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By Marshall Rinquest
I was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture [Landcare] to take part in a four day conference in Stellenbosch at the Provincial Training Institute of Agriculture between 8 -11 September 2015. I was honoured to be part of such a big revolution, attended by half our country’s farmers to share their inputs and challenges on the hot topic of food security.
As well as that issue, we looked at various ways of protecting our rivers and wetlands as 50% of these have been lost or contaminated through commercial farming throughout the years, through the leaching of harsh chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides into our waterways.
Demand is growing from South Africans to know where their food is coming from and how it’s grown. Farmers agree they will have to step up to the challenges and convert from the petro-chemical based compounds they use at the moment, which are depleting their soils and which are becoming so expensive they can no longer run their farms sustainably.
Throughout the four days we listened to a number of environmentalists who ran workshops/talks on the long term effects of using harsh chemicals as fertiliser and how these are one of the main reasons for cancer and other critical and chronic diseases in both humans and animals.
The biggest highlight for me was taking big commercial farmers around a few similar sized Western Cape organic farmers to see how it’s done in a sustainable way on a big commercial scale. This is called conservation farming.
A Green Argi Portal [www.greenagriportal.co.za] was launched by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, during the conference, as a platform for big and small scale farmers to practice more sustainable farming. Farmers can go to this website for any advice or contribution on how to implement conservation farming – as this will be our only way forward.
Throughout the four days a big concern was raised on the tons of food that are being wasted per year between our farmers and production. We had various workshops between the relevant parties aimed at identifying ways on how to drastically reduce our country’s food waste to ensure food security for all.
LET’S ALL BE ACTIVE CITIZENS AND BE PART OF OWN FOOD PRODUCTION AND PRODUCE NO WASTE.
People in the world have been turning green with all their hard work combatting destructive human habits. One lesson we learnt a while ago is -we can’t throw everything away in one bin because waste things are made of different materials and therefore need to go back to their different origins.
South Africa is way over due to improve its waste management systems,with Greyton being no exception. As committed citizens and a small symbiotic community we must take things into our own hands.
If you don’t already know about Eco bricks- brought to Greyton by Joseph Stodgel and his Trash to Treasure festival, it is a simple technology of clean and dry plastic bottles stuffed with clean, dry non recyclables and used as bricks. Greyton Transition Town and the Red Cross are on the hunt for stuffed bottles to build the new youth centre in Hewelkroon.
Many people in Greyton have already taken ownership of the products they buy- separating their recyclables and eco bricking the non recyclables. Now all we need are collection bins and some initiative from people who are still sending their chemical leaching waste to the landfill.
After getting creative with some kids and tyres,we have created some eco brick eating bins that will be put around Greyton hungry for clean and dry plastic! Look out for the colourful tyre stacks and get stuffing! We want as many bottles converted to these effcient eco bricks as you can manage to produce.
by: Candice Mostert
There is no doubt that the aims and objectives of Greyton Transition Town are to include everyone in the Ward 2 Area and also to occasionally surprise people with their local impact. Seen as a group focused on sustainability, it is all too easy to forget that the community not only needs access to food, water and fuel security, but also to JOY.
The on-going work at Krige Bridge and river by GTT is a fabulous example of how some effort, a little investment and supportive members can provide emotional happiness and by doing so encourage an overt expression of joy from the simple environmental gains that mean so much.
Local children have already rediscovered that the clean beach and sandy bottomed river offers a natural break from the hot sun, let’s hope that more people visit and also invest their time by keeping it clean and attractive to all.
On that note, please recover any litter that may appear and encourage any users to ensure their by products are taken home with them for safe and responsible disposal to try to ensure all that we leave behind are footprints.
Water as we all know is a resource we need to survive, and as such we need to appreciate it in all its forms – yes even the rain!
It is with rivers as it is with people: the greatest are not always the most agreeable nor the best to live with.
Greyton sits on a flood plain and as such can be described as a wet town. Water management is therefore critical in order to avoid damage from excess as well as from insufficient. The result is a series of water roués in and around the town that provide nourishment for food and the soul. To the south of the town, on the Krige road, a bridge crosses the Riviersonderend River. It is a wide crossing over sandy bottomed river, surrounded by the mountains and trees. Valued for many years by locals and visitors as a place to relax, swim and fish, it has, since the great floods of 2010, been clogged with debris and trees, putting off people from utilising this fabulous amenity and placing the river under stress from further entrapped materials.
Greyton Transition were sponsored by a swallow to employ local men under the guidance of GTT board member Rohan Millson to remove the wood and mess and make the area safe for all to enjoy. The men obtained meaningful work, the wood was collected and taken to the Transition Green Waste area at the dump for conversion to compost, or chopped into firewood and used by the helpers to fuel their stoves for food and warmth.
