Last week saw the first major sale of indigenous trees grown from seed by school children participating in the Trees for School Fees project.
School children and parents from communities in KwaJobe, adjacent to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in Zululand, received a total of R28 000 for their saplings, which were collected over a two day period by volunteers from Unilever, who also sponsored the vehicles. A consignment of trees was delivered to Robyndale Nursery in Kloof outside Durban, while the balance remained at the mother nursery at the Muzi Pan Adventure Centre near St Lucia.
Wildlands Conservation Trust is appealing to South Africans to support the project by purchasing the trees. Indigenous trees are perfect for gardens as they require less water and care, and attract local birds and insects. By buying these trees, people can also contribute to the economic upliftment of poverty-stricken rural people.
Many children have lost parents to illness and the income they receive from their trees is vital. About 175 growers – including schools, homesteads and individuals – are enthusiastically supporting the programme.
‘Wherever we went, people came to greet us with their trees. Many met us on the road, carrying their little trees,’ said Charmaine Veldman, project leader.
‘The money earned in this way is used to pay school fees. We encourage learners to use what is left over for uniforms and stationery. Sometimes there is enough to contribute towards the family income.’
Initial payouts were funded by Investec and limited to R200 per grower. The sustainability of the initiative will depend on response from the public.
‘We are about to buy our next consignment and we are looking for people who want to buy them,’ said Veldman. ‘We are happy to sell anything from a single tree to hundreds.’
Anyone interested in buying the trees can contact Charmaine Veldman or Richard Mabaso on (035) 562-0061 or 084 5565885. A detailed price list is available from the Khula Village information office – tel: (035) 550-4072 or contact Robyndale Nurseries on (031) 764-6328.