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515 days ago
Greenpop Plants Trees To Kick Start Their Social Responsibility Project.

On October 20th Greenpop was invited by NCC, KEC, and Eskom to join them in the town of Merweville in the Karoo on 20 October 2012 for their Social Responsibility Initiative that involves tree planting, a community lunch, football, and more.

The stakeholders sponsored 50 indigenous and fruit trees, as part the 765 kV Gamma Kappa B Corporate Social Investment, the Contractor (KEC) implemented a “greening” of community areas which have been and remain integral to the construction of the new Eskom line.

The community of Merweville was at the centre of the planning process and worked closely with Kieran King from NCC to decide where they wanted to plant trees and who would care for them going forward. They were dedicated to digging all 50 holes prior to the event through very hard ground. As Cindy Spencer, Merweville resident and one of the organisers of the plant day put it, “I have lived in Merweville for 17 years and have always dreamed of planting trees en masse. So meeting Kieran King in our main road, by chance, was obviously meant to be. The consistently good attitude towards digging the holes kept everyone involved going and rubbed off onto others. Even the local senior citizens started getting involved and battled through hard rock to dig nine holes. All of which have a beautiful tree now. They are now committed to watering them, because of achieving the hard challenge of digging through the rocky terrain.”

Greenpop was brought on to host the day, organise the trees, and add an element of fun for all involved through their interactive and educational planting processes.

According to Carolin Schmitt, a volunteer on the day, “We had a great plant day in Merweville! Although the weather wasn’t that good for us, it was good for the trees. The highlight after the planting was the original Merweville food, delicious, absolutely fantastic! It was a wonderful day; the people made it special, and the smile on the children faces made me happy. Thanks GREENPOP, it was fantastic!”

The plant day began on the soccer field at the Merweville stadium with a planting demonstration. With everyone excited, the large group of community members and volunteers were split into three planting groups. One group planted 22 trees at the local cemetery. The other two groups split the remaining trees amongst themselves. Trees were planted at Merweville stadium, at a community church, a local crèche, the local clinic and at Merweville Primary School. “This was a beautiful example of community coming together to beautify their commons and celebrate,” said Sean Spender, Plant Manager at Greenpop of the planting done and the surrounding community.

After the tree planting, a friendly football match between Merweville All-stars and a team from Prince Albert took place, while volunteers watched. Cecelia a Greenpop volunteer watched and was amazed at the football players’ talent after the planting, “The kids were really excited about the event and wanted to help out in any way they could. They stepped up and were heavily involved in every step of the planting. We felt very welcome and everyone enjoyed themselves. I was amazed how good the football players were and how delicious and fun the braai was as well.“

As the day drew to a close, 150 community members and volunteers shared a major feast that was made by the local community of Merweville as we all gathered together at the sports grounds. Misha Teasdale, Greenpop Director and Facilitator of the Plant Day, said of the complete experience, “It was such a great way to experience community coming together and creating green spaces that have benefit for all. The partnerships that made it all happen really illustrated how big business can make the triple bottom line happen while integrating community and celebrating our amazing diversity all in one afternoon.”

For Eskom, KEC (the contractor) and NCC (the environmental consultants), community involvement and commitment is crucial to the success and sustainability of the project. This will be ensured through ongoing engagement with the community stakeholders and monitoring of the trees’ growth.

Kieran King, The Environmental Manager at NCC wishes to express gratitude, “It was a great privilege and pleasure to engage and celebrate with the community of Merweville, a special thank you to Rev. Minnes and Cindy Spencer. Thanks also needs to be expressed to KEC International, GreenPop, and the festive people from No Danger Diaries, without whom the planting would not have been achieved.”

This Social Responsibility initiative by NCC, KEC and Eskom aims to give back something that may still be appreciated by inspectors of the line in 20 years’ time, and the planting that took place there has already left an impact on volunteers that participated, like Darryl Dreyer, a Greenpop intern, stating, “Merweville was a breathtaking experience, a little town in the middle of the Karoo with lots of wonderful kids. It was an awesome day and experience and a chance to plant trees with a great group of people. It is something that will forever stay fondly in my memory.”

As well as leaving an already noticeable impact on the community, there were also other lasting benefits. According to Cindy Spencer, “One of the spin offs from the tree planting in Merweville is that 5 cooks and helpers have created a cooking group (with happy laughter, they called it Food Pop). The soccer group got together to make a team for gardening. The little children have met, black bags in hand, to pick up litter in the community. Every third Saturday they are rewarded with an ice cream cone.

And the groundsman of the school has started a lemon tree project from “seed growing”, with the aim that everyone will have a lemon tree in their garden.”

 

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