Helping Hout Bay Thrive
Last month, Seed ventured out the office to do something that we believe every company should do as often as possible. We know that there are many different ways businesses can do good; this time, we decided to take the ground up approach and help out at a local non-profit organisation known as Thrive.
Situated in Hout Bay, Thrive encourages individuals to make a difference that will benefit the environment – and those who reside in it – through environmental awareness events and action projects. One such project is the growth of organic vegetables. These vegetables are grown sustainably in a series of gardens situated around Hout Bay and sold at the Thrive Organic Market and Hout Bay Farmers Market.
Our day began at Valley Farmstall where we met with Bronwen, Coordinator and Founding Director of Thrive, who provided us with an overview of what the organisation does as well as its history before leading us to the nearest vegetable garden. There we spent an hour or so helping Thrive’s talented farmer harvest all kinds of delicious vegetables including spinach, peas, tomatoes, lettuce and onions.
Next we travelled with Naomi, a teacher at Hout Bay High School and fellow Thriver, to the Hout Bay Police Station where she showed us the incredible courtyard garden they had built. It was amazing to see how many vegetables and herbs can be grown in such a small space. After collecting a few more vegetables, we made our way with Naomi’s guidance to the Hout Bay High which boasts a spectacular vegetable garden of its own.
The garden forms part of Thrive’s School-orientated Eco Projects and incorporates the 5 Thrive Pillars of sustainability to help schools take action, reduce their carbon footprints and act as role models to their wider communities. These Pillars include managing waste effectively, starting and maintaining veggie gardens (as well as fruit and nut orchards), introducing water-saving practices and devices, as well as planting indigenous plants which encourage local species of birds and insects.
Thrive believes that it’s important to teach children and teens how to be part of and cultivate healthy eco systems that protect the environment as this in turn helps create food security and positively influences the children’s health and livelihoods.
Naomi explained to us that every Friday after school, a group of students devote their afternoon and evening to getting their hands dirty to prepare the produce for the weekend’s markets. Of course, we were on the scene to do just that which meant that the students were free to do their own thing for the afternoon; and though they didn’t complain, the kids were more than willing to stick around and help out with any tasks that presented themselves. We were really blown away by their friendliness and enthusiasm.
One young chap in grade eleven told us about his plans to become a Marine Scientist while he helped us clean spring onions for the market. Naomi later revealed that the boy is one of four students who take Physics as a subject at the school. “There isn’t a lot to do for the kids here outside of school,” she said. “So many of them get up to trouble on the weekend. Unfortunately there is a culture of alcohol abuse in the neighbourhood. So we try to give them something to do that’s productive. The vegetable garden helps with that. It’s something that they can be part of . . . We also try to give all the helpers something to take home at the end of the week.”
Naomi explained that, for her, being part of the Thrive initiative isn’t about money or accolades but rather doing something that makes her feel good and gives back to the community. “It’s what keeps me sane,” she told us.
I think that all of us were able to see where Naomi was coming from after spending a few hours washing and packing the vegetables (which all looked and smelt incredible, we might add!). In today’s consumer-driven world, everything is about instant gratification – so much so that we often lose sight of where our food comes from and how much time and effort goes into growing, packing and preparing it for us to enjoy.
Leaving Thrive that afternoon, we couldn’t help but feel a greater sense of appreciation. Growing your own veggie garden is something that requires plenty of love and a little preparation. But ultimately it’s something all of us can do. Thrive’s initiative isn’t just about sustainability in the environmental sense, however. Really, it’s about changing people’s lives and planting seeds of inspiration and hope – and that’s something we’re keen to be a part of.
If you’d like to volunteer at Thrive, all you have to do is get in touch. Visit www.thrive.org.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.