Pupils plant fynbos bird food garden

Cape Town - About 100 pupils from southern suburbs schools created a bird food fynbos garden by planting more than 200 indigenous plants on the eastern bank of Princess Vlei.

Hosted by the Princess Vlei Forum, local schools from areas bordering the vlei, Floreat Primary and Harmony Primary in Steenberg, John Graham Primary in Plumstead, Levana Primary in Lavender Hill, Hyde Park Primary in Fairways and Lotus High School in Lotus River, have been involved in cleaning up and rehabilitating the vlei for years.

Bridget Pitt, a forum conservationist, said: “For the past few months, the children have been learning about the birds at Princess Vlei through interactive workshops and a simulation game organised by the forum.

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CLEANING UP: Robin Tromp and Sasha-Lee Dysan from Levana Primary School in Lavender Hill clear litter from the banks of Princess Vlei, before getting down to some serious gardening. Pupils filled nine bags of litter. Pictures: Jill WilliamsDIGGING FOR POSTERITY: Pupils from John Graham Primary School in Plumstead take a breather before planting indigenous plants on the banks of Princess Vlei that will provide food for birds and insects.

“They have learnt about what birds need, and what threatens them. Planting a food garden gave them an opportunity to help the birds and other wildlife at the vlei, to beautify the area for the community, and to have fun.”

The forum was formed in 2012 out of a need to save the vlei from being turned into a shopping mall precinct. Since then, the forum has channelled its energy into working with the City of Cape Town to transform the vlei into a nature park, rehabilitate its natural systems and revitalise its infrastructure.

The 200 plants were sourced from species that are indigenous to the Cape Flats Dune Strandveld system and Cape Lowland Freshwater system.

“Many of these plants are endemic, threatened or endangered. Restoring the natural vegetation will attract pollinators and feeders, and help to restore the overall environmental health of the vlei while beautifying the area for the pleasure of recreational users.

“The plants have been selected with special attention to those which provide food for birds, in the form of seeds, fruit, nectar and insects attracted by the flowers,” said Pitt.

The project was supported by the Table Mountain Fund, volunteers from the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, forum volunteers, Pick * Pay and ward councillor Kevin Southgate.

Lotus River High Eco-club member, 15-year-old Nicole Anthony, said: “We don’t want to protect the environment, we want to create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting.”

Last week, pupils cleared nine bags of litter, and dug and planted. Tyler Williams, of Floreat Primary, said: “It was so fun coming to plant different types of plant and learn new plant names. Thank you to all the educators.”

* Send us your stories of how you are cleaning up your hood to [email protected]

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