Flower Valley’s latest news

2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

I’ve been with the Trust for 18 of those 21 years. And I believe our reach is bigger than ever because of one thing: our ability to remain relevant, even as situations change. Here’s what I’ve seen over these 18 years: I’ve seen climate change emerge as a major theme; I’ve seen invasive species multiply and threaten our fynbos ecosystems; and I’ve experienced the desire and commitment to search for and apply green economic solutions to benefit our community and our environment.

Flower Valley works at the core of these themes – thanks to the support of wonderful donors. As a new need emerges, we must adapt. 21 years later, we’re still doing that. 

Right now, we’re facing a new challenge – and so we’re adapting once again, this time in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flower Valley’s role has always been to protect our natural world THROUGH people. Everything we do to achieve our vision: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods, takes place by working with people.

Right now, the people we work with, from the fynbos harvesters and those involved in our natural resource management, to the young children and their families in our Early Childhood Development Programme (ECD), have been severely affected by the Coronavirus-related lockdown.

So here’s how we’re helping during this time in our ECD Programme, and in our Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

 

21 YEARS LATER… 

Right now, our birthday celebrations look a little different than we’d planned. While working from home, we can’t toast our 21st birthday year with you in person. But we can take you on our 21-year journey so far: www.flowervalley.org.za

Here’s to us raising a glass together soon.

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey
Executive Director (Acting): Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Sustainable Fynbos Harvesting

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Sustainable Harvesting Programme

When you pick fynbos sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the jobs of those who live by harvesting it sustainably. 

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The global crash of the flower market

Most industries have been hard hit by the Coronavirus. But few are feeling those impacts quite as much as the flower industry. 

In the EU alone, the total production value of flowers amounts to around R400-billion a year. Now, though, the sector has had to shut down as a result of COVID-19.

In the fynbos sector, those impacted most severely are small businesses who harvest fynbos from natural landscapes daily, and sell what they’ve picked to fynbos packsheds. They’re independent suppliers to the packsheds, and in many instances, won’t be able to claim any wages during the lockdown period.

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust team is now undertaking a survey to find out what the needs are during this time, and how harvesters can be supported.

The survey shows that many of these harvesters are affected by the lockdown, as they aren’t currently receiving wages. The greatest need currently is food parcels. Many also didn’t know where to turn to request help, and the few who have been able to apply for assistance from various sources, have not yet received support.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust is now working to connect these harvesters with humanitarian relief programmes in operation in the district. The focus is currently on 40 families that are most in need during this time.

It’s hoped that the sector will be able to see some form of recovery once lockdown is lifted. Traditionally the industry peaks between July and October. Flower exports may have resumed by then, although it’s too early to be sure of this.

Flower Valley is working closely with the Newcastle University in this survey. The university has provided funding to train harvesters to pick fynbos as per the Sustainable Harvesting principles in the past. Currently their ongoing support is allowing us to ascertain the needs of harvesters, and facilitate support. 

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Natural Resource Management: Sustainable Harvesting Programme

When fynbos is picked sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the livelihoods of those who harvest it. 

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Flower Valley’s latest news

Flower Valley’s latest news

2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

Alien clearing: Some good news (amid COVID-19 impacts)

THE CORONAVIRUS MAY HAVE ENDED OUR FIRST YEAR OF THE NEW AGULHAS BIODIVERSITY INITIATIVE (ABI) ALIEN CLEARING PROJECT, IMPLEMENTED BY FLOWER VALLEY CONSERVATION TRUST, EARLIER THAN WE HAD PLANNED.

But the project still managed to clear around 5 700 hectares in just eight months. And it created employment for 144 project participants.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries is funding the project over a three-year period. They are providing funding of R11,9-million between 2019 and 2022. The first year’s budget amounted to R3,7-million. Landowners involved in the project provide co-funding support. And Flower Valley Conservation Trust has raised additional funding for management and monitoring from donors, such as the Drakenstein Trust and the Millennium Trust.

