The Flower Valley team has had busy year with delivering food to mothers and children, and equipping people with skills for potential business opportunities. Have a look on our blog to see the latest news on the essential work done by Flower Valley.
The 2020 year has had a number of challenges for everyone, and being able to adapt and respond rapidly to change is essential. Over the past 3 months Flower Valley has undergone an intensive review of the organisation, to ensure we are still relevant, operate efficiently, and have the greatest impact for biodiversity, communities and children. The new year will bring a revived team with a renewed focus on Flower Valley farm, which is the base for all our activities.
A big thank you to our friends, family, donors, and partners for all your support this year. We have achieved so much thanks to your generosity and believing in the work we do.
Flower Valley sends everyone season’s greetings, and best wishes for the holidays.
Roger Bailey (Executive Director)
“Biological control is about supporting the eventual clearing operations” Dr Alan Wood.
Alien invasive plant species threaten biodiversity, reduce water run-off, and increase risk of fire in the Overberg. Flower Valley has been working to control the spread of alien invasive plants for the past 21 years. One of the successful methods is through the release of organisms that inhibit the production of seed stock, and reduce growth and spread of an alien invader. This is known as biological control mechanisms (biocontrol).
Flower Valley Conservation Trust coordinated a successful biological control workshop for interested landowners in the Overberg region on the 25th of November 2020. The workshop aimed at providing landowners with the knowledge and practical skills to release and monitor biological control agents on targeted alien plant species. Hearth and Soul Eco farm in Akkedisberg Conservancy hosted the venue, and biocontrol expert Dr Alan Wood generously shared his knowledge with the group.
This conservancy and neighboring areas have high infestation of Hakea species. Hakea originates from Australia and is well adapted to the South African Mediterranean climate and fire. Hakea is able to spread profusely in the absence of natural predators. Two species occur in the Overberg: Hakea gibbose (rock hakea) and Hakea sericea (silky hakea). Hakea often grows in dense, impenetrable forests, and spreads high into the mountains making it inaccessible to remove through conventional clearing.
Planned releases of biocontrol in 2021 will be coordinated by Flower Valley through the support from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), and the Drakenstein Trust.
Thank you to Dr. Alan Wood from the Agricultural Research Council’s Plant Protection Research Institute for leading the workshop. Special thanks to Sybille Nagel for providing the venue and snacks, and all the landowners who attended.
FACTS ABOUT BIOCONTROL:
- It is a long-term solution to the reduce the spread of alien species
- It is one of the most cost-effective ways to control alien species
- Biocontrol will never remove the species completely
- When biocontrol is released, the organism has undergone extensive trials to make sure it does not damage other species.
Preparing and mentoring individuals within Flower Valley’s field-based work contributes towards increased probability of employment and opportunities for growth during a time of stasis. This is essential given the current state of the South African economy being strained with lock down restrictions.
The Flower Valley Conservation Trust hosts a number of opportunities to engage in learning which is current and offers hands-on experience for attendees.
As part of the preparation for the Alien Clearing Project, funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, participants underwent annual medical examinations. Flower Valley facilitated health and safety induction training focused on the Covid-19 pandemic for 141 participants planned to work in the upcoming project. This forms part of the project’s risk mitigation plan in reducing the spread of the virus.
An experiential approach to learning was done with the snake and field survival training modules for 42 attendees. The training held over three days included basic map reading skills, snake identification, first aid procedures and practical assessments. Thirteen participants qualified in chainsaw competency, which offers employment opportunities in alien clearing projects, wood cutting and forestry. This was held at Flower Valley Farm over 10 days and forms part of the alien clearing project.
Flower Valley held teacher workshops on music, movement and storytelling at Buffeljagsbaai and Masahkane Early Learning centres during November and December. Storytelling is a powerful tool to enable young children with learning . A good story brings out the imagination of the child in how it is told. The underlying values and message that is conveyed brings healing, stimulates creative play and imagination. Engaging children through stories of the heart and reading from books, is a focus of Flower Valley when working with teachers.
Music and movement are fun ways to develop gross motor development of young children. This is especially important after the lockdown period, where movement was restricted. Gross motor development is a vital component of a child’s growth. Hosting these workshops contribute towards better muscle co-ordination and movement development in young children, so that they can be more adept in future.
Flower Valley encourages lifecycle learning starting with the child, and promotes practical and physically engaging methods of capacity building. Testimonials of the trainees show their appreciation of investments made by donors and supporters of Flower Valley.
“Thank you for a wonderful course. I am so happy for the experience I gained. This is paving my way for a fruitful future.” Derek Massias
Birds, mice, ants and fire all play a role in the amazing lifecycle of these beautiful pincushions. Flower Valley Farm has three commonly occurring types of pincushions: Leucospermum patersonii, Leucospermum cordifolium and Leucospermum prostratum. These colourful balls can be seen by visitors while hiking, and have a fascinating relationship within the ecosystem. The unique pincushion flowers have adapted by developing nectar, scent, bright colours, and shapes to attract mice or birds for pollination.
Once the flower heads fall onto the ground, it breaks open and ants carry the seed underground. The seeds are covered by a fatty layer that attracts the ants, which is called an elaiosome. The ants eat the elaiosome and leave the exposed seed in the ground until a fynbos fire triggers germination and growth. The fire temperature and seed depth all influence the success of germination and ultimately the lifecycle of the pincushion.
Some interesting facts about the pincushions at Flower Valley Farm:
Leucospermum patersonii (silver-edge pincushion)
This flower is represented on the Flower Valley logo, because it is unique to threatened limestone fynbos and abundant on Flower Valley farm. Leucospermum patersonii flowers from August to November between Kleinmond and the Elim Flats near Cape Agulhas. The big orange flower heads act as a landing pad for sugarbirds that visit to extract nectar from the flower head. During this process sugar birds transport pollen from the long-incurved styles to other flower heads.
Leucospermum cordifolium can be seen in flower from August to January on acid nutrient poor soils in the Bredasdorp mountains, Soetanysberg, Elim areas and as far as Kleinmond and Houhoek. Flower heads are yellow to orange or crimson. Pollinators include the friendly sunbird, and fynbos endemic sugarbirds.
Leucospermum prostratum (yellow trailing pincushion)
Leucospermum prostratum can be seen in flower during the months of July to December, trailing on the ground in sandy areas. Visitors often miss this ground pincushion and need to look closely for it. This pincushion occurs from the Kogelberg to the Elim hills. Flower heads are bright yellow and turn deep orange or red when mature. This small pincushion has a huge amount of pollen and sweet-scented flower heads that attract field mice, which pollinate the plant.