A visit to the La Bloemen botanical garden in Melkhoutfontein, Hessequa, is a journey into the resilience of nature and the people indigenous to the area. Besides seeing stunning fynbos (spectacular indigenous shrubs, flowers and trees),in its natural surrounds, visitors are instrumental in enabling a community and nature to thrive. Visitor are afforded the chance to join the Kamammas and other local residents to help plant and conduct a census of the number of specific specie of fynbos, birds and other fauna which has returned,help to develop areas and leave their footprint.
The project was launched officially by the Dreamcatcher Ambassador, Karin Bloemen and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Hon. Amb. Marisa Gerards in March 2016. Within less than 6 months and spring in the air, over 211 specie of fynbos have returned naturally, and with it, an abundance of fauna insects and birds. It is envisaged that the garden will open to public viewing in Spring of 2017. However currently, the chance to view the garden, plant and contribute to this unique restoration is offered as part of our Wasteland – Graced Land experience. Visitors enjoy rubbing shoulders with the locals, leaving a tangible legacy when they leave.
Revenue supports local tourism enterprises and thus implodes vital revenue into the community economy. This means more sustainable work, less poverty. As a team Global Citizens visitors and community work together to effect socio-economic growth and quality of life.
Melkhoutfontein is geographically in the South Western, Garden Route (west) region Cape of South Africa, known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. Historically it has found itself situated between 2 waste dumpsites. Additionally, when powers that be imported and planted the plant and shrub specie, Acacia Cyclops to stabilise the dunes decades ago, the invaders decimated the natural habitat of Melkhoutfontein.
The La Bloemen project sought to correct this. To bring nature back for the community to enjoy and so enhance their quality of life. Job creation and skills transfer to sustain the garden is at the heart of this project. Clearing up operations took almost 5 years, with the past 3 years spent additionally to remove die invader specie and to see how nature would respond. It is fighting back, turning a wasted land into a graced land. Welcome to La Bloemen Botanical Garden.