On April 6, 2016, approximately 70 people attended the Klapmuts Tree-preneur Ceremony, which celebrated the success of this programme that supports local ecological sustainability.Tree-preneurs earn their bicycles by growing indigenous trees through a programme run in partnership with Qhubeka, Wildlands, Spier Wine Farm and the Pedal Power Association.
The trees grown by the 12 bicycle recipients will be transplanted throughout Klapmuts. A local councilor said her goal was to turn the relatively barren Klapmuts landscape into a Constantia or Rondebosch “where there are trees everywhere.”
Event attendees included local political and community leaders, programme sponsors, families and students/teachers from Klapmuts Primary School.
Ten of the Qhubeka bicycles were distributed to students from Klapmuts Primary School who participate in the Tree-preneurs programme, while the other two bicycles were earned by adults in the Tree-preneurs programme.
The event emphasised the importance of the Klapmuts local environment and ecology. In addition to several presentations and speeches, the event featured a live snake show. Attendees planted five trees on the property of GTR Construction, which hosted the ceremony.
Gordon Wentzel of GTR Construction hosted the event. He supports Tree-preneurs programme and has donated space for a nursery (previously used as a garage) on his property. He welcomed everyone and said an opening prayer.
Darryl Dreyer, Public Relations Officer for the Million Trees Project, Bome Imithi Trees (an initiative of the Stellenbosch Municipality) noted that the Stellenbosch community understands what it’s like to live with nature. He believes that the Tree-preneur programme has the potential to become a major industry in the future, as nature becomes part of the economy.
“The Green Economy here is a physical practice,” he said. “By growing and planting trees, the Tree-preneurs and everybody involved is giving back to our municipality.”
The Stellenbosch Municipality initiated the “Million Trees” project in 2013, aimed at greening the communities that fall within the municipal boundaries and restoring the ecosystems which underwrite the health and livelihood of these communities.
Lesley Joemat, Project Manager: Tree-preneurs, Spier Wine Farm, said, “For me this isn’t a project, it’s a reality, a way of life. We are here to stay in Klapmuts. It’s about giving when you earn it. Duncan (picture in the center above), one of the adult bicycle recipients today, has contributed 529 trees to the programme over five years. He earned his second bicycle today.”
Joemat added that the programme needs community involvement and donors like Gordon Wentzel. “This is the beauty of people coming together,” she said. “If we come together like we have in Klapmuts, we create sustainability, pride and education with programme participants.”
She explained how the programme works. “It starts with seeds, we care for them, they propagate, we create entrepreneurs, establish a bartering system for Qhubeka bikes, and directly make an impact on the economy. We have a network that works for communities. It’s about creating opportunities for individuals and, ultimately, communities. We all win when we contribute to nature. Let’s stir the pot. Let’s all get involved in improving our community.”
Eric Showell, from World Bicycle Relief (WBR) added that the programme has distributed more than 700 bikes through Tree-preneurs in the municipality during the past four years. To earn a bicycle, a participant must grow 200 trees to a size of 30cm.
Steve Rudner from Force of Good sent us photos and was present at the event, “Shane and Karel travel 5km and 2km respectively each way to Klapmuts Primary School,” he says. “At first, they were shy about putting on the Qhubeka helmet and getting on their new bike – almost in disbelief that the bikes were theirs. It only took a little encouragement to let them know it was okay and that these bikes were now theirs to ride and use in whatever way they wanted. They promised to always wear their helmets while riding (they were fascinated by how the helmets adjusted with the knob in the back) and said the locks we provided were especially helpful so they can protect their well-earned bicycles. Their laughter and smiles were infectious. You can see the pride in their faces in the photos.”