Flower Valley’s Latest News

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.

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey (Executive Director)

What do you know about Biological Control?

“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.

 

 

Experiential Learning at Flower Valley

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

 

Pincushions in full bloom on Flower Valley Farm

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

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.

Update on Flower Valley’s Outdoor Classroom

The Flower Valley team has been working in the Flower Valley Farm gardens and getting ready to host workshops at the outdoor classroom in the new year. The design aspects influence directly on the interactions and experience a child will have with nature. This forms part of essential child development at a young age (ages 3-5).  These outdoor spaces create interesting places for children to experience and learn through play in a natural environment on how to connect with the fynbos elements. Below are some of the newest additions to the garden.

Sensory spiral bed

The spiral bed is situated at the entrance of the Outdoor class garden, it has fynbos plants with different scents and textures. During the Outdoor class visits children freely walk the spiral to stimulate their sense of smell and touch. The spiral bed is not only focused on a child’s sensory stimulation, but improves motor functioning abilities as children walk the fynbos spiral.

Soil beds and connecting to the earth

Soil is the building block for all life to grow, and good soil is important for vegetables. Vegetables will be planted in the raised beds after baboon proofing the area. These garden beds will be an ideal space for children to touch, smell and interact with soil and plants. The exploration of soil will help children classify different soil types and sizes. When young children are exposed to gardening, they will have a much deeper understanding of nature and its importance in later years.

Flower Valley looks forward to seeing children explore the Outdoor Classroom Garden in the new year after restrictions have been lifted for visits.

 

 

Importance of Home-Based Outreach and partners during times of crisis

Flower Valley provides home-based outreach services in Eluxolweni and Baardskeerdersbos. Children unable to attend Early Childhood Development centers are visited weekly by a fieldworker to engage in music, movement, story-telling and art. The parent or care-giver is also encouraged to engage with the child during this time to increase the interaction and stimulation when the fieldworker is not there.

Flower Valley fieldworker, Danielle Wolvaardt, says that, “People don’t realize the importance of child stimulation during their early developmental years.” Early years are the most important time for social and emotional development.

This year has been especially busy for the Flower Valley fieldworkers. Many children are not attending the ECD centers full time, due to the lock down restrictions, and this results in more young children being absorbed into the home-based outreach.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the local economy greatly, and families are struggling to provide nutritious food for their children. The Grootbos Foundation and Flower Valley teamed up to help address some of the nutritional needs through home-based outreach and has been very impactful and currently ongoing.

The generous donations by the Grootbos Foundation over the past 3 months enabled Flower Valley to distribute Pronutro and rice milk. This has supplemented the nutritional needs of 100 families within Eluxolweni and Baardskeerdersbos, specifically mothers with small babies and children older than one year. Food provision has been made possible by working together with amazing partners, such as the Grootbos Foundation, and shows incredible support towards the ECD sector during times of crisis.

Thank you, and goodbye, Lesley Richardson

For 17 years, Lesley Richardson has guided and led Flower Valley Conservation Trust as the Trust’s Executive Director, and in the past two years, as Fundraising and Partnership Development Manager. Now Lesley has decided to ‘move along’ from Flower Valley – to focus her attention on the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI).

Lesley took over as Executive Director at Flower Valley in September 2003. At the time, she joined the Trust following an eight-year stint at WWF South Africa, including as Director of Communications and Marketing.

By 2003, Flower Valley Conservation Trust had focused its work on Flower Valley Farm, the home of the Trust.

But an opportunity early during Les’s career at Flower Valley put the Trust on a different trajectory – connecting with some of the biggest conservation players in the Overberg and beyond.

At the time, the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility provided resources for conservation in the Agulhas Plain. Flower Valley was tasked with developing one of the four outputs of the region-wide project: Ecologically, socially and economically sustainable harvesting of wild fynbos is demonstrated as a viable land-use on the Agulhas Plain.

This served as the basis of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme – which became the Trust’s flagship programme in subsequent years.

From the outset, Flower Valley also focused on Early Childhood Development. And Lesley’s support to this programme culminated in the Overstrand Mayor’s Award for Excellence in 2014. According to Overstrand Municipality Area Manager Kat Myburgh and Gabrielle Jonker, who nominated Lesley for the award, “Lesley is a hands-on, tender, kind, honest and respectful person. Her professionalism is an example to all who work with her. She is a mentor and inspiration to many, both young and old.”

In 2010, when the first phase of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative concluded, Flower Valley, led by Lesley, ensured this landscape initiative could continue. Between 2003 and 2010, relationships of trust and cooperation had built up between ABI’s partners, which supported conservation efforts in the Agulhas Plain.

At the launch meeting for phase 2 of ABI in 2010, partners agreed that Flower Valley serve as the ABI Coordination Unit and the Secretariat, and that ABI would now operate across the Overberg. Through Lesley’s drive, many of these relationships have been maintained over the following decade, and new relationships have also formed under the ABI banner.

