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Double decker tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram celebrated the introduction of two double-deck railway trams at a function hosted by Vrede en Lust and the Lust Bistro on 6 November 2017.

With an impressive view of the surrounding vineyards and Simonsberg mountain, guests were addressed by Dana Buys of Vrede en Lust, Hein Koegelenberg representing Franschhoek Wine Valley and Minister Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Second clean audit for Stellenbosch Municipality

Stellenbosch Municipality announced in early December 2016 that it had achieved another clean audit for its 2015/2016 financials.

A clean audit means that the financial statements are all in order with no issues on the predetermined objectives, no problems with non-compliance to key legislation or any significant deficiencies in the internal controls of the municipality.

Mayor Gesie van Deventer said: “There is always room for improvement, and I promise that my team and I will uphold this standard of clean and transparent government and improve wherever possible. I am committed to clean financial management, zero tolerance for corruption, and utilising the money of the tax payer first and foremost for improved service delivery in order to create a municipal environment that creates opportunities for all residents.”

The mayor also thanked the Chief Financial Officer, Marius Wüst, and the other officials who work to ensure that the municipality complies with the prescribed legislation at all times.

Unauthorised construction – no warm and fuzzy feelings

The LAB Lifestyle in Nerina Street was built without approved building plans and the required zoning in place.

Labradors, or Labs for short, usually evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, as they’re considered one of the gentlest dog breeds around. The same cannot be said about the new accommodation establishment, The LAB Lifestyle, with its Labrador logo that has been taking shape in Nerina Street over the past few months.

What has taken place at erf 660 in Nerina Street since October 2017 can only be described as a construction frenzy – an illegal one to boot.

Bursary boost

The Fremco Trust received a welcome fund injection on 16 November. Present at the handover were (FLTR): Louis Cloete (Trustee: Fremco Trust), Wendell Jephtah (Trustee: Fremco Trust), John Hesom (Director: Frandevco), Bruce Berry (Chairman: Frandevco), Herman van der Merwe (Director: Frandevco), Ralph Damonse (Fremco Administrator), Dirk Hattingh (CEO: Frandevco), Dawie De Villiers (Trustee: Fremco Trust), Norval Williams (Chairman: Fremco Trust), Marion Adams (Trustee: Fremco Trust) and Ruth Morgan (Trustee: Fremco Trust).

The Franschhoek Country Club Estate Development Company (Pty) Ltd (Frandevco), developers of the Fransche Hoek Estate, handed over a financial contribution to the Fremco Trust, which represents community-based organizations in Franschhoek.

The development of the Fransche Hoek Estate flowed from a social compact that was signed in 1998 by stake holders, including the then Franschhoek Municipality, as part of the Franschhoek Empowerment and Development Initiative (FEDI). Fremco each year awards bursaries to children from the Franschhoek community and donates a percentage of its income to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve.

The project was financed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and implemented by Frandevco. A unique development model was used, which is being used on other projects in South Africa as well.

At the time of its formation the activities of the Fremco Trust were endorsed by President Nelson Mandela.

Cabriere Street planning blues

Little remains of the original historic cottage

A growing body of Franschhoek residents and the Franschhoek Trust and Ratepayers Association are bringing pressure to bear on Stellenbosch Municipality’s Planning Department to ‘stick to the rules’ and enforce compliance with building and zoning regulations.

Explore Boschendal – with Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth

Explore Boschendal by carriage with Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria

Boschendal offers all that you’d expect of a wine estate – restaurants, wine tasting, picnics – and then some!  Also on offer are half and whole day spa treatments, walking and mountain bike excursions (on 30 km of new trails), fly fishing – and horse riding.  It can be stated quite categorically here that if ever there was an enthusiastic team it is that which now runs the equestrian activities.

The equestrian team is headed by Hans Mbalula and his brother Petrus.  Hans was formerly a barman at Boschendal’s deli/Werf restaurant/picnics), but on hearing Boschendal’s CEO discussing the pros and cons of riding and related activities on the estate he immediately volunteered to give up bartending and to run this new initiative.

