Fortress REIT Limited, the JSE-listed property group, has funded a year-long “Trees for Homes” programme run by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) in Sebokeng, a township in southern Gauteng. This forms part of a broader food security, environmental sustainability and greening programme aimed at benefiting communities living in close proximity to some of its flagship properties.
The programme was kick-started by a workshop, which took place on 15th of May, and was facilitated by FTFA a leading Section 21 Non-Profit Organisation. The workshop involved training local Community Educators (CEs) to act as tree stewards who will assist community members in caring for newly planted trees. On the 22nd of May, 500 homeowners identified by the CE’s received a bag of compost and two fruit trees, which were grafted to the stems of small trees with stronger roots to increase their chances of survival.
“Homeowners were shown how to plant the tree and how to trim the trees so that they will be able to easily collect fruit from the tree in a year or so time,” said Ms Jodie Ellinor-Dreyer of Fortress. “It is quite something to see the trees being carried by members of the community to their new homes. We look forward to seeing the fruit trees blossom in September and bring joy to the community.”
The “Trees for Homes” tree distribution day was hosted by Qhoweng primary school, where attendees were warmly welcomed by Principal Motaung and a contingent of enthusiastic learners. All of the 20 CEs who completed their training received their certificates, which were handed to them by Ms Sindi Majija. The event was followed up with a visit by a team of Fortress employee volunteers who visited participating households to assist with the planting of trees.
“As the team bus left the school and drove through the community it was heart-warming seeing members planting their fruit trees in their gardens, some were even planting their trees together in a field near the school,” said Ellinor-Dreyer. “The team were even able to plant trees in an elderly gentleman’s home.”
The “Trees for Homes” programme forms part of a broader Eco-cluster and community mobilisation programme being rolled out by Fortress and FTFA at schools and communities living in proximity to its Evaton Mall property, which serves as a regional shopping destination for the people of Sebokeng.
“Companies such as Fortress ensure significant long term community impact by enabling targeted and combined programmes in one geographic area,” comments Emily Jones, Trees & Carbon Manager for FTFA. “It has been incredible to work with them to implement a range of programmes in Evaton and Sebokeng.”
FTFA’s EduPlant School Gardening and Nutrition programme focusses on schools and surrounding communities and uses permaculture techniques to grow food and improve nutrition in under-resourced communities while at the same time promoting sustainability and environmental awareness. The programme supplies learners and surrounding communities with resources such as seeds, herbs, trees as well as gardening tools, educational materials and mentorship in order to help them become more self-sufficient.
Fortress has since committed to similar interventions in Vredenburg in the Western Cape, planting 2100 trees and supporting 2 long term food gardens. This intervention will kick off in June 2019.