Last Thursday, members of Aberdeen’s Garden and Social Club attended a very informative meeting, hosted by Judith and Tony Dardis.
Roelof and Lucille van der Merwe in turn explained their ideas for specific areas where the club members could help in their project to uplift Aberdeen, with particular emphasis on the garden areas of the town.
The van der Merwes already made a significant contribution to the town when they bought and renovated the historic building now housing Usave, which has proved a real asset to the town. Roelof also commissioned the Aberdeen promotional video, and sponsored what is hoped to be the first of many wall murals, next to the municipal offices.
The importance of the state of the public gardens to the image of a town was stressed, and Roelof’s idea is that the members of the Garden Club team up with local farmers to take responsibility for the garden islands and different areas. It was also suggested that the schools should be involved, with each school making a garden.
Lucille spoke with great passion and enthusiasm about getting local businesses and guest houses to sponsor different public garden areas in town, with obviously a small sponsor board to acknowledge their support. She would also like to see many more trees on the entrance roads into the town.
There was support for a garden outside the police station, as an upliftment and encouragement. In fact, several years ago, plans had been drawn up to do exactly that, but nothing ever came of the idea after the municipality did not support it.
Other ideas that were discussed included a garden competition, the regular problem of unskilled tree cutting, and the need for plants to not only be drought-resistant, but also goat- and sheep-resistant, with all the wandering livestock!
It was decided that one of the islands around the church could be used as a trial area, and that a subcommittee would be formed to identify priorites.
The perennial litter problem was also discussed, and members were encouraged to join those from the Revivify group who would be tackling a town clean-up on the first Saturday after payday every month.
Ian Reed then spoke about recycling, with particular reference to ecobricks. He demonstrated how the concept works, which is basically filling empty plastic bottles with non-recyclable plastic, until they are full. He is working with local artist Cornelia Cronje at the schools, and they aim to encourage the children to make ecobricks which can be used to build seating and shelters in the school grounds. He recounted a touching tale of the enthusiasm of some of the Kamdebo Primary youngsters who had been very interested in the project: Ian had picked up some stray pieces of plastic in his street while walking home one day, when he was approached by two young boys. Instead of the usual request for money or bread, the boys begged him to give them his plastic rubbish, for their bottles!
Ian also spoke about recycled art (using everyday items such as bottle caps), and gave examples of projects that he had been involved in when he lived in Durban. There was a great interest in this, and he later shared photos of some of his previous work. His enthusiasm was contagious, and there was a determination to try some similar projects in Aberdeen, with community involvement, to make Aberdeen the centre of recycled art in the Karoo.
Host Judith Dardis also talked about the private recycling facility in Graaff-Reinet, and encouraged members to sort and recycle their waste.
As always, the meeting ended with a sumptious tea, provided by some of the members.