It transpired that he had, in fact, been raised on a Free State farm and as a boy had ridden regularly before and after school to carry out a variety of farm duties such as cattle and sheep herding.  He had, too, it was discovered, learned early on how to win the confidence and calm down a wild horse so that within a few days (often in fact within one day) he could saddle and ride it without any of the bronco busting histrionics of the Wild West’s cowboys.  He had also learned how to put horses into harness to pull a cart or a plough, again using a minimum of force and a maximum of coaxing.

Boschendal now has 13 horses, including a few Shetland ponies, the majority of which are massive Shire horses, Friesians, Clydesdales and Percherons, all of them giants of the horsey world – they grow to 16 hands or more.  Being immensely strong, they are capable of carrying a 100 kg or 110 kg rider in armchair comfort.  Surprisingly, however, they are also quite exceptionally gentle so that, despite their size, they can be and sometimes are ridden by quite small children.  A few lucky riders are offered the opportunity to mount these massive horses, but most of Boschendal’s outrides are done with well-trained smaller horses.

Today the Boschendal horses can be hired for outrides and these usually take the visitor into unspoilt conservation fynbos territory where waterbuck and eland have been introduced by Boschendal’s owners.  For those prepared to rise early Boschendal offers a breakfast ride in its extensive conservation territory with delicious eggs, bacon and mushrooms cooked over an open fire.  The rides can last up to three hours and afford the visitor a total escape from the overcrowded mechanised world.

Shire horses are, however, at their most impressive when they are acting as draught animals.  Their huge size make it possible for them easily to pull carts, the weight of which would bring lesser horses, even fully trained hackneys, to their knees.

At Boschendal the management now offers visitors one-hour cart rides almost daily. The carriage can take a small number of adults and a larger number of children.  Passengers sit on a beautifully restored 19th-century landau and this gives them a tranquil lovely way to see the estate and to watch these big horses working so willingly.  The foremost carriage pair are black Friesian mares.  They are sisters and are named Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  Their names are appropriate because they exude a patrician, almost regal ambience, as if aware that they are several cuts above today’s typical livery stable animals.

Booking is essential for a carriage ride, but, as Samantha Lundie, wife of the CEO of Boschendal who is closely involved with this operation, has said, “An overnight visit to Boschendal these days is incomplete without a carriage ride – it somehow epitomises all that the estate stands for.”

horses@boschendal.co.za | 021 870 4211

Klein Handjies Preschool on the up and up

Klein Handjies graduation 2016

“Change the first five years and you can change anything.”

History, says Lynette Carolissen, principal of the Klein Handjies Preschool at Boschendal, may well show that the decision by Boschendal’s new owners to support this preschool was the most beneficial of all the changes and improvements that they have brought about since taking over the estate in 2012.

The school is an initiative by the Franschhoek estates Solms-Delta and Boschendal.  It moved to its new buildings on the Boschendal estate a few months ago and here its numbers have been augmented by children from the Boschendal community.

Lynette has been a nursery school teacher for most of her life but, she says, the Klein Handjies Preschool, which currently has 51 children aged from three months to five years, is far and away the best she has ever been involved with. She says there are six main reasons for this.

These are:

·         It is set in a clean, calm, beautiful farm environment well away from the big towns and cities which can have negative, harmful influences on young children.

·         It has sufficient staff (seven in all) and this means that great attention can be paid to the individual.

·         It has spacious and adequate floor areas in beautifully refurbished cottages, the quality of which is appreciated not only by the children but by the parents and staff.

·         It is well equipped with books, art materials, educational toys (which are regularly changed and updated), stationery, a playground with its own vegetable garden (maintained by the older children) and a jungle gym.

·         It feeds its children throughout the day with breakfasts, morning teas, lunches and afternoon snacks.  What is more, the food is healthy and nutritious, most of it emanating from Boschendal’s farms and much of it also prepared in Boschendal’s Werf Restaurant.