Let’s hope that the community and GTT members all make good use of this site and help to keep it pristine and show it off to visitors and local alike.
Creating interest and raising funds for Greyton Transition Town Music in Schools Project was the background to local eclectic eatery Searles generously opening their doors and providing a stage for the playing of renowned Austrian cellist Erich and the accompanying dancing by his wife Tanya.
Unfortunately, their planned visit to local schools earlier in the day did not materialise due to car problems en route from Cape Town. However, the hosts, MIAGI (Music Is A Great Investment) have pledged to more than make up for the disappointment and their Director, Robert Brook, plans to visit Greyton and Genadendal within the next few weeks to speak to schools about a programme of bringing fine music to the children and young people of this area.
At Searles a full house was left with a unique impression of how the cello can be used to promote interpretative dance, whilst enjoying a three course meal of local fare.
Greyton Transition extends a special thank you to all involved.
After only eight months as an official NGO, Greyton Transition Town has attracted attention from local and regional government.
TWK Municipality have invited GTT to join their 2030 Vision which will see the region moving rapidly towards sustainability over the next 18 years.
A few weeks ago, Greyton Transition Town was invited to become a flagship project for the 110% Green Initiative established by Premier Helen Zille for the Western Cape.
The importance being given to these two programmes shows that finding a way of living more sustainably has become a priority in the Western Cape.
As the Premier said at the launch of the 110% Green Initiative in June:
‘The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2012 predicts that we will need two planets by 2030 if we continue with “business as usual”. That’s not an option. We have to change the way we grow our economies and the way we use our natural resources to support this growth’.
Indeed, South Africa is leading the world in many areas of sustainability but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some black spots and it is good to know that Greyton is in a position to influence thinking and potentially have an impact on policy.
As a discrete geographical area, our progress is relatively easy to monitor, so over the next coming months our focus will be to persuade regional and national government to assist us in breaking down barriers towards sustainability and help us to become a model that can be replicated throughout South Africa.
As a result of these developments, GTT needs to expand its executive team. We are looking for volunteers with expertise or experience in the following areas:
We also welcome support from anybody prepared to offer one or two hours per week to assist with general projects and planning.
Contact Nicky Vernon on 082 558 7752 or email@example.com
The visit of the three students from Schumacher College is coming to a close and it is good to reflect on all that they have achieved during their stay.
Megan and Charles have set Emil Weder School in Genadendal on the first steps to becoming an Eco-School. Most of the requirements for this status have now been met and the rest will be completed before they leave.
The Eco-Crew of nine pupils from the school has been meeting regularly and enjoying many experiences under the guidance of Megan and Charles including a trip to Hermanus to collect shark eggs, learning about the medicinal herbs of the fynbos, supporting GTT’s work with younger children during the school holidays, cooking vegetarian food, learning how to plan events and to raise funding for them. They composed an Eco-Rap which they performed at a recent night market and which will be reprised at the Trash to Treasure Festival on August 4th.
Individuals and organisations have stepped forward to work with the group once the students have left. Many more youngsters from Emil Weder now want to join and the group will expand and develop within the framework of the Emil Weder eco-school. Megan, who is based in Cape Town, will return once a month to ensure the on-going success of the project.
Joseph, who is doing his Masters in waste management in small communities, has written an article in this paper about the Trash to Treasure Festival taking place on August 4th. Already the Greyton dumpsite is beginning to look a little tidier and the chipping business is starting to become sustainable as chippings are sold and the income used to pay the two men who are stacking and preparing the wood for the chipper.
With the transformation of the dump into a festival venue, Joseph is helping us to see how waste can be a source of wealth when managed efficiently. It is a challenge to change a mindset in such a short time but he has risen to the task with enthusiasm, focus and commitment.
Charles is working with TWK to devise a lesson plan for their 2030 Strategy and Elgin Learning Foundation is keen to develop the plastic bottle brick project as a means of building homes from non-recyclable trash. The Foundation is also supporting plans to create household and community vegetable gardens in our more vulnerable communities where food security is becoming a serious issue.
As a result of the students’ activities within the community, Greyton Transition Town is becoming ever more inclusive with projects in Genadendal, Boesmanskloof, Heuwelkroon and some starting up in Bereaville and Vorsterkraal.
We are beginning to see the ethos of transition being adopted by businesses, organisations and individuals throughout Greyton. It’s not about a central organisation, although it is necessary to have a core, but about transition becoming intrinsic in everybody’s lives. We can no longer afford to be the throwaway, consumer led society that we have always been. It’s time for change!
