The Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club is a community-based initiative established in December 2014 to promote food production and food security in the neighbouring Kurland community. This community, bordering on the Garden Route section of the Tsitsikamma National Park, is a crucial stakeholder in the management of the natural resources within the park.
Given the prevailing economic climate in South Africa, most members of this community are subjected to high levels of poverty due to a lack of employment opportunities. The Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club was initiated by the NVT as a platform to share these gardeners’ indigenous knowledge and, in collaboration with the NVT, to present year-round workshops on how horticultural knowledge can promote self-sufficiency (i.e. food security) and help to alleviate the socio-economic problems that persist within the Kurland community.
As much as the NVT seeks to enable communities to be proactive in attempts to better their economic status, it is best if formal, operating structure are created that can be held accountable for the responsible management and sharing of resources and driving proactive campaigns to improve the economic status of community members. Furthermore, formal structures that collaborate with different stakeholders from outside the community towards realising a common goal can, potentially, result in cross-pollination of information pertaining to agriculture, thereby broadening the knowledge base overall.
Where once it was led by external drivers, the Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club has subsequently evolved into a self-sufficient organisation run and managed by its members. Through the years, the NVT has also shifted its role from taking the lead to nowadays only offering administrative assistance to the club. Currently, the club has twenty-five active members, each with their own backyard garden that supports three to five other families in the spirit of Ubuntu, meaning “I am, because you are”.
The NVT, along with its partners (the Tsitsi-Tuiniers, Bitou Municipality, Orca Foundation, Willing Workers in South Africa, Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment) has implemented a greening project in Kurland Village. Over time, this on-going project aims to establish a park for the community, and hitherto more than1 200 trees (indigenous and fruit-bearing) have been planted in this village alone.
In all instances, greening projects are preceded by a workshop facilitated by the NVT in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment to educate members of the community and learners on how best to plant and care for trees. Undoubtedly, these tree-planting events are one of the highlights on the NVT’s annual greening and community engagement calendar.
In support of International Coastal Cleanup Day, the NVT and its partners (Plastics SA; Tsitsi-Tuiniers; Bitou Municipality; Orca Foundation; Willing Workers in South Africa; Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre; Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Lunchbox Theatre; Renew Able Plett; Keep Plett Clean; Western Cape Government; Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency) host a clean-up event in Kurland Village and Plettenberg Bay to help collect trash along our coastline. Since its inception in 2009, no fewer than 100 participants have shown up time and time again to offer their support – a clear indication that the community, in general, supports this drive to keep our shorelines, estuaries and waterways free of debris.
 Based on the successes attained with the Kurland greening project, two similar greening projects have been implemented in Covie and Coldstream.