·         Most importantly, it makes full use of Preschool for Africa’s Play with a Purpose Programme.  The Play with a Purpose systems and educational kits were introduced in 1991, were developed in South Africa and are widely considered to be ground-breaking in child development initiatives. The programme is based on a neuro-scientific framework and behaviour-based theories originally developed by Professor James Heckman, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in this field. He was able to show that the economic return on investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) was up to 17 times greater than the same investment in high school education. Prof Heckman’s findings have validated the Play With A Purpose approach, showing that the human brain develops and learns more in the first five years of the child’s existence than at any later stage.  If, therefore, children are exposed to interesting, stimulating activities at this stage their chances of coping with later educational demands, even under very difficult conditions such as overcrowding, will be much improved.

“Play With A Purpose programmes were introduced to Gauteng some 25 years ago by Robin Wieland, who still heads up the Preschool for Africa programme, but Klein Handjies is the first school in the Western Cape to buy into their educative methods.  This exciting change has come about because Preschool for Africa is represented in the Western Cape by Colleen Harvett, a very experienced nursery school owner and principal who, when not running her own school, devotes most of her spare time to promoting Play With A Purpose programmes in the Western Cape – and it was she who talked to Boschendal CEO Rob Lundie, who, she says, very quickly grasped the value and the concepts of Play With A Purpose.

“What makes the Play With A Purpose programme so revolutionary,” says Harvett, “is that previously too little thought was given in farm schools of this kind to stimulating and developing the minds of our youngest children.  If the preschool was comfortable and the children were looked after and kept amused that was often thought sufficient.  It is only quite recently that it has been understood that these initial years of a child’s life are crucial to its later ability to learn and adapt.”

In 2017 Klein Handjies will more than double its current intake and former farm cottages on the school site are being renovated to make this possible.

“This means,” says Harvett, “that it will in time be able to take on pupils up to Grades 1 and 2 – and later possibly they will be able to go even further.  It is likely that this school will set new standards for farm education in the Boland and will find many imitators.”

www.boschendal.com | 021 870 4200 (Rob Lundie)

Heritage inventory for the Franschhoek Valley

Proposed Heritage Areas in the Franschhoek Valley

Large parts of the Franschhoek Valley could be declared Grade I and II Heritage Areas.

In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 1999 (NHRA), a heritage inventory for Stellenbosch Municipality is long overdue. The municipality has now commissioned Cape Winelands Professional Practices Association (CWPP) – a team of heritage experts led by Fabio Todeschini and Liana Jansen – to compile this. Heritage resources – which includes Heritage Areas – are graded as Grade I, II and III for their national, provincial or local significance and placed on a Heritage Register.

In terms of Heritage Western Cape (HWC) guidelines, Grade I Heritage Resources “are so exceptional because they are of outstanding significance to South Africa.”. Grade II “must have special qualities which make them significant within the context of a province or region.” Grade III applies to Heritage Resources with “sufficient intrinsic significance to be regarded as local heritage resources.”

A heritage area is managed by the municipality in accordance with “… specific development guidelines …. to ensure that the heritage significance of the Heritage Area is conserved.”

In November 2016 CWPP presented a Preliminary Draft Inventory of Large Scale Landscape Areas in the municipality (Phase 2a). It is available at www.stellenboschheritage.co.za. It proposes that in the Franschhoek Valley the maroon coloured area (see plan) should be a Grade I Heritage Area and the orange coloured area should be Grade II.

As the official Conservation Body for the Franschhoek Valley the Franschhoek Trust & Ratepayers Association (the Trust) was asked to comment on this draft. It suggested that the black lined area was of equal heritage significance to the proposed Grade I Heritage Area and should also be considered for Grade I status. In doing so it emphasised the heritage significance of La Cotte Farm and the landscape in which it was set. The Trust also proposed that the Municipal Spatial Development Framework 2013 be amended because it provided for Franschhoek’s urban edge to be extended to include a significant part of the black lined area – 59 ha – to be designated as a “New Development Area” to promote “mixed use, mixed income development including social and gap housing” as this might be incompatible with its status as a Grade I or Grade II Heritage Area.

