Trees for Radloff Park

Signs like this, prominently displayed around Radloff Park, explain to dog walkers, how the dog poop composting system, inaugurated at the park on Saturday September 5 during the Arbor Week tree planting ceremony, works.

The tough restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding, determined members of the Friends of Radloff Park (FORP) have facilitated the planting of 47 indigenous trees in celebration of Arbor Week.

“The trees were meant to be planted on April 22, as part of World Earth Day, but due to the lockdown this did not happen,” FORP committee member, Judith Brink, told Bolander.

“After lockdown started lifting, the project got the go-ahead, and the trees were planted on Saturday September 5 as part of Arbor Week.”

But before this could happen, a great deal of behind the scenes work was needed to make the project a success.

Ms Brink explains: “At the end of last year, Somerset West resident, Gigi Roper, one of the regular dog walkers at Radloff Park, expressed concern that people drive all over the open areas of the park to get to a few trees where they can park under shade.

“By doing this, a large part of the park is being compacted and turned into a parking lot where nothing will grow.

“We thought it would be a good idea to plant more trees closer to the road so that cars would be drawn to park there instead of where they currently park,” she said.

With the assistance of FORP and the City of Cape Town parks department, a proposal was drawn up and accepted.

Users of the park could donate funds to purchase a tree of their choice from a list agreed to by the City.

“On Saturday, people who donated trees were invited to come to the park to plant them.

“The trees were all sourced from Themba Trees in Grabouw,” Ms Brink said.

“Thankfully, the much needed rain stayed away just long enough for the planting to be completed.”

Among the donors were the Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club, which planted seven trees in honour of Rotary members, and MPower Training Centre donated three 125l trees.

Vergelegen wine estate also donated two large white stinkwood trees (Celtis africana), one for the farm, and the other to commemorate the life of Gerald Wright, who passed away in early 2019. Mr Wright was the first chairman of FORP, and an environmental consultant to Vergelegen wine estate for many years.

Lourensford Estate and Habitat Tree Nursery donated a large 500l quinine tree (Rauvolfia caffra), and Sub-council 8 chairperson and Ward 84 councillor, Stuart Pringle, planted another large white stinkwood tree on behalf of the City of Cape Town.

“In the week leading up to planting day, and on the day itself, the public showed a great deal of interest in what we are doing,” Ms Brink said.

“We are looking at another planting day, probably later in September, but on a smaller scale.

“We have a number of spekboom plants that need to be planted, and we’ll plant some more trees on the same day.”

Saturday also saw the realisation of another dream for Radloff Park, which started a year ago when The Big Scoop SA co-founders, Emma Stander and Alexis Wellman, approached the

FORP committee with a rather unusual idea – to turn Radloff

Park into South Africa’s first “dog poop composting park”.

“The Big Scoop SA is a pet waste management business, operating in the Western Cape, that provides products and services to help dog owners responsibly manage picking up and disposing of their dogs’ waste,” Ms Wellman said.

“We aim to divert plastic and pet waste away from landfills, raise awareness around the perceived harmlessness of dog waste, and create a circular economy.

“By upgrading pet waste stations and investing in an onsite in-vessel compost tumbler, dog waste from the park was turned into a nutrient rich soil additive,” said Ms Wellman.