The project has a number of deliverables:

  • To clear invasives for the first time on a site (initial clearing);
  • To undertake follow-up clearing (sites already cleared in the past);
  • To provide both accredited and non-accredited training (including herbicide, first aid training and a course on snake awareness);
  • And to create employment opportunities for our project participants

We’re extremely pleased that our ABI Alien Clearing Project participants are still receiving support while they’re at home during lockdown. We’re very grateful to the Department and our funders for their continued support during this lockdown period.

Invasive species are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity, not only in the Overberg, but around the world.

Around 45,000 hectares are infested by invasive plants in the Agulhas Plain alone, says the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (a 2018 report). Not only do these invasive plants consume water, resulting in around 5% and 19% flow reductions in the Agulhas Plain, but they’re also closely linked to a changing climate.

To address this threat, the ABI Alien Clearing Project launched in 2013. Since the launch, we’ve worked with nine land user groups (such as conservancies), to clear strategically across the landscape. The nine conservancies together cover around 110 000 hectares.

The nine conservancies are:

The work forms part of Flower Valley’s Natural Resource Management Programme – through which we aim to protect our fynbos-covered landscapes for life and livelihoods.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Natural Resource Management: Alien Clearing

When invasive alien plants are removed from our fynbos biome, our river courses, wetlands and other natural landscapes, then nature can provide her bounty uninterrupted.  

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Flower Valley’s latest news

2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

Strife in vulnerable Eluxolweni: A chance to step up?

By Lizelle Henegan

Vulnerability is growing in impoverished Eluxolweni – a small Pearly Beach neighbourhood in the Overstrand. 

Young children and their families are going hungry and they are growing more desperate. Due to our longterm investment in and care for the wellbeing of the community, as Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) we are re-evaluating our service methods and delivery, as well as our impact in an ever-shifting landscape.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust dropped off food parcels in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach on Thursday 23 April. The funds were raised through an appeal coordinated by the Trust. Flower Valley’s Kieran Whitley delivered the parcels from door-to-door to 64 families. 

Our ECD Programme Manager, Gabrielle Jonker, shares some personal words on how within the deep inequalities, strained today to a critical point, we can consider our approach to support these and other communities:

 

“I am not sure that people living in the reality of today’s inequality (or somewhere in between it) know what the others’ world looks like. We have vague glimpses depending on where we have been or what we have been exposed to, but to really see and understand separate worlds is not easy. Yet we still share commonalities like the love for our children, the encouragement of friends during hard times, the joy that bird song brings in the morning, the awe we experience when we see a sunset. However divided, misinformed, prejudiced, conflicted or separated we may be, these simple things in life are powerful universalities that remain strong and constant and bring us comfort and joy.

“All my life I have been troubled by inequality: what it means, how it manifests, what it does, where it comes from and how I can be in service to all beings, equally enjoying the same rights and care. In this tense and terrifying time, I can hear and speak the words of rage or judgement, shame or accusation, or even imagine that I have some (miracle) answers as I see inequality raise its ugly claws. But I can also choose to look to where love, care and sharing come to heal and help us learn more about ourselves, about each other and the world we live in.

“Can we show the willingness to find another way of being? To think differently? To question our beliefs, our habits, our assumptions and views? To question ourselves first and foremost?

“Food parcels and feeding programmes are wonderful, and offering even the smallest contribution do have the potential to inspire an internal transformation – especially today, when the bare basics are so urgently needed. But we must acknowledge, as we give, that they are temporary and only provide a band-aid to much deeper wounds that are going to need individual, group and systemic change. If we are really going to be honest about what we are facing, maybe we might see that change begins with all of us sharing from the abundance of what we have. Sharing the stories of our childhood, the skills of our hands, the knowledge of our minds and hearts, our gifts, our money, our food, our spaces, our family, our friends, our lands and forest and fields. As we start to share and to ask relevant questions, as we become willing to learn and unlearn, we could shift, step by step from what does not serve deep transformation to what does.

