Environmental and Planning Update

18 Aug

Fairhills on the march for the environment

Reclamation projects

Rawsonville is a gorgeous region; we however have an ongoing battle with plant invaders in the region. Working for Water (an project driven by die Departement of Water Affairs and Forestry in South Africa since 1995) has done much to clear these invaders from our river courses, permitting additional run-off. Without these water-hungry invasive trees, particularly Black Wattle, our rivers no longer run dry during the long, hot summer months. However, new tree growth is rife and without follow-up action, these weeds return to rob us of a precious natural resource.

Fairhills has embarked on projects to plant indigenous vegetation to stop the repopulation of invaders. Indigenous seed banks have been depleted in most river banks and thus a helping hand is needed to aid nature to get our river courses back to a more natural state. Two farms, Lorraine and Edelsdale, have already started these projects.

Human activity zones are also being improved. This will not only help unlock Agri-tourism potential through beautification, but have a positive psychological impact on all residents. On Lorraine in particular, the feeling of additional pride in their surroundings is evident amongst staff. Additional trees from the reclamation projects are to be given to staff members for planting around staff housing areas.

Deciduous tree projects (planting trees which shed their leaves annually) in human activity areas will reduce energy consumption through summer shading, whilst allowing winter sun through. This project also facilitates carbon footprint reduction and turns Fairhills farms into carbon sinks, reducing global warming.

Fairhills Secure of  Tenure Project

It is important that the need for ownership be addressed. Fairhills has identified land to provide Secure of Tenure, in other words, ownership, to the staff of the members’ farms. This is a lengthy process, but design and approval phases are in progress.

Fairhills also wishes to address housing needs within our community alongside the need for agricultural land. This requires the support of the Department of Land Restitution and Rural Development. This will entail the building of homes for the Fairhills community. No longer will our members be subject to the restrictions and lack of security one has from not owning one’s own home. A retirement facility is being investigated, to provide a safe haven for those Fairhills’ members no longer employed due to old-age.

We are engaging with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to identify Rawsonville as one of the province’s nine rural development zones, to further the upliftment of our community and our members.

Environmental Policy

Fairhills now has their own environmental policy that is aligned with the guidelines laid out by Fairtrade’s FLO-Cert guidelines. However, the Fairhills Environmental and Planning policy is a much more comprehensive document. This allows producers to plan their developments on their properties, properly implement sound chemical practices and aims to guide aesthetics, to facilitate growth in agri-tourism.

It contains a guide to reducing energy usage, how to stop invasive vegetation, how to intelligently plant both vineyards and tree projects, which areas of a farm should be preserved in a natural state and how to deal with all aspects of chemical use.

Currently, this policy document is being printed and will be handed to producers to act as a regulatory document to improve our environmental credentials and guide our sustainable farming practices.

*Written by Andres de Wet

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