Returning Oakhurst’s forests to indigenous
Spring at Oakhurst is always marked by a sudden burst of life on the farm. Birds are nesting, pastures are growing, cattle are feeding, there’s even a faint glimmer of daylight when farmer Jake heads off for dairy duty at 5.30am. It’s also a great time to plant a tree, or in our case, make that 15 trees.
Our sustainability plan focusses heavily on eradicating alien vegetation and systematically replacing it with indigenous. With this in mind we teemed up with the ever-energetic NPO, Precious Tree Project to carefully select a piece of Oakhurst, which could become the next new patch of indigenous forest.
So what’s Precious Tree project all about?
Precious Tree Project is an non-profit organisation, which was established in Wilderness in 2010 with one clear goal: To regenerate indigenous forest patches along the Garden Route, through working with private land owners, schools, corporate companies and small businesses. With a long term goal of growing and planting out one million trees in these areas collectively, Oakhurst seemed like the perfect substrate, and so our partnership was born.
Bring in the trees..and the planters
With a suitable site selected and our collection of trees purchased from Precious Tree Project, it was time to bring in the troops for a tree planting morning. By troops we mean Oakhurst guests! Yip, we managed to get word out to guests who were going to be on the farm at the time, that they were needed for a tree planting session. In true Oakhurst spirit, guests young and old arrived on a crisp Saturday morning, ready to get their hands dirty and help plant our new forest.
Into the ground they go
Under the watchful eye of Melissa from Precious Tree Project and farmer Jake, guests and Oakhurst crew get stuck into the hole digging, placing of trees and preparing these little saplings for their new home. Melissa dishes out containers of “worm juice” a dark coloured liquid extracted from composting processes. This is given in healthy quantities to the young trees, who’re bound to thrive on it in the early stages of their growth.
A forest for the future
While it may not look like much now, this little grove of indigenous trees links perfectly into the chain of Oakhurst’s natural diversity and long term sustainability. Unlike alien invader vegetation, indigenous trees restore biodiversity and expand the natural habitat for birds and wildlife. Most importantly they keep us on track towards our goal, to have Oakhurst entirely free of alien vegetation.
Our alien firewood project
This is an ongoing job. With the help of born and bred Touwsranten local, Nicholas Harmse and his team, who are equipped with chainsaws, axes, sprayers and a wealth of technical knowledge, we’re constantly targeting and eradicating the last pockets of black wattle on the farm. In stark contrast to the indigenous forest on Oakhurst, these patches of alien vegetation have virtually no birdlife or undergrowth, a clear sign as to how these invasive trees destroy biodiversity.
Nicholas and his team initially ring bark, clear and finally package firewood from the alien trees. It’s the same firewood which is available in the Oakhurst Farm Shop. So, next time you light a braai at your cottage, know that the wood you’re burning is all part of the Oakhurst sustainability plan.
Support Precious Tree Project
To Melissa and her team from Precious Tree Project, thanks for this super initiative, one which we’re so grateful to have contributed towards. This little patch of Oakhurst trees all adds to the bigger picture. To Oakhurst guests, past, present and future, if you’d like to get involved or donate to Precious Tree Project, visit them at precioustreeproject.org.za