Greyton Transition Town
Greyton Transition Town started mid 2011 when a group of local people met to consider the challenge of increasing fuel costs and the corresponding rise in the cost of living, particularly with regard to escalating food prices. We saw Transition as a means of inspiring the communities of Greyton, Genadendal and surrounding villages to come together to meet these challenges and to build a resilient, sustainable community in which everybody enjoys security from rising costs in fuel, food and other essentials. Greyton Transition Town is a registered NPO within South Africa, number 103-944-NPO.
Waste. Swop Shops. GTT has opened four swop shops, in local communities. High end waste is sourced from retailers local to the swop shops. Over 700 kgs of recyclable waste is collected every week from the Genadendal swop shop alone. This is swopped at an on-site shop for essentials such as clothing, blankets, food and stationery bringing these goods to those who need them the most. The environment local to the swop shops is significantly cleaner and the local recycling entrepreneur now has a greater volume of waste so his business is more viable.
Trash to Treasure. GTT has rehabilitated part of the Greyton landfill site, claiming back 12,000 square metres, fencing it in and clearing all waste. With the help of the NPO, Greenpop, the beginnings of the Greyton Fruit Forest has been created at the newly named Green Park to aid food security, planting over 100 trees in one day with 50 volunteers, mainly children. Ecobricks (plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable waste) which are brought to the swopshops or made up by community residents and dropped off at points in Greyton, are being used to construct simple, cheap community buildings and South Africa’s first eco-brick construction, an outdoor classroom, is reaching completion at the Green Park.
Each year GTT holds a Trash to Treasure Festival at the site featuring local bands and workshops on the theme of waste – reduce, reuse, recycle, upcycle.
Food Security (Incredible Edible). GTT runs a weekly vegetable exchange table where local farmers and gardeners bring, buy, sell and swop locally grown, chemical free, fresh seasonal vegetables. Through this medium, information and support is given to local growers to help them in the transition to fully organic and a PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) is being established so that an organic standard can be adopted and a local Approved Organic certification created.
GTT has also helped local growers to bring weekly supplies to two retailers in the village which sell the fresh local vegetables to their customers.
Local restaurants and guest houses support the weekly vegetable table, buying for their guests and customers. GTT run a food waste programme, providing free bokashi bins to restaurants, collecting them once a week and dropping them off at the Green Park to make compost. Waste which is still in good condition but remains unsold is collected by GTT for local soup kitchens and to feed the children on our Eco-Crew programme.
Six school vegetable gardens have been created in each of the local schools and three more have been established at the Greyton Police Station, the Greyton EcoLodge and Greyton Green Park.
Two Board Members of GTT have now obtained advanced permaculture qualifications.
Education: GTT has built on the eco-crew established by Schumacher student interns in 2012. The children attending after school programme from all six local schools has grown in this 2015 intake to 160 The programme runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 pm to 4 pm and features activities such as:
• Permaculture and vegetable gardening
• Natural building with clay
• Recycling using the eco-brick, a plastic bottle stuffed with non-recyclable waste. These bricks attract double points at swop shops and are then used by the eco-crews to build – the first ecobrick building in South Africa has been built at the Greyton Green Park – an outdoor classroom.
• Fynbos walks
• Growing and cooking with medicinal herbs
• Survival sleepover – making tents, cooking outdoors, team building
• Humane education – caring for animals. GTT has just received US$10,000 for this programme to be rolled out in all six schools.
Renewable energy. A Power Sub-Committee is looking into the possibility of installing solar panels on public buildings in the area. Romano’s Solar Engineers visited from Cape Town and undertook a study of the roof at Emil Weder High School in Genadendal. The project was costed at R1.2m. Before investors can be attracted GTT must wait for Eskom’s new protocols regarding feed-in tariffs whereby the school can generate income by selling surplus energy to Eskom.
Communications. German film company Deutsche Welle filmed the Trash to Treasure Festival with the result that 7 minutes of film about Greyton and Genadendal was broadcast, in English, to 41 countries. organisation. Local volunteer and businessman, Mike Ash, sponsored the GTT website, www.greytontransition.co.za.
Business Mentoring. GTT is now mentoring three new eco-businesses:
• Green Park Garden waste management programme. This is situated at the Green Park. Two men now remove garden waste from the waste stream and instead of bulking up the landfill this waste is now chipped, composted or made into biochar, then sold back into the village, supporting the two men’s salaries.
• Pure Café. GTT supports a local entrepreneur to run a vegetarian café using only locally grown or manufactured organic produce as much as possible. In return space is given in the shop to promote the activities of GTT and to provide information on sustainability matters.
• Pure Home. This shop sells environmentally friendly household cleaning products and is also the base of Greyton Property Management Services owned and run by former domestic worker, Sarie Jumat, and her team of seven ladies, one handyman and one gardener.
GTT is providing the support of a consultant to support these four and eleven other emerging or existing businesses to set up as co-operatives and apply for funding under the Co-operative Incentive Scheme. GTT will facilitate the establishment of a secondary co-operative to provide on-going mentoring support in terms of business management, accounting and marketing. Around75 people will be directly employed by the co-ops and possibly up to 150 more once they are established.
On July 1st 2014 GTT acquired the lease on a former backpackers which is now being transformed into a centre of environmental education and learning. Ultimately, the EcoLodge will ‘walk its talk’ with the installation of solar panels, biomas digester, grey water reticulation system, water harvesting, full insulation, permaculture garden and other sustainable features. Schools, other groups and eco-tourists will be accommodated and will be able to follow their own programme or chose from a menu of sustainability and environmental learning activities.
Ambitious plans are well underway to create a mixed use, socially integrated, sustainable housing development at the entrance to the village which will comprise a mix of social housing and private housing.
Jakopa Architects and Urban Designers in Cape Town are providing pro bono services and two students from Han University in the Netherlands have created a 3D model. We await official allocation of the land from TWK and, in the meantime, are researching funding and developer options.
The site is adjacent to a planned English medium High School and GTT is seeking to collaborate with the school steering committee to include the two building projects in one integrated design.
We care about other communities too
Transition is also about supporting other communities, wherever they may be in the world, to become more sustainable. To this end we are part of wider networks:
• South Africa’s first ‘official’ transition town within the global Transition Network
• A Western Cape 110% Green Flagship Initiative
• Two of our Trustees have been trained personally by former USA vice President Al Gore as Climate Reality Leaders
• GTT is playing a lead role in the national Rethink the Bag campaign to phase out the single use plastic shopping bag
• GTT introduced the first eco-brick (plastic bottle stuffed with non-recyclable waste) which is now being used in buildings in Greyton and Port Elizabeth. From our initiative the national Ecobrick Exchange has grown which recently created an eco-block lounge outside the City Hall in Cape Town.
• GTT initiated Trash To Treasure Festivals, with an event at the local dumpsite which has now become an annual fixture and is spawning more such festivals around Southern Africa.
• We welcome interns and students to study with us free of charge. We have received visits lasting from one week to six months from students from Santa Fe USA, New York, Toronto Canada, Sydney Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and South Africa.
The director of Greyton Transition Town and his team of three represent the historically disadvantaged communities of Heuwelkroon, Boesmanskloof and Genadendal as do three of our six Trustees.
For further details:
Nicky Vernon (Chair): + 27 825587752