“So in the tiny microcosm of Eluxolweni, how do we apply these sentiments, these ideas, these hopes? I am not really sure, but I am willing to be a part of this great emergence, not with all the answers but with an open heart and a deep knowing of the interbeing that is life and of the sources of ancient wisdom which we all share and which will carry us through this.”

 

Flower Valley will continue to maintain close communications with our field workers, parents and care givers, community leaders, the Overstrand Municipality, the Department of Social Development, ward councillors, and other NGO’s to stay informed of the needs arising in our most vulnerable communities and to collaborate our support efforts.  

In this time of crisis, we will continue to be inspired to work in close partnership with people to investigate sustainable ways and projects that can generate a healthy future.

Together with local families, in our home based programme and with you, our friends, we will strive to use these challenging times as a catapulting force to help break down old socio-economic patterns and liberate ourselves and others from the strongholds of the past.

Kieran travelled to Eluxolweni with a car full of food parcels. Our thanks to all the wonderful donors who have supported us so far, and to OK Gansbaai for putting the food parcels together. 

Change has never been more urgent and we invite you to share in this conversation.

We are furthermore appealing to the public to please make financial donations and will use these contributions to help feed impoverished families with pregnant woman and young children 0 – 4 years old during this time of need.

To find out more or to make your much needed contribution, please contact:

Kieran Whitley
Home Based Coordinator
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Email: kieran@flowervalley.co.za | Mobile: +27 (0)83 654 1425

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

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Flower Valley’s latest news

2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

Please help us feed 87 young children and their families in the Overstrand.

The current lockdown crisis that we all face requires us, as the Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT), to adjust our work to meet the pressing needs of the most vulnerable, young children aged 0 – 4 years and their families, who participate in our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme. 

This comes down to providing simple things like food and continuing to support a stable, playful and caring environment for these young children.

Background

The majority of young South African children in highly populated and rural areas do not have adequate access to early childhood services. Flower Valley’s home based programme brings ECD services to the home of the child, in a family context.

We have been delivering an ECD home based service since 2012, in response to a request made by the Department of Social Development (DSD), who is mandated to take care of the interests of children aged 0 – 4 years. The home based service forms part of our existing ECD Programme’s work of the past twenty years.

Young children and families in need

Eluxolweni – a small Pearly Beach neighbourhood has for years relied on an informal economy for income. Poaching of abalone has been a significant contributor. In November 2019, SAPS law enforcement and other sectors combined efforts to bring poaching to a halt in the Overstrand. As a consequence, this community faces growing financial hardship. And with the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa and lockdown implemented in recent weeks, the needs of this community have increased substantially. The Dolfyntjies Centre, the only local ECD Centre, had to close its doors with the lockdown, with an additional impact of the loss of salaries for teachers, as well as the compromised stimulation of the children of Dolfyntjies.

Baardskeerdersbos – another one of our rural ECD home based programme areas, exists in an already vulnerable community due to lack of services and a high rate of substance abuse. While living on a farm at this time holds some benefits, in part because most families still have someone employed, there are still families in need of food and support.

We are ready to act in the best interests of these young children and their families who are currently going hungry.

After consultation with all role players (working closely with the Overstrand Municipality), and having reviewed all the options, logistics and health and safety considerations at this time, it has been decided that the quickest and most effective way forward is for the Flower Valley ECD Programme to purchase necessary items and distribute parcels to families in dire need.

Please help us feed 87 young children and their families in the Overstrand at this critical time 

It costs us approximately R710 to provide a family 16 simple nutritious main meals over a period of one month – this includes formula for 14 babies in need, and a small play pack (valued at R20) to stimulate and bring joy to a child at this time of lockdown. 

Our target is to provide each family with a food pack every two weeks. 

The estimated monthly cost is R61 770. We will be monitoring the need and application of this relief project weekly and will continue to keep you informed.

We thank you for your support – every donation, no matter what size, will help us to help a family in need at this very difficult time.

