Coltivatrici di bellezza

Dove: Agulhas Plain, Cape, South Africa.

Chi: Grootbos

Dalle serre al management 11 donne nell’ecoturismo comunitario


Nella regione del Capo in Sud Africa, nella riserva protetta per la biodiversità di Agulhas Plain, quello che era nato come un semplice b+b si è trasformato negli anni in un lodge curatissimo e prenotatissimo. Ma la “mission” è sempre la stessa: conservare le tecniche di coltura agricola tradizionali e formare la comunità locale. Tutto all’insegna dell’ ecoturismo. Perciò, oltre alle escursioni e le esperienze, come il safari in jeep, a cavallo sulla spiaggia, a piedi nella foresta, o in volo a vedere le balene in uno scenario mozzafiato, gli ospiti prendono parte al lavoro nelle serre (dove il 97% di specie sono autoctone), sostenendo la flora e la fauna, i progetti di educazione e di opportunità di lavoro del Sud Africa.

Il Progetto che aiuta la Comunità si chiama Growing the Future mentre quello più recente dedicato alle donne si chiama Growing the Future Food Production and Life Skills College. Questo prepara otto donne ogni anno in agricoltura organica, frutteto, apicoltura, pastorizia. Metà delle lezioni sono su computer, salute e prevenzione dall’Aids, matematica, scrittura. I frutti dei raccolti sono venduti alle cucine del Lodge, dove la cucina è al top anche grazie alla freschezza. In totale, ogni anno undici ragazze escono dai corsi: oggi sono 10 dei 19 impiegati e manager delle serre, del progetto per lo sport dei giovani, dei corsi.

Dall’intervista che abbiamo fatto ai manager emerge un progetto che andrebbe imitato.

What is Grootbos, in short, for the travelers?
We do not only offer stunning Lodges and eco-friendly tourist experiences but Grootbos and Green Futures also contribute a very important component in sustaining the beauty of South Africa and creating a healthy environment, where local communities benefit through education and thereafter developing business opportunities for themselves..
Grootbos in 14 years changed from B&B to a fully catered Lodge and offer a wide variety of activities, e.g. 4x4 jeep safaris, walks through the ancient Milkwood Forest and through the reserve, horse riding, land and boat-based whale watching. The latest activities are scenic flights that depart from our own landing strip to marvel at the giants of the ocean (Southern Right whales) from a different perspective as well as beach horse riding.

Can Grootbos be an example of community tourism?
Grootbos’s guides do a social responsibility tour which takes the guests to the Green Futures and Growing the Future projects.  If a guest wishes to see a township, Grootbos does arrange for a guide to show them around Masakhane. Grootbos employs approximately 100 employees, which includes reception, guides, housekeeping, waitrons, chefs, porters, gardeners etc, 80% of whom come from the local communities.

How are women involved?
We’re running the Green Futures and Growing the Future projects on Grootbos.  Growing the Future is aimed specifically at teaching women sustainable agricultural techniques and is in its second year of operation.  We’ve produced 8 graduates from the projects and hope that all 8 of our ladies will graduate at the end of the year.  Green Futures is more focused on horticulture, and includes landscaping.  The work, therefore, is physically much harder.  On average, we have three ladies who do the course annually.  Our Green Futures and Growing the Future projects therefore train approximately 11 women annually, which means that over half of our direct beneficiaries are women.  Green Futures is in its 8th year of operation and has produced approximately 80 graduates this far.

What are their jobs?
The Foundation has gone to great lengths to empower women. Of the Grootbos Foundation’s 19 employees, 10 are women.  Both Green Futures ’s lecturer’s, the Football Foundation’s Project Manager are women.  Two of our Green Futures graduates have been employed by the Foundation and occupy management positions, one of whom is the Green Futures nursery manager and the other is the Life Skills Trainer at Growing the Future.  She is also co-managing the Growing the Future project with the Agricultural trainer.

How is the Gender Project organised?

Following the success of the Green Futures model, the Grootbos Foundation launched

the Growing the Future Food Production and Life Skills College on Women’s Day in

2009. This training programme aims to uplift women from the Stanford community,

training eight woman each year in vegetable growing, fruit, beekeeping and the

principles of successful animal husbandry. Subsistence farming has always been

integral to many South African cultures, but in recent years, as people have moved

from rural areas to the cities in search of work, many of these skills have been lost. The

training programme is 30% theoretical and 70% practical. The vegetable growing

training focuses on organic farming techniques and the women are trained in basic

soil science, soil improvement and preparation, propagation techniques, planting and

care of vegetables, seasonal planting, inter-planting, basic permaculture concepts,

organic feeding and pest control regimes. The women also receive practical training

in the farming of free-range eggs, free-range pig farming, beekeeping as well as in jam and preserve making. About half of the course content focuses on life skills

including literacy and numeracy, health and safety issues, an HIV/AIDS awareness

programme, basic computer skills, book keeping, money management and business

planning. The students are fully equipped, have access to transport and receive a

weekly stipend for living expenses from the foundation.

The produce from the project is sold by the foundation to the Grootbos lodge

kitchens, surrounding restaurants and at a local organic market. In this way the

women’s labour pays towards their tuition, Grootbos knows where and how its fresh

produce has been grown and Grootbos guests can see how their food is being locally

and organically produced.

What is Grootbos:
The Grootbos not for profit Foundation, was established during 2005 in order to run the non-profit activities of Grootbos Nature Reserve, a unique destination world-renowned for its eco tourism near Cape Town, South Africa. Grootbos Nature Reserve is situated on the Agulhas Plain in the heart of the Cape fynbos lowlands, a region of unprecedented biodiversity value, under extreme human pressures. Effective conservation of this, and our other unique natural areas, will only be possible if they can earn their keep. By this we mean that ways need to be found to deliver better financial returns from natural fynbos and marine landscapes rather than farmed or developed landscapes. Natural resources also need to be made more accessible to the poor so that all people can be educated about their uniqueness and inherent value. The story of Grootbos and its Foundation is a good news story that is tackling these very issues of responsible tourism and social upliftment from a beautiful nature reserve in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

What are the Objectives of the Foundation:

1. Engaging in conservation, rehabilitation and protection of the natural environment, including flora and fauna on Grootbos and in the Cape floristic region;

2. The promotion of, and education and training programs relating to, environmental awareness, greening, clean-up and sustainable development projects;

3. The provision of education by an adult education “college” aligned with the Agricultural Seta, including horticulture, conservation, ecotourism and life skills education;

4. Training unemployed women in sustainable agriculture and life skills development with the purpose of enabling graduates to grow and sell their own food;

5. Research including ecological, educational, social, scientific and technological research on conservation, rehabilitation or protection of the natural environment, including flora, fauna or the biosphere;

6. The development of sports facilities as a tool to integrate society, provide a healthy lifestyle for the youth and promote environmental awareness amongst all communities;

7. The utilization of income received from donors to pursue the above activities;

8. The development of an indigenous plant nursery that will generate income for the above activities.

It is vitally important to us to conserve this Cape region of South Africa, which has been called the hottest of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the crown jewel amongst the world’s flora. With over 9000 species of plants, some 70% of which are restricted to the region, there is no other flora comparable on Earth. Our marine environment is also home to a staggering diversity of life. The Foundations implementation strategy is based on three pillars: Conservation, Research and Development of Sustainable nature-based livelihoods through social responsibility projects. Projects are presently being implemented within each of these categories.


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