CWPP have submitted the Phase 2a Heritage Inventory to SAHRA and HWC for approval and will now draft Management Plans to be discussed with them and the municipality before the inclusion of the Heritage Areas in the Heritage Register becomes official. The municipality must then pass by-laws for their protection approved by SAHRA, HWC and Province within 6 months.

In acknowledging the Trust’s comments Todeschini said, “Our Phase 2a work focussed on the broad brush-stroke identification of significant heritage resources in the Wilderness and Rural Domains. Phase 2b, starting in the New Year, will span the Urban Domain” and will include Grade III Heritage Resources in Franschhoek. It must be completed by July 2017. CWPP want local participation at workshops “drawing our attention to specific sites and areas that have heritage significance”.

The Trust welcomes development that respects the heritage of Franschhoek and the Franschhoek Valley as an essential economic driver. The Heritage Inventory will be a vital tool to help protect Franschhoek and the Franschhoek Valley from further inappropriate development. If you would like to be involved in this or have anything to contribute, please contact me.

Barry Phillips | 083 441 8280 | barry@afrihost.co.za

Biomimicry to the rescue

An informal street has been paved with permeable paving

Superficially blocks S and T of the Langrug informal settlement may look much the same as the other blocks. Looking a little deeper though, one soon discovers that something exciting is happening here and the differences suddenly become obvious. Plastic litter that seems to be everywhere in the settlement is absent here. So are the open streams of foul wastewater. The path between the shacks has a curb to give it a level surface and channel storm water to the nearest storm water drain.  Perhaps most strikingly the informal road is paved with open grass pavers and there are large indigenous trees every few metres along the road.

The reason for these differences is a project called The Genius of SPACE.  This project is part of the Western Cape’s 110% Green Initiative and the Berg River Improvement Plan. It seeks to address two of the province’s strategic priorities: water quality in the Berg River system and the green economy. What the project is doing is establishing innovative biomimicry interventions that when applied, successfully adopted and implemented to the Berg River area, could have a desirable impact on the province’s environment and economic growth as well as improving health in all the people affected by the river.

The project has been through several phases involving community participation and co-planning, with phase 4 (construction) finally starting in January 2016.  The aim is to mimic nature in creating a living sewer, using the principle of treating water as it is transported to support the greening of Langrug with readily available nutrients and water.

Briefly the system works as follows: A series of greywater disposal points have been constructed and linked via underground pipes to miniature wetlands and tree gardens – hence the absence of open sewers. These specially designed wetlands start purifying the water as it moves down the slope from wetland to wetland and ultimately to the municipal sewer system. The system is maintained by the community it serves and they also ensure that everybody follows the rules needed to keep the system functioning healthily and correctly.

The project includes monitoring and research by postgraduate students funded by the Department of Science & Technology and the Water Research Commission. Every aspect is being documented with the aim of learning as much as possible. Lessons learned will determine the feasibility of implementing this within the whole community and possibly to other informal (and formal) settlements elsewhere.

Further phases will include solid waste collection points and encouraging entrepreneurship with regard to waste recycling and upcycling.  The use of ecomachines (biomimicry wastewater treatment systems) for treating stormwater at source is the next focus area of the project, which is planned for construction on a section of land adjacent to the Groendal Secondary School soccer field.

The team responsible for the project includes BiomimicrySA, Greenhouse Systems Development, Isidima Design & Development, Maluti GSM, WaterLove Projects, CORC, John Todd Ecological Design and the Freshwater Consulting Group.

La Motte Museum exhibition pays tribute to Pierneef

Pierneef Bushveld trees (1955), La Motte Museum collection, displayed on JH Pierneef studio easel with a bronze bust of Pierneef by Coert Steynberg, DITSONG collection

A new exhibition at the La Motte Museum pays tribute to the life and work of SA artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef. Fittingly titled A Tribute to the life and work of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957) the exhibition will run for the duration of 2017. The exhibition celebrates the artist’s contribution to South African art and enhances La Motte’s permanent heritage collection with selected artworks and personal artefacts from various South African collections.

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