What do a fog harvester, olive trees and wonder bags all have in common? They are either products or projects of the Goedgedacht Trust, which operates from a 1704 farm of that name on the Kasteelberg in the Cape. The spirit and vision of Anne and Peter Templeton has slowly and surely been transforming the landscape and positively changing the lives of many of the rural children who live there.
Goedgedacht is possibly best known for its Olive Grove Peace Plan which has enabled the planting over 11 000 olive trees. These trees were bought by South Africans and international visitors to the farm as reminders of any of the significant life events we get to enjoy like births and marriages. They were also chosen to mark the passing of time and satisfy the need for a legacy.
Gifts and memories aside the longer term vision contained a gift for mother earth and for the farm worker community growing out of its association with the farm. Their delicious range of olives and olive oils are produced from the Olive Peace Grove marketed under the Goedgedacht label and the oil is so good and the fruit inspired dressings so unique, that Pick ‘n Pay – with the support of the Ackerman foundation is now giving up valuable shelf space in their stores to stock produce from the farm as well as other delicious produce from small farmers around the country.
The profits from these products are re-absorbed by the Goedgedacht Trust and this enables a sustainable operation that keeps on growing. There are no ‘flash in the pan’ ideas here. Anne is a no nonsense lady, who gets things done and is not in the habit of giving up.
As we have been saying for some time, one person can make a difference but here is an example of just how much a collective can achieve. Here is a living example of how one farm can make a difference. Goedgedacht is an example of a public benefit organisation , which basically means they are a collective of concerned individuals who – while they were talking about how to change the world, got out there and started doing it, one hectare at a time. Seventeen years ago, the wreck of a farm was donated to the Goedgedacht Trust and Peter and Anne began began replacing the vines with olives as a climate change crop.
They have now added kiwi fruit, figs and pomegranates to their repertoire as well as lavender and aloes and the cheekily named num nums, an indigenous fruit bearing bush. When they arrived in the region the evidence that surrounded them of seriously disadvantaged children made them look for ways to help the children of farm workers escape generations of poverty. The Path out of Poverty is a model development programme that looks at health, education, personal development and a love of the planet in its key approach to upliftment.
Two hundred and fifty children have already been a part of this programme and currently there are 1000 children enjoying the support and nourishment of POP. The Trust tirelessly supports a very disadvantaged community group and for the first time ever, the pre-children school have a school of their own to enjoy, helping to break some of the key realities of poverty; lack of proper nutrition and enabling educational stimulus.
The POP programme is already eleven years old and some of the children have been with the programme from 3 years old and they show remarkable show remarkable confidence and ability as teenagers. Whilst I was chatting to Anne, listening
to the birds and occasional buzz of the engineer putting in a solar panel, a young collector from the Savings Group called by to collect Anne’s daily contribution, and the total is kept aside for a happy day.
Looking ahead to the onset of much drier and hotter conditions for this region the planting of olives has been a key focus, especially for its revenue generating opportunities and the effect on the land. Olive trees are important carbon emission absorbers but it seems the Spekboom bush’ is taking centre stage for now and Peter and Anne are doing their best to promote its planting. This indigenous, easy growing bush is just one of the conversation points of our meeting and Peter assures me the Spekboom is a marvel of nature because it sucks up more carbon dioxide than any other tree.
Elephants also seem to be drawn to taking care of the bigger bushes and are known to prune them almost delicately as opposed to uprooting them but don’t let a goat near one, goats eat everything! Climate change is happening and is a hotly debated topic, but the Templetons are not waiting around for surprises. Their climate change crops project - 3C’s - is preparing small farmers for climate change and helping them discover drought resistant crops other than olives. They have set up a fog harvester to show how water vapour from mist can be collected and re-used.
They are creating a climate change walking path to further demonstrate the effects of a hotter climate and in their quest for zero carbon emissions, the farm runs off its own gas, thanks to the biodigester and solar panels are on all farm cottage roofs.