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Alien trees converted to Christmas trees

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The Whakahou Tree Project entails alien trees being cut down and repurposed into decorative Christmas trees, by being potted into repurposed Hessian coffee sacks.   Photo:supplied
The Whakahou Tree Project entails alien trees being cut down and repurposed into decorative Christmas trees, by being potted into repurposed Hessian coffee sacks. Photo:supplied

WITH the festive season fast approaching and the hardships that have come with COVID-19, two local organisations have come together and found a way to not only contribute towards creating a more eco-friendly environment but also give back to charity.

MyAfricanMum and the local rural Eastern Cape farming community have found their purpose in repurposing by means of the Whakahou Tree Project.

The initiative entails alien trees being cut down and repurposed into decorative Christmas trees, by being potted into repurposed Hessian coffee sacks (Hessian grow bags).

To add to this, 20% of the proceeds will be repurposed into donations to Thandusana Babies Safe Home, which is in dire need of support, especially in the form of basic essentials like nappies, baby food and cleaning materials.

The Eastern Cape farming community’s Michelle Hardy-Berrington, said that pine trees and other similar alien species like blue gums, rooikranz and Port Jackson, among others, are very damaging pioneer plants in the Eastern Cape, taking over the landscape and restricting indigenous growth and grazing cover for stock farmers.

“By removing these juvenile pine trees, it reduces unnecessary ground water consumption, limits bushfire risk, and helps increase indigenous biodiversity,” she said.

When she saw a MyAfricanMum social media post on the recycling of Hessian coffee sacks into grow bags, she approached them to use the grow bags to plant alien juvenile pine trees growing on the Berrington family farm in the Sidbury area, turning them into decorative Christmas trees.

“The idea was initially for a school project; however, we put our heads together and decided to do a project that could positively impact on the whole of Gqeberha,” Hardy-Berrington said. Naomi Ledoux from MyAfricanMum, said that the business wanted to find a purpose during this time.

She believes that in coming together with the Eastern Cape farming community and giving back to the community by donating proceeds to the safe home, is exactly the purpose that they were searching for.

“This is the first time that we are running this project and we would like to do it more frequently in future.

“Although Christmas decorations are very seasonal products, we’ll have to think of another way that we can continue to make the product relevant all year round,” Ledoux explained.

Hardy-Berrington added that they love how they can come together like this.

“We don’t think people realise how invasive the alien trees are to our local farmers and if there is a way to help eradicate them overtime, while blessing others, one must just hope that the project will become a standard Gqeberha festive event.”

When asked about the name of the project, Ledoux explained that Whakahou is Maori and basically means “repurpose”. She was playing around with names and this one stuck.

The Whakahou trees will be sold at R100 each. However, there are early bird offers of R80 each which will run until November 21.

All early bird Whakahou trees will be available from November 22 for collection at Hardywoods, 67 3rd Avenue, Newton Park.

The reason for the delayed collection is to ensure that the trees will stay green until Christmas.

“It would be amazing to raise R5 000 for the safe home. Just imagine if we could do that. That is just over 300 Whakahou trees,” Ledoux said.

To purchase your Whakahou tree, the following website can be visited: https://myafricanmum.com/product/whakahou-tree-decorative-christmas-tree.

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