Zandvlei Trust

Green Gym 4 Teens - July 2010.
Nature-based activities for children, youth and families in the Greater Zandvlei area
By Alice Ashwell.

Zandvlei Nature Reserve held an open day on Saturday 31 July 2010, and Geography teacher Sue Swann brought a group of girls from Fish Hoek High School to participate in the first "Green Gym" activity for teenagers, coordinated by myself.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                   photograph by Alice Ashwell

Erin Versveld and friends from Fish Hoek High     Sandy Wilbraham, Layne Milne, Sue Swann,
School looking for birds on the north bank           Sarah Gilson, Erin Versveld and Caterina Gouws.
of Zandvlei.

During the introdutory circle, I asked the girls why they had decided to attend the programme, and Caterina Gouws explained that in her case, it was her 14th birthday and she wanted to do something really memorable on that day. Other girls said that they loved nature and trees and had been attracted by the opportunity to plant some plants in the nature reserve.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                                   photograph by Alice Ashwell 

Sarah shows Caterina the tiny flower she found on her        Reserve Manager Cassy Sheasby shows Sarah
rare Cliffortia strobilifera plant.                                         and Layne how to plant their indigenous plants
                                                                                     around the seasonal wetland.

Only one of the girls (Erin Versveld, who had helped with the Zandvlei Nature Circle activities during the school holidays) had ever been to the reserve before, so we started off with an orientation walk to see the main vlei. The girls led themselves on this walk using my GPS. The walk gave us all a healthy appetite, so we had a tea break before selecting indigenous plants to plant around the seasonal wetland behind the nursery. Each of the girls chose one species that they felt especially attracted to. They observed their plant closely, sharing with the group what it was that had attracted them to that species, and read up about it from notes compiled by reserve manager Cassy Sheasby. We then went to explore the wetland area to see if we could find our plants growing there, so we could find out what conditions they preferred growing in. At that point Cassy joined us and showed us where and how to plant the plants.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                                             photograph by Alice Ashwell 

Caterina and Sarah seek out the soft sand where the molerats   Fish Hoek High School teacher Sue Swann
have been busy to plant their indigenous plants.                        planted the beautiful sea rose (Orphium
                                                                                             frutescens) in the seasonal wetland.

photograph by Alice Ashwell                                                                            photograph by Alice Ashwell  

Sandy helping to restore the seasonal wetland area behind       Planters triumphant! Birthday girl Caterina
the nursery at Zandvlei.                                                         (in wheelbarrow) surrounded by her friends
                                                                                           Layne, Sandy and Sarah.

The girls had tremendous fun planting, taking photographs (watch out FaceBook, here we come!), and having rides in the wheelbarrow! According to them, it was a lot more fun than going to the mall! They thoroughly enjoyed the experience of planting, and are looking forward to visiting in future to see how their young plants are doing.

Alice Ashwell.


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