Funding is secured for the next three years to clear invasive alien plants on the Agulhas Plain.
2013The packshed that sells sustainably harvested fynbos, Fynsa, closes its doors. The closure, while disappointing, sets Flower Valley on a new path to develop new partnerships and renewed support for the Sustainable Harvesting Programme across the supply chain.
2013At the same time, Flower Valley receives new donor support to roll out the Sustainable Harvesting Programme beyond the Agulhas Plain – the initial pilot area. The three new areas are the West Coast, the Riversdale-area and the Boland.
2014Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 15!
2017The Flower Valley Early Learning Centre turns 18 and celebrates with 27 children now attending the pre-school. Nowadays, the ELC is home to 27 children, with two separate classrooms, providing a safe learning environment for the children of the Gansbaai area.