 

Our banking details

Account name: Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Bank: Nedbank
Account type: Current
Account number: 134 501 3493
Branch code: 196005
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ
Deposit reference: Your name/Feed a family 

Please send us confirmation of your deposit and your contact details to: kieran@flowervalley.co.za as we would like to acknowledge your gift. All qualifying donations from a South African bank account can be issued with an 18A tax certificate on request.

How wonderful that we can stand together and share in the abundance of our lives and gifts. We thank you with all of our hearts for helping us to help each other. Together we are better, together we are strong.

For more information about this emergency intervention or the work of our programme, please contact:

Kieran Whitley
Home Based Coordinator
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Email: kieran@flowervalley.co.za | Mobile: +27 (0)83 654 1425

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Early Childhood Development

Good quality early childhood development is vital for the social and intellectual wellbeing of our children, allowing them to create a better future for themselves.

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Flower Valley’s latest news

2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

Coronavirus and fynbos: How we’re dealing with the crisis

By Roger Bailey, Acting Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Even at the most southerly tip of Africa, the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt acutely.

For Flower Valley Conservation Trust, we see it most clearly in our communities we work with. Flower Valley’s role has always been to protect our natural world THROUGH people. Everything we do to achieve our vision: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods, takes place by working with people. 

As a result of the virus, all our in-field programmes came to a halt (although harvesting operations have now resumed under Level 4 of lockdown). 

 

Our alien clearing programme creates work for 150 people. There are about 200 harvesters involved in our Sustainable Harvesting Programme. And around 300 young children go to school at our 5 core centres, and 80 families are supported through our Early Childhood Development Programme.

These teams and communities had to stay home when the crisis hit, and most still remain at home – staying safe and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. We’re so grateful to them for playing their part in dealing with this crisis.

But we are also very aware of how this has affected them.

And as such, we’re setting ourselves up to play a role in supporting these and other communities affected by the virus.

  • Both our Natural Resource Management and Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes received calls from participants in these programmes to assist those communities hardest hit by the lockdown. Examples are the Pearly Beach, Eluxolweni community. Currently a team led by the Flower Valley ECD Programme aims to contribute to the coordination of food parcels to vulnerable households in Eluxolweni and Baardskeerdersbos (a small town in our area of operations).
  • We are very alert to the fact that there may be existing schemes in place already. Therefore, our goal is to supplement these schemes to assist with demands over this critical period.

We’ll also continue to adapt ourselves to support any other causes that emerge in our area of operations as a result of the Coronavirus.

Despite the significant negative effects of this virus, there is, however, a flipside to this difficult time:  

For a long time, we’ve believed SERIOUS ACTION is needed to stop global biodiversity losses. Yes, NGOs like ours must continue our work to protect nature.

But change is also needed at the highest levels – at the core of government, and at the heart of the economy. We can’t continue to operate in a way that growth takes place at nature’s expense. These gains today will carry a heavy toll for humanity tomorrow.

In our global response to COVID-19, we see that we CAN take drastic action. And we can do it quickly.

The loss of our natural world is at crisis levels too. It requires global action, in order to secure our very existence as humankind. International attempts to halt the spread of the virus therefore give us hope that we can stop our unsustainable use of what Mother Earth provides us.

At the very least, let the lessons we’re learning now not be forgotten as we move ever closer to nature’s tipping point.

Sustainable Fynbos Harvesting

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Sustainable Harvesting Programme

When you pick fynbos sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the jobs of those who live by harvesting it sustainably. 

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Can’t get out into nature? We’re bringing some fynbos to you instead

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).

Cape everlasting

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.

Dune conebush

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.

Line-leaf conebush

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.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Natural Resource Management: Sustainable Harvesting Programme

When fynbos is picked sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the livelihoods of those who harvest it. 

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2020 is a really a big year for us (and April a big month): It’s when Flower Valley Conservation Trust turns 21 years old! 

What’s going below our fynbos?

