Tracy’s unsuspecting challenges and moments of great success
As a Horticulture Intern Tracy mainly focused on the Greenpop nursery, how to constantly improve it and make it more user-friendly. Next to that, she was also involved with Greenpop’s main project: the Urban Greening Programme (UGP). This program helps to promote environmental education in schools and community-based organizations. More importantly, the program addresses under the greening of previously disadvantaged places in and around Cape Town. Greenpop does this through promoting tree planting at different schools and organizations with the help of donors and proceeds from other fundraising efforts. In addition several times a year workshops are organized for the beneficiaries of the UGP and one of those workshops took place at the nursery during her internship.
Workshop for teachers and children
In February we held one of our workshops with local school children and their teachers, at the Greenpop nursery. What surprised me was everybody’s passion. Even the little kids were so happy to be in the nursery! During that day, we had several stations with mini-workshops. Together with Joan, my fabulous colleague, I was in charge of the setup of the workshop. Along with co-intern Katie (Urban Greening Intern), I taught the participants about seed propagation and tree planting techniques. At another station, I spoke about how tree-planting can have a positive effect on climate change.
We wanted to make it as interactive as possible for the kids. They just came out of a linear classroom environment, so we had to engage with their questions! It was cool to see them participate and share what they had learned in the classroom. We mainly wanted to show the teachers how to implement these environmental teachings into the curriculum. I believe learning doesn’t have to be just theoretical; this program can be implemented in schools, and be a relevant source of material. It is practical and can be transferred through the students into their communities.
Environment and female empowerment
During my internship, I received notice that I had been accepted for the Desmond Tutu Foundation Fellowship, which also entails a community project of some kind. So what I have been pondering is a project mixing the environment and female empowerment; two very important issues to me.
Where I am from, in Durban, we are trying to implement up-cycling with plastic bottles. We use the bottoms of these bottles as planters for greenery. There is a lot of waste in Durban, especially non-recycled waste which litters the environment. We create sustainable gardens by up-cycling these plastic bottles and keep educating the community about how to compost. It’s a struggle to keep the compost natural, but it is a hurdle we need to conquer. Another struggle is the monkeys in the communities. They are extremely mischievous and like to investigate and dismantle the planters! We are finding solutions, though; hanging them higher is working for now.
Falling in love with Cape Town
My time in Cape Town as a Horticulture intern has been amazing, I love – LOVE Cape Town. I thought I was going to hate it because of its reputation for being pretentious or stuck. My time here has changed this though, I want to stay here! I will miss the amazing people I have met – interns, permanent staff, and the people I came across. Everyone was loving, kind and inspiring. It was great to realize that like-minded people could come from anywhere in the world.
Tip for a social enterprise or NGO internship
If you are thinking about doing an internship for a social enterprise or NGO, be prepared to do anything, at any time. Flexibility and dynamism are key! Always keep an open mind and be a team player; you’ll be working with a diverse group of people. Leave your ego and selfish expectations at the door. Social enterprises and NGOs are rooted in seeing the growth of a community, rather than the individual.
Tracy will be back in Cape Town in April to work on her Desmond Tutu Fellowship project. We can’t wait to hear about this and wish her all the success in her future ventures. We will miss you, Tracy!
NB. Greenpop no longer offers a Horticulture internship but they offer an Urban Greening Internship instead.