Lesley and the ABI partners are now driving the process to re-vision ABI – to further consolidate the ABI partnership through a new round of shared thinking, clarifying goals and practical plans (in a project funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust).

In 2012, Flower Valley launched a landscape alien clearing project (also under the ABI banner). The Trust worked with around 250 beneficiaries, and 100 landowners in the Agulhas Plain, through funding secured via the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. Around 30,000 hectares were cleared per year through the project, which continues today. This programme address the threats which were identified by the ABI partnership.  

Also under Les’s direction, the Trust revamped the Sustainable Harvesting Programme from 2014, with funding support from the European Union and WWF Nedbank Green Trust. This saw the SHP entrenched in the Agulhas Plain, and rolled out to new harvesting areas – supporting pickers to harvest fynbos according to environmental principles, and to meet social and labour compliance in harvesting teams. The SHP is the only programme of its kind in the fynbos industry.

Throughout her Flower Valley career, Lesley has served on numerous boards, including as Vice-Chair of the Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) Implementation Committee and as Trustee and Chair of the Southern African Wildlife College Trust. She has also served on the board of Cape Flora SA (the fynbos industry body) and serves on the board of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust

According to Flower Valley’s Executive Director, Roger Bailey, Lesley has played a transformational role in the Agulhas Plain – particularly in the fynbos sector and the ECD environment. “I’m not sure how one summarises 17 years of hard work and dedication in a few short sentences. Lesley has not only been at the forefront of conservation in the Agulhas Plain and the broader Overberg – showing courage in implementing programmes and ideas well ahead of their time. But she has also played a key role in my own career. She has provided guidance and support throughout, and took on her role as Executive Director by adopting a consultative and facilitative approach.”

“She will be sorely missed at Flower Valley Conservation Trust. Best wishes to you, Les, on your next chapter and may this be filled with plenty of interesting and thought-provoking fynbos aspects.”

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Flower Valley Farm

Flower Valley Farm is a showcase of pristine fynbos and indigenous forests covering our mountains and valleys, and a demonstration of how to manage these landscapes well.

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Thank you, and goodbye, Lesley Richardson

Thank you, and goodbye, Lesley Richardson

For 17 years, Lesley Richardson has guided and led Flower Valley Conservation Trust as the Trust’s Executive Director, and in the past two years, as Fundraising and Partnership Development Manager.

Spicy or sweet; honey or herb: The fragrances of Flower Valley’s fynbos

From honey scents, to slightly smelly shoes, spring has created an avalanche of aromas in our fynbos on Flower Valley Farm.  

Most of these wonderful aromas can be experienced on a hike through our fynbos. So if you head to Flower Valley Farm now, here’s what’s likely to light up your sense of smell.

Protea scabra

Near Threatened

This ground Protea is flowering now on Flower Valley Farm. You’ll find it along the Wonky Hill Trail. The protea gives off a musky scent which does a good job of attracting mice which pollinate it.

Leucadendron tinctum

Near Threatened

This member of the Proteaceae family is also known as the spicy conebush. The flowers of the female cones have a distinct spicy scent. But according to botanist, Sean Privett, these flowers are encircled by oil bracts that are likely to taste horrible to protect the flowers from insects.

Leucospermum prostratum 

Vulnerable

Flower Valley Farm is home to this Yellow Trailing Pincushion, which is flowering at the moment. The flower releases a yeasty scent, which resembles slightly smelly shoes. And this attracts the rodents which pollinate it.

Struthiola striata  

Least Concern

These flowers really ‘come alive’ at night, giving off their honey scents only in the evening in order to attract their pollinators, usually moths. These plants grow quickly, and like many fynbos species, they’re water-wise.

Agathosma cerefolium  

Least Concern

The Beach buchu is often used in cosmetics, soaps and perfumes. It’s also a lovely addition to potpourris, says botanist (and Flower Valley Trustee), Sean Privett, in the ‘Field Guide to the Flora of the Grootbos Nature Reserve and the Walker Bay region’. In their natural environment along the Stinkhoutsbos Trail on Flower Valley Farm, they provide an enticing, wonderful aroma on a cool spring day.

Agathosma imbricata

Least Concern

Hikers will enjoy the wonderful sweet or herb fragrances given off by these Wild buchu leaves. Here’s a tip: During a walk, pick some of their leaves and crush them between your fingers. This provides a wonderful fragrance.

Agathosma ciliaris 

Least Concern

The Agathosma was used by Khoi people in the past, powdered and added to sheep’s fat to be applied as a scented body lotion, according to the ‘Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg’. The ciliaris in particular has a strong aniseed smell. 

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Flower Valley Farm

Flower Valley Farm is a showcase of pristine fynbos and indigenous forests covering our mountains and valleys, and a demonstration of how to manage these landscapes well.

Search

Popular Posts

Thank you, and goodbye, Lesley Richardson

Thank you, and goodbye, Lesley Richardson

For 17 years, Lesley Richardson has guided and led Flower Valley Conservation Trust as the Trust’s Executive Director, and in the past two years, as Fundraising and Partnership Development Manager.

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