In last month’s Sentinel, due to space constraints, contact numbers for garden waste removals were referred to but not included. These are now listed again below:
1. Greyton Compost. Victor Everson 071 321 7292
2. Greyton Organics: Alex Camillieri 079 841 3111
3. Country Gardens (Monique Hess): 082 424 5035
4. S & J Plot Clearing (Sakkie Groenewald): 076 614 6370
5. Greyton Property Management Services (Nicky Vernon): 082 558 7752
6. Pin-Cushion Landscaping & Irrigation (Hennie Loubser): 072 532 6005
We are working hard to find a business model that will allow both Greyton and Genadendal to profit from waste management. We are receiving expert advice from financiers, with a connection to Greyton, on Community Owned Enterprises. These provide for the whole community to buy into, as shareholders, the management of facilities such as renewable energy sources, sustainable building and waste management. We will show that ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ and, with the support of TWK and our expert volunteers, we are producing a business plan to present to the banks
There is no reason why dumps should be unsightly either. As we move closer to zero waste, our dump sites can become waste processing sites with most of the work hidden behind new edible forests and wildlife-friendly wetlands.
We are currently setting up a small garden waste processing facility at the dump. With support from Cape Nature, the chipper is coming once a week to convert all the branches and tree prunings to chips. These are for sale at R100 a bakkie load or R10 a large bag. A load for a trailer costs R200. Chips can also be delivered for an additional R50. Please support this new business and help us make it viable.
For further info please contact Nicky Vernon on 082 558 7752.
Thanks to some volunteers who have great knowledge about plants and trees we are closer to planting our first trees for the edible forest and the transformation of our dump to a place of beauty that we all want to visit.
Alex Camillieri moved to Greyton from Cape Town only six months ago but he has already spotted an opportunity to work here thanks to the transition initiative.
As a keen member of GTT’s Incredible Edible task team, he has played an active role in establishing the fresh produce exchange, buy and sell table outside Via’s every Wednesday. Through his involvement, he realised that people are very keen to buy organic, locally grown vegetables.
‘What is so crazy’, he says, ‘ is that beautiful organic vegetables are grown in the fertile fields between Greyton and Genandendal, then most are bought by an outside agency which collects them, carries them 100 kms away where they are packaged in styrofoam and clingwrap. Then some of that produce finds its way back to Greyton, a few days older, having been handled by several people and wrapped in non-recyclable packaging that ends up on our dump. The customer pays extra for the privilege of buying something grown in our own backyard and that money goes out of the village’.
Alex has been visiting local growers, from residents with vegetable gardens to smallholders and farmers, including the Genadendal Farmers’ co-operative, to find out what they can supply. He has visited village shops and restaurants and talked to villagers to find out what they want.
Now he is putting supply and demand together under the banner of his new business, Greyton Organics.
‘I see part of my job is to encourage local growers’, he adds. ‘If we can support them to grow organic produce for the local market we can soon meet demand from shops, restaurants and villagers’.
Everybody wins in this enterprise. Because no transport or packaging has to be added to costs, Alex can afford to pay local farmers a reasonable price whilst still keeping the cost of the organic produce on a par with imported, packaged, non-organic produce. At the same time he makes money so the business is sustainable.
As if all that isn’t enough work, Alex has also rented a field at the Blue Hippo where he is growing his own supply of organic vegetables. Neat furrows have been planted, by hand, with thousands of seeds. Small sprouts of onion, cabbage, spinach, carrots, artichokes and much more are beginning to appear.
He is currently talking to an investor who may help him purchase a second hand bakkie, vital to the growth of his business. We wish him every success in his endeavour. Alex is happy to be contacted for further information. His number is 079 841 3111.
Our Town Manager, Jeremy Prins, has written an article in this paper about waste. He, together with the Conservation Society and Greyton Transition Town, has been working hard to try to find solutions to the ever-growing mountain of waste that threatens to overwhelm our village.
The problem is – we throw our waste away. But where is ‘away’? Think about it.
There is no ‘away’. Every single item of waste that we have generated over the last ten years is still here. In this village.
That plastic bag from Woolworth’s that you carried home in 2001 – still here. That styrofoam pack holding broccoli covered in clingwrap that you bought from Pick ‘n Pay in 1999 – still here. All our rubbish, thousands and thousands of tons of waste – it’s all still here.
Thanks to the arrival of Boetie Bantom’s business, some of this waste is now going out of the village. On Wednesdays, Boetie collects anything that can be recycled. Plenty of information has been circulated about what can and cannot be recycled but it is worth repeating here.
The Greyton dump is now no longer open for household waste or building rubble. This must all be taken to Genandenal where facilities and employment opportunities are being created to deal with the rubbish that we just cannot deal with ourselves in an environmentally friendly manner.
The Greyton dump is now open only for garden waste. Signposts are being erected and an area has been marked out where we can take our garden waste.
Cape Nature Conservation has just started bringing in a chipper on a weekly basis and it will reduce your garden waste to chips which you are welcome to use for your new compost pile or as mulch in your garden. A small charge will be levied to cover costs.