Vincent’s amazing year with Urban Harvest
Vincent’s amazing year with Urban Harvest
Written by: Vincent Germain
Photo credits: Vincent Germain
“I grew with Urban Harvest and I helped Urban Harvest to grow!”
Vincent is a process and environmental engineer, who used to lead a team of eight technicians back home in France. They operated an irrigation pipeline network to control the quantity of water available for the dry period for the farmers and community. He came to South Africa for one year joining his partner working at the university and was looking for a volunteer work placement to make the most of his time. For one year he worked with our partner Urban Harvest. He worked passionately to introduce a whole new system of plant-based water filters at local schools in Cape Town. Read the story about his amazing Urban Harvest internship here.
Bringing water back to the edible gardens
Originally, I wanted to join Urban Harvest to learn more about vegetable garden design. I met Ben (head of Urban Harvest) online when I was in France. It made me very excited to come and join the journey. However, when I got to Cape Town the water restrictions had just started. It was not allowed to water the gardens with council water! From here, we decided I had to develop a system that treats and recycles greywater. I contacted a friend of mine who has a company that installs plant-based water filters in France. We sorted out that the project was definitely doable. The adventure began!
Working with and as one of the locals
I went to install the plant filters and water systems in schools like the Litha Primary School in Gugulethu and the Hangberg Pre-Primary School in Hout Bay. We now recycle the water from the basins and washing machines. It’s filtered by the system that we installed is filtered and then used to water their new vegetable garden. I discovered other communities and met the people from Townships while managing the construction site. I and the other workers only had in mind to give everybody access to good quality recycled water for communities that really need it! That is an amazing and blessed experience! In the end, I learned a lot about local life but also about valuable skills like plumbing, electrics, building or automated irrigation. I can’t believe how complete this volunteer work placement was and how I grew from it!
Letting something behind me
During my Urban Harvest internship, I also trained Edmore, one of the employees. He is now able to install these recycling systems as well. This is more than wonderful! I grew with Urban Harvest and I helped Urban Harvest to grow! Now they have a new activity on their list, and they are abler than ever to install the water-wise edible garden. I must also say that it could not have been possible without all the trust and confidence than Ben and his team have expressed in me all the time. I am grateful for this life-changing experience.
Roots Interns has bottom-up as well as top-down communication flows and both are equally important. The intern updates the general manager on a regular/daily base and vice versa. There is a monthly report session between the directors and managers as line communication flows but also parallel and diagonal communication throughout official meetings. The workers constantly share important experiences, next steps, and general developments. Generally, communication flows are smooth and balanced. The team is very honest and direct in their way of communicating.
However, sometimes there seem to be some interruptions and misunderstandings because of the different communication channels in use. There might be a communication exchange through texting via Whatsapp that goes into a voice message or a call, followed by emails that include other employees. Subsequently, errors occur and it takes more time to update everyone and basically does double communication. I was surprised that this even happens in a small company like this. It also happens because not everyone is always in the office and Marleen usually comes in only once a week. However, we detected these misunderstandings and improved our communication flows accordingly.