There’s a flurry of activity going on BELOW the fynbos plants on Flower Valley Farm. And much of this action is being driven by the humble dung beetle.

 

Following a recent study on Flower Valley Farm, it was found that SEVEN different species of dung beetles occur here. And while they may frequent the indigenous Stinkhoutsbos Forest, the study found they prefer the fynbos-covered slopes on the farm, in particular the Critically Endangered Overberg Sandstone Fynbos and the Vulnerable Agulhas Limestone Fynbos.

The greatest diversity of species was also found in these two habitats.

HERE’S HOW THE DATA WAS COLLECTED

The research team, led by Roger Bailey (Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director) set up pitfall traps, using cow manure to lure the beetles. These were checked regularly. And the dung beetles caught were identified before being released back into the surrounding area. 

Seven different species were identified, including:

  • Circellium bacchus (Flightless dung beetle)

  • Catharius tricornutus (Three-horned dung beetle)

  • Psorodes tuberculata

  • Trox sulcatus

  • Trigonopus species

  • Histeridae species (Steel beetle)

  • (The final beetle could not be identified).

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? WHY DOES THIS MATTER? 

Because dung beetles play SUCH an important role in fynbos. 

• When they bury dung, they help maintain soil health. 

• They facilitate dung-seed dispersal. 

• They also help keep fly numbers down by removing the dung. 

Even more importantly, they’re an indicator species: their presence helps us evaluate the impacts of human activities on habitats. 

BUT DUNG BEETLES FACE SEVERE THREATS:

In fact, a recent global study found dramatic rates of declines that could lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species. Dung beetles appear to be the hardest hit. Urbanisation, loss of habitat, insecticides and pesticide residue in dung are among some of the threats.

On Flower Valley Farm, we protect our dung beetles, and the habitat they live in. 

And we’re partnered by a group of committed conservation-supporters, all whom have adopted one or more hectares on Flower Valley Farm.

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In the Bailey household, we take Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. At the very least, my wife ‘expects’ (although I try to surprise her) a beautiful bouquet of flowers – preferably fynbos. And not just any fynbos, of course. We only opt for responsibly harvested fynbos.

So we popped in at our Sustainable Harvesting Programme member, Lourens Boerdery, to get some tips on arranging a fynbos bouquet. Here Maria Lewis shows us how it’s done.

These Valentine’s Day bouquets will be sold at Pick n Pay. And for every bouquet of fynbos sold with a Flower Valley sticker on it, R1 is donated to our Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

These funds are used to train harvesters to pick fynbos with care, in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. This is such a wonderful role Pick n Pay is playing to help protect Fynbos landscapes and livelihoods.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey

Acting Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Here’s how YOU and Pick n Pay are conserving Fynbos

When you buy Fynbos bouquets with THIS sticker on them, you’re helping to conserve Fynbos. 

Flower Valley Conservation Trust has teamed up with Pick n Pay to protect Fynbos. For every bouquet of Fynbos sold in a Pick n Pay store with the sticker on, R1 is donated to Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP).

Pick n Pay has been a supporter of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme for more than a decade. They sell Fynbos harvested by members of the Programme. Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Head of the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation, is also a Patron at Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

Roger Bailey, Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director says, “For years we have worked closely with Pick n Pay. This new agreement is the pinnacle of our long-standing cooperation. Their support will help make a difference.”

With the funds raised by Pick n Pay, Fynbos harvesters receive training to pick this resource with care – in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. The funds also support monitoring and ongoing research into Fynbos harvesting.

The SHP is an assurance programme. It helps to guide harvesters to pick Fynbos in the appropriate way. It also supports them to pick the correct species.

Many Fynbos species face extinction, and more than 30 have already become extinct. That’s why harvesters are guided to only pick species that are not threatened. 

Keep an eye out for these reusable shopping bags in your Pick n Pay store. They feature Flower Valley Conservation Trust, and our Sustainable Harvesting Programme. And the proceeds of the sales of the bag support fynbos conservation.