Food security in many parts of the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve and the surrounding areas is not guaranteed, and in fact is some areas, up to 70% of people do not know if they will be eating dinner tonight. This is not only in rural areas, but in urban and city areas as well.
Unemployment is rife, crowded living conditions and lack of education all play a role in this uncertainty.
The CWBR has embarked on a program to educate and empower people to create their own food source.
This project entails planting food bearing trees and vegetable gardens in informal settlements, schools, rural areas and anywhere else where food is scarce.
This is done through consultation with the communities to establish what their needs are, and what foods they prefer to eat, which does differ from community to community. The communities, where necessary, are informed on the best methods to ensure plant survival, many however come from farming backgrounds and teach us. All recipients dig the hole and prepare the soil.
Once this is completed the trees and other plants are supplied. GPS locations of the trees are recorded so as to inform the sponsors of exactly where their funds are being spent, and it allows for accurate follow ups to ensure maximum survival of the donated trees. To date over 6000 trees have been planted of which 94 % have survived.
Funding is obtained through partnerships with individual and business, and a very close relationship with Earth Call in Luxemburg and Holland. They created the Bonnie Peoples Project in Bonnievale. They built, manage and fund a pre school which has been running very successfully for ten years.
The children at the school come from a very poor informal settlement nearby where there is a high percentage of unemployment. It became obvious that during school holiday the children where not getting the same nutrition supplied at school, where they are fed daily.
The CWBR then partnered with The Bonnie People Project and Dream South Africa to implement the planting of hundreds of food baring trees and the planting of vegetable gardens in the area.
The effect of these projects go way beyond food security alone. Granadilla creepers not only supply vitamins and other nutrients, but form hedges which define the properties, have fantastic flowers and stop children damaging themselves on razor wire fences. Trees are bearing fruit and have supplied nesting areas for birds, shade for people to sit under and create a “spirit of place” where people feel proud of how they have changed their circumstances.
These projects are implemented throughout the CWBR area.
Schools and communities in Stellenbosch , Paarl, Saron, McGregor , Franschhoek and Worchester are all involved in improving their surroundings and being given the opportunity in ensure that food and the related nutrition required for healthy living, is a possibility.
In many instances, individuals are now taking cutting, collecting seeds and propagating their own plants to expand the project themselves.
School children in Luxemburg, not only collect funds for these projects but take time to come to South Africa as volunteers, to propagate trees, help built the Ultimate Living Centre and interact with school children here, resulting in cultural exchange and understanding.
The long term advantages and educational gains from these projects have enormous potential.