Ongoing sustainable projects
Our path to a more sustainable village is varied and we are concentrating on the hard and soft elements of sustainability, covering aspects of social, environmental and financial health for a kinder, gentler, restorative and resilient future.
Our projects include:
- Continuing the transition from lawns to indigenous plants – specifically plants that are useable. Kikuyu and kweek, the two main lawn grasses, are aggressive in their consumption of rare moisture and nutrients. Fynbos, on the other hand, flourishes in systems of symbiosis, species working together with vast systems of fungal mycorrhizae to bring water and nutrients across the entire community. We support a diverse and complex natural system, working together to share resources rather than aggressive mono cultures. In 2016, we removed nearly a hectare of lawns and planted Fynbos gardens that are maturing and provide colour and texture throughout the year.
- Our battle with lawn grasses in fynbos areas has now transformed through a shift in approach: 1) All remaining lawns are sheet mulched and not physically pulled out. The sheet mulching are layers of card board (sourced from resort or by people at landfill that separates it for pick-up) packed over lawn, then soil is built on top of card board with garden clippings, ash from braai areas and sand from building sites. This allows us to build good soil over lawn and in the process completely eliminating the problem of lawns coming up in the plant beds. 2) We are using the lawn grasses are used to keep our road surfaces in tact, the tough fibers keep the surface of the road from eroding in rain and by use of cars.
Teaching (and being taught by) our staff on the local uses of indigenous herbs. Staff members and guest are encouraged to learn more about these plants and harvest them for personal use. We have incorporated these indigenous plants in bath oils, salt scrubs, flower baths and soap, and as processed dried and fresh herbs. Yvette has compiled local traditions, passed on by our female staff members (who learnt it from their grandmothers), as well as information gained from books into a compilation called Woman’s Book of Herbs at Cederkloof, available in our library (coming soon).
Replanting the extinct Clanwilliam cedar tree in the mountains and in the gardens. You will see these trees in their green shade netting. There are 28 trees doing well (they were planted in 2015) – every single one of them is named, measured and carefully watched.
Grey-water systems at all the houses. Each unit has a grey-water system that feeds the gardens. The Jacuzzis, showers and hand basins are all connected to these systems that slow, stop, seep, save and store water back into the gardens. Our grey-water swales also help us with retaining more water during the winter rains and reduce run-off and erosion. We encourage guests to use biodegradable or eco-friendly body products so that we can more easily clean the water in these water systems.
Electricity meters are on all the Jacuzzis. This allows us to monitor our electricity use and to employ power-saving techniques. Our aim is to reach the absolute minimum footprint.
Our building projects incorporate recycled materials that are generated on site (see the waste section below for more detail). In brief:
- All cardboard and paper is used to sheet mulch the lawns.
- All garden debris is used to sheet mulch the lawns.
- All lawns, grasses and weeds are used to fix the gravel road and prevent erosion.
- All glass is washed and used in the building of screen walls and our nursery.
- All green waste from the units are used in worm bins and compost heaps.
- Most of our plants are propagated on site.
Other indirect effects of our policies:
Our no-noise policy helps to make people aware of the impact of sound and the beauty of the absence of sound pollution.
Most people do not drive in their cars while they are here. One of the first measures we took was to remove the units from the cars as much as possible. This measure is still not complete, but we will move towards less contact with cars and less sighting of cars while you are here.
We want to move towards the lowest possible water footprint, and still give people the opportunity to relax in all the wonders that water bring to us. Our water-saving methods have been covered in the points above, but they are worth mentioning again:
- Removing water-hungry plants, such as lawn grasses, and replacing them with indigenous plants that will survive and thrive on rainwater alone.
- Grey-water systems for the units so that all the water from the units are used in the root zone of the plants. These systems also slow and seep rain water for longer plant availability.