Now green is your valley?

One man’s idea, a friend’s plan of action — and eight years later more than 60 towns across the country have undergone a transformation!

One day, Hansie Wolfaardt, manager of a cheese factory in Bonnievale, was chatting to his friend Theuns Coetzee about how their town had deteriorated. This chat gave rise to the launch of the Bonnievale DREAM project. The entrances to the town were their first goal; after which they moved onto the main street, building benches, planting up pavements and decorating dustbins. Theuns says after planting the 5 500′ tree, they gave up counting!

National drive

Today, about 64 towns have signed up for the DREAM project. In Calitzdorp, schoolchildren make plant cuttings; m Jeffrey’s Bay the community has beautified pavements and created mosaic statues; in Citrusdal yellowwood trees have been planted; the People’s Forest project aims to green squatter camps — indeed the whole country is striving to improve the aesthetics of our towns.

One of the mam motivators is radio station RSG. Two years ago. Beaufort West was suffering a severe drought and strict water restrictions were in place. After radio announcers asked listeners to bring extra water while passing through the town on their way to their holiday destinations, an astonishing 5.

Theuns says the days of trying to convince people with words are over: ‘You must get stuck in and let your actions do the convincing. ‘Peer pressure is a huge weapon within a community dynamic,’ Theuns laughs.

Driven by passion

Theuns says their key resource is passion. People pay for town improvements themselves and those who can’t afford to contribute financially, give of their time. Those with large gardens donate plants to those who can’t afford them, while garden centres also make a contribution. ‘There is nothing nicer than watching someone digging a hole for a plant using an icecream bakkie.’ remarks Theuns.

The project’s ‘logistical team’ consists of volunteers, with Christo van Lill of Swellendam managing the website and Riaan de Lange subsidising it. Beth Rautenbach of Port Shepstone takes care of the DREAM Facebook page. And Chart Frank and Mark Heinstein use donations from overseas to buy trees.

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