Cape floral kingdom in Strandfontein

Strandfontein Primary School has a small piece of the Cape Floral Region in their playground, where pupils and sponsors have planted close to 2 000 floral species.

Pictured at the back, from left, are Strandfontein High School pupils Tiffany Tsoloane, Imaan Hector, Nuru-Nisa Kleinsmith, Caltia Duarte, Lamees Isaacs and Jada Hamburg. In front are groundsman John Ely, teacher Ezra Peters and Greenpop urban growing project manager Deon Louw.

They were nominated by non-profit-company Greenpop, which plants trees at about 350 sites in and around Cape Town, for a three-year collaboration called “Fynbos for the Future”. This involves clearing the space, to laying beds, planting, fencing in and completion of an outdoor classroom.

The class seats up to 40 pupils on tyres and under a pergola.

During the tenure they had six plant-days, the last having been on Friday November 5.

The Cape Floral Region is the smallest of the six floral kingdoms in the world, as well as the most endangered.

Laura-Leigh Marthinus, Zara Jade Mitchell, Yusuf Titus, Zuraida Williams, Jayden Roman, Lynzay Adams and Jayden Rowland, Grade 6 pupils.

According to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization the region is recognised as one of the most special places for plants in the world in terms of diversity, density and number of endemic species.

Teacher, Ezra Peters said the pupils were involved every step of the way and that the lessons included life sciences, natural sciences, codependency, interaction and seeing “nature taking care of itself”.

He said the pupils were so dedicated that despite attending school on alternate days, because of Covid-19 protocol, the loyal ones came on Friday to complete the planting.

Keayê Peters, Talent Mushate, Fatima Dienie and Nuru-Nisa Kleinshmith – Strandfontein primary school pupils.

The school established an environmental club, including 50 pupils, between Grades 4 to 7, in 2016 and within two-years, they signed a memorandum of agreement with Greenpop.

Greenpop urban growing project manager Deon Louw said they monitored their sites every six months and that many factors contributed to the site being successful.

It is on a school property, fenced in, with pupils who could tend to the garden and they could learn from the garden. He added that the psycho-social surveys done with the children during the project showed an improvement in their relationship with nature and green spaces.

Mr Louw said the plants had been specifically chosen because of their origins and self-sustaining ability.

He said it was a community of flora and fauna, including insects – like the Cape butterfly, bees and ants, animals like chameleon and lizard – who lived together in an ecosystem, each allowing the other to flourish.