Laura’s Horticulture Internship experience: from permaculture techniques to medicinal herbs and pest control

Laura worked hard in Germany to save up for her adventure to South Africa. She applied for a Horticulture internship with Greenpop and fell in love with the Mother City.

I was unsure of what I wanted to do for my studies for university. I knew I really wanted to travel outside of Europe and try to figure it out my next step. Doing volunteer work or an internship was a great place to start. My grandparents used to own a farm in Germany so I am very used to tending to the animals and being out in nature. So for my internship I was looking for something where I could do something good to nature and protect the environment. You can imagine I was very excited to be offered a position at Greenpop as a Horticulture intern. And before that I spend a few weeks in Gansbaai volunteering for a whale, shark and penguin conservation program. Needless-to-say I was keen to leave the familiar cold water and go into the warm sunshine of Cape Town.

Horticulture research

As a Horticulture Intern, I spend my time both at the office in Bo-Kaap and the nursery in Woodstock. When in the office I did a lot of research. I looked at different methods to make improvements in our nursery, so the trees would grow big and nicely, look for information on pest control or how to improve biodiversity. I also learn a lot about permaculture and I loved those weekly sessions with Farrah where she taught us about permaculture techniques. And during our weekly (vegan) lunches at the offices it was my turn to present an eco topic. I discussed the different medicinal benefits of plants, which is something that interests me. And it is great to notice that Greenpop uses some of my research for the work shop for our beneficiaries.

Interested to do an Urban Greening Internship in South Africa? Read more about this opportunity

Twice a week I went to the nursery with the rest of the team and work on and through different agricultural methods. I loved the team, the atmosphere and got to know amazing people who became my friends.

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Exploring Cape Town

On my weeknights and my weekends, I was free to explore Cape Town, go out and socialize. But actually one of my favourite things to do was relaxing in many of Cape Town’s lush and central parks. Seeing homeless people in the streets is not something I’m used to. And to be honest, before going on this trip I had never left Europe or lived on my own. So adventuring alone in a new country was a new experience for me. It was the perfect opportunity to improve my English and I learned a lot about myself by living on my own and sharing the apartment with other people. I am so happy with how this adventure turned out and will definitely miss the people, the friendships formed both in my Horticulture Internship and outside. The fond memories of the amazing hiking experiences or simply having a glass of wine and watching the sun go down with my flat-mates will be treasured.

Guest blog by Laura Heitzer

Note: Greenpop no longer offers a Horticulture Internship but they do offer the Urban Greening Internship instead.