Green was the theme that dominated a recent field trip by 80 first-year construction and property studies students who teamed up with NGO Green Communities and a local community to add splashes of indigenous, water-wise greenery to the gardens of new homeowners in Witsand, Atlantis.
The event was pulled together by students of UCT's Association of Built Environment, based in the Department of Construction Economics and Management. There were two overlapping goals: to get to know their classmates and mentors while helping a local community.
The exercise called for some muscle - and fortitude on a hot Saturday - as participants partnered with homeowners to lug plants, trees, compost and mulch to the designated homes.
The result was 90 new little green lungs in the community.
But it was not about cosmetic change. Run by the Western Cape Government's Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the flagship project at Witsand serves as an integrated Energy, Environment, Empowerment - Cost Optimisation Methodology initiative.
The department asked Green Communities to work with the community to green 200 new homeowners' gardens. But as there is a history of erosion, which causes serious damage to homes, the brief was to stabilise the sand to mitigate water and wind erosion. Also, the greening had to be indigenous, water-wise, encourage biodiversity and contribute to food security.
"Through this initiative, UCT students changed the landscape of a local community," said Green Communities' Alison Coutras.
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