So yesterday I told you guys about the luxurious side of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. But there’s a whole other side to them which I felt deserved it’s own mention…
The conservation of biodiversity of Grootbos and its surrounds and development of sustainable nature based livelihoods through ecotourism, research, management and education.
Funds generated by the eco tourism side of Grootbos are invested through the Foundation into their various project implementations. So basically, guests who stay at Grootbos actually have a direct hand in supporting conservation & social upliftment without even realising. How cool is that? They also generate income through the sale of indigenous plants & landscaping services through their Green Futures programme (more about that later) and they’ve also been supported by German investment bank, DEG, and the Eden Project in Cornwall as well as through donations from corporates and people visiting Grootbos.
Currently they run 3 main projects which I actually got to check out while I was there with one of their social responsibility tours, and I was blown away by what they have managed to achieve and what they are doing for the local community.
My camera had come to an untimely death by this point… R.I.P buddy – you served me well… so the pics to follow are not my own. They have been provided to me by the loverly folks at Grootbos. Thanks again guys.
Right, here we go:
- Spaces for Sport: Grootbos founder, Michael Lutzeyer, realised with the upcoming Soccer World Cup in 2010 that there was a serious lack of sporting facilities available in Gansbaai. He had a dream to build a multipurpose facility which would serve as a community development project. His dream was realised with the opening of the Gansbaai Communal Sport Centre in April 2008 which obviously went down with one hell of an opening bash.With this centre they are able to provide young people with the chance to participate in sport, have access to professional coaching and to also learn about the environment. The Grootbos Foundation believes that sport is a simple way to break down social barriers and bring people together. And I have to say, standing there on their beautiful 3rd generation FIFA standard artificial grass pitch (a first of it’s kind in SA, sponsored by Tiger Turf UK), watching a soccer match between the under 11 boys versus the girls team (go girls!!), I saw that coming to life for myself. They also have facilities for rugby, cricket, netball & tennis, so the kids are exposed to a wide variety of sports.The centre serves 3 very diverse communities: the Masakhane Township, the Blompark community as well as the Gansbaai community. Training sessions happen several times a week (and also during the holidays) where coaches are often greeted by over a 100 kids at a time.The project co-ordinator, Lean Terblanche, organises the training sessions as well as matches & leagues for the teams. She operates at the Football Foundation of SA and has strong links to the Barclays Premier League & SA Football Association. Oh and they have also recently started with sports training courses for adults to give them a qualification they can use to go out and secure work. For more about what they’ve been up to and who’s been helping them, read on over here.
- Green Futures: With Green Futured unemployed & unskilled people from the local community can find a career in the field of fynbos landscaping & conservation. Green Futures partnered with DEG (the German investment bank) to establish the a college & training programme. The initial agreement was that DEG would support Grootbos on a rand-for-rand basis over a 2 year period. The education centre was built, lecturers were employed, a training curriculum was developed and they took in their first group of eager learners back in June 2003. Green Futures decided to focus on fynbos to fit in with the long term conservation vision of the Cape’s unique flora. You might not have known this, but using indigenous plants in your garden is more water-wise and it also attracts a wider variety of birds to your garden. As part of their practical work, the students are hands on with the growing & caring of the plants which they ultimately sell to generate funds which are reinvested in the project. In this way they aim to be self-sustainable. Something else you might not have known is that for only around R500, you can buy all the plants you need to kit out your whole garden. That’s a pretty good deal right? And the guys at Green Futures will then also assist you in the building of your garden with the landscaping services which they offer. For more about these services, click on over here. And for a typical day in the life of a Green Futures student, read on over here.
- Growing the Future: This project takes in 8 women every year to educate them in food production. They learn about growing vegetables & fruit, beekeeping and the principles of breeding and raising livestock.Subsistence farming is so important to many South African cultures. But with so many people moving into the cities in search of work, these skills have started to disappear. The Growing the Future project aims to show people how they can provide food, but also generate an income. For example they will show them how to grow strawberries, which can be eaten, but then they also teach these ladies how by making them into jam, they can also make a profit. The women chosen for the project learn all the key principles behind running a successful business as well as computer skills, health education, numeracy & English.For the students, the course is fully subsidised. They also get transport to & from, tools, uniforms, study materials and weekly stipend to cover their living costs. The project aims to be self sustainable, and in order to achieve this they sell their produce and even Chef Duane from Grootbos gets to make use of their fresh goodies in his kitchen. Read more about the women in the programme over here.
It’s really great to know that there are places such as Grootbos who are investing so much time & energy into giving back to the community around them.
If you are able & interested in funding or helping the Grootbos Foundation in any way, please contact them via the contact form over on this page.