The Urban Farming, Eco-Education and Horticulture Internship is more than just Nursery Work

Seven years ago, Greenpop took over a neglected piece of land on Mountain Road in Woodstock and made it the tree nursery. It used to be a pile of rubble… Now it is a beautiful green space with an increasing abundance of trees, fruits, and vegetables. Today, the nursery has transformed into an Eco-Education Hub. It is an innovative, eco-active learning space to share ideas and skills. Every Tuesday is Greenpop’s Open Eco-Hub Day. Anyone can come and get their hands dirty while learning about permaculture, compost, and eco-building. Deon, Andrea, and Steven did an Urban Farming internship with Greenpop, spending most of their time at the nursery. We spoke with them about what’s going on in that little green oasis in Woodstock!

New dynamic team for Eco-Education Hub

Andrea always wanted to work for an NGO or an organization that makes an impact on the environment. She was interested in the Urban Greening Programme to further her career as an environmental entrepreneur. Deon fell in love with our natural heritage even more during his Horticulture internship with Greenpop. His huge will and instinct to protect and promote it are burning brighter than ever. Deon also focused on kids’ eco-education to preliminary school children. Steven did tree care and food gardening. After traveling and teaching in Thailand he felt disconnected from nature. This internship was the perfect opportunity for some first-hand experience in the non-profit environmental sector.

The three interns had become a dynamic team! They achieved a lot to envision this future of the nursery space through brainstorming, giving ideas, and implementing those. They set the standard and system in place for next nursery interns for more development to happen in the space. No matter how small or huge their contribution was, there is a huge need for intervention in this world. It is guaranteed that everything they did made a change somewhere, somehow. And where better to experience this impact than in the communities around!

Falling in love with the environment

They got to spend a few days a week in the Greenpop nursery in Woodstock and some days at the office in Bo-Kaap. General tasks included watering the plants (not an easy task with Cape Town’s water restrictions!), turning compost, planting seedlings, weeding and cleaning the area, harvesting vegetables to eat in the office, and pest control. Besides doing research or some administrative tasks in the office, they went out to plant trees with school kids and monitor planting sites to check up on the trees. A great opportunity to work with communities with whom they would not have connected otherwise, as well as enjoy the road trips around Cape Town with a bunch of amazing people.

“I have learned that there are many awesome people in close proximity who also care as much as I for the environment. I have also learned that there is an environmental steward in all of us and that society craves to make an impact. It is up to us to show them how valuable they are and how great the need is.” – Deon Louw

Workshop for teachers and children

The Horticulture interns participated in the weekly Greenpop Club with grade 1-3 learners from Mountain Primary School. Every Monday they hosted workshops at the nursery to do kids’ eco-education and activation. They have done it all: a Water-Wise workshop, propagation, pruning, beneficiary, DIY with own tools and oyster mushroom workshops. Deon, once more, realized that he loves children and educating them. It turned out to be his main focus during his internship. He experienced the magic of children, and how amazing the world looks through childhood-glasses and that we should all wear those more often. Steven and Andrea assisted Deon during the workshops. Andrea then was given the nickname ‘MamaAndy’, because she always had to look after the kids – and she loved it. These kids gave her so much energy and interacting with volunteers and Tao readings in the morning put her in the right mindset each day.

Horticulture Internship

“I also really enjoyed the Greenpop Club and the spontaneous renditions of “♪Greenpop, Greenpop, Jump and Jive, how awesome to be alive♪”. This whole experience has taught me that when working with the natural world, there is a flow. When working in the timespan of trees, patience is truly a virtue. By slowing things down, I have gained an appreciation of what is, and not what I think should be.” – Steven Voortman

Do you have an interest in tree planting, sustainability or education? Check out Greenpop’s internships in Cape Town!

Exceeding expectations

Doing an Urban Farming internship with non-profit Greenpop surpassed all their expectations. Deon was stimulated on so many levels. He often felt that the internship catered to the individual, specific strengths and needs. Andrea has learned so many skills such as gardening, permaculture practices. And believe it or not – she knew nothing about trees and growing vegetables before she came to Greenpop.

“It has been a week since I left Greenpop and I am humbled by my experience, grateful that everything happened as was necessary, and thankful for my time spent there.  I gained skills from the different workshops and my own failures within the nursery, from experiments gone wrong and from my fellow interns. It is a humbling experience and opportunity to give of yourself, heal, learn, grow and see the impact of one small action every day.” – Andrea Harry

* Greenpop no longer offers a Horticulture, Urban Farming, and Eco-education internship but they do offer an Urban Greening Internship.

Read more about the Urban Greening Internship in Cape Town!