Another very succesful Arbour Day Sale

Arbour Day :
Every year in August GEKCO has an Arbour Month! We source and sell indigenous trees to our members and the public at very reasonable prices. We also have a one day Arbour sale, usually the first Saturday of September. This highly successful event was first held in 2007 and has been run yearly. The objective is to raise awareness of indigenous trees and their benefits in terms of lower water usage and compatibility with local fauna.  Please send us an email to be added to the list so that we can contact you with our tree prices in 2012

Permaculture Courses:

a great example of apermaculture garden

We have held 4 very successful Permaculture weekend workshops run by John Nzira. John was born in Zimbabwe and currently lives and works in South Africa. He is an African Permaculture legend and has been teaching and establishing farms, orchards and gardens for twenty years. A former coordinator of the Fambidzanai Permaculture Training Centre and program manager for Food and Trees for Africa, he is currently the director for the Ukuvuna Permaculture Consultancy. John is a recipient of the DEAT award for conservation and the Silver Gilt medal 2006 Chelsea Flower Show UK Royal Horticultural Society presented by HRH Queen Elizabeth. His aim is the development of practical skills in permaculture food gardens, nutrition, medicinal food and landscaping with indigenous plants. In 2011 John received 2 awards from the Dept of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) – one for water conservation and management and the other for being an Ambassador for Community Projects

We are just completed a gardeners/grooms permaculture course held at Beaulieu Prep School. We now have another 16 particpants who know how to grow food for themselves and their families

Important information for saving money and our planet

Green Energy:
Gekco hosted an energy talk in September 20122 to educate members about how to reduce the cost of energy.

The talk entitled Sustainable Energy and your pocket hosted various knowledgeable speakers including Marc Desfontaines, from Greencon Solar Tech. He discussed the The good, the bad and plain stupid energy solutions for your home and business, good technology options and implementation solutions, some really bad ideas i.e.renewable snake oil and budget and payback expectations.   It was a most informative evening


Peak Oil: Cuba’s Solution (June 2008)

As peak oil and climate change become a reality, GEKCO arranged a viewing of the DVD The Power of Community which documents how Cuba was forced to adapt when its oil supply dried up following the collapse of the Soviet Union and continuing boycotts and sanctions from the USA. Cuba’s transition and the community response is thought-provoking and provides a way forward for communities facing similar challenges in the face of high oil, transport and food prices urban food growing using permaculture techniques which follow nature’s patterns was a key part of increasing Cuba’s food security, and the city of Havana now produces over 60% of its fruit and salad vegetables within the city and its suburbs.

Grassland Conservation in Midrand: managing our shrinking heritage

early morning dew

We held a very succesful Grassland Conference – thanks go to Alan Short for his initiative!

Fire in grasslands
Mike Panagos of the Tshwane University of Technology discussed the ecological role of fire in grasslands, as well as the legal and practical issues around burning

Conservation of small animals
Vincent Carruthers, author of Frogs and Frogging in Southern Africa and The Wildlife of Southern Africa, discussed how best to manage the land to look after the smaller birds, reptiles and mammals, and in particular grass-dwelling animals

Wetland management
John Dini of Working for Wetlands, addressed the questions of what is the ecological role of wetlands in a developed environment, and what are the ecological and legal consequences of poor wetland management?

Sustainable building practice
Alastair Armstrong from In Synch Sustainable Technologies talked about: What is embodied energy? What sustainable options are there for building in the 21st Century?

Saving our Wetlands:

a very happy bullfrog

Wetland Rehabilitation in Gauteng: Opportunities & Constraints by Retief Grobler:
It was only in the latter portion of the previous century that the importance of and need to protect wetland ecosystems was recognised. Until recently wetlands were regarded as wasted spaces that were generally ill suited for conventional agriculture and thought fit only to breed mosquitoes and other disease carrying animals. Different societies and cultures have been reclaiming and transforming wetlands into more useful land types for centuries, as these ecosystems were and still are in direct competition with humans for space and water. What remains therefore tends to be transformed and few truly pristine wetlands persist, especially in areas where human settlement has been long and/or concentrated. Why then do we regard wetlands of value now and why do we try and rehabilitate them in transformed urban landscapes, such as Gauteng? In addition, what do we strive for in terms of wetland rehabilitation and what are the selection parameters currently applied?

Retief, is a MSc Botany student at the University of Pretoria, currently researching subsistence farming in peat swamp forests of the Kosi Bay Lake System. He has been working as a wetland ecologist in Gauteng, involved in wetland-related rehabilitation, inventory, education, and consulting. His interests also include a broad scope of disciplines associated with wetlands, such as vegetation, geomorphology, soil science, hydrology and geology. Peatlands are especially close to his heart. He is married to a plant taxonomist working at the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Owl Talk:

an owl at the talk

Jonathan Haw of EcoSolutions operates the Urban Owl Box Project and Raptor Centre at Broederstroom. The hissing basket that he carried in with him contained a very inquisitive and friendly three and half week old Spotted Eagle Owl which had been rescued and brought to the centre. Jonathan gave a highly entertaining and informative talk which will be written up in detail in the next Kyalami Country News.  Please do not use rat poison in the GEKCO area.  Rather encourage owls by having a few owl boxes on your property.   Not only will you keep the rat population down but you will also help to preserve these prescious birds that help us in such amazing ways.  Owls breed, and their young are ready to be independant after about a month.  This would greatly increase the dwindling population of owls in the area.   Besides eagle ows we also have grass owls which are a red data species and are protected.  They live in the grass in wetland areas.  Another great reason to look after our wetlands

Tour of Greater Kyalami for Retail Africa and Bokomoso:

Beaulieu Prep students protesting about the proposed mall

Over the past two years one of GEKCO’s key roles has been monitoring developers to ensure that they are meeting their environmental obligations. In order to take a more constructive and proactive role, GEKCO recently hosted Retail Africa and Bokomoso on a tour of greater Kyalami. Retail Africa and Bokomoso have bought 17 hectares on the south-western corner of Main Rd (P70) and the R55 (opposite Beaulieu Prep) on which they are proposing developing a shopping mall. Recognising strong opposition among local residents to yet another shopping mall in an area whose retail needs are already over-catered for, GEKCO’s objective was to introduce them to the greater Kyalami area, its diversity and strengths, highlighting the equine industry and the equestrian lifestyle.

The Natural Step (July 2008) By Jeremy Burnham

Valuable insight to make one think!

The Natural Step is an international advisory organisation and think-tank which engages with leaders, government and individuals to create strategies to turn the tide of environmental collapse and to generate new more sustainable solutions. This talk gave insight into the four basic principles which are the cause of degradation of our earth. Once we understand these principles we can make changes in our own lives to create a sustainable future for our children and our children’s children.



Bats are our friends!

Bat Talk:
Nigel Fernsby, Chairman of the Gauteng and Northern Regions Bat Interest Group, debunked common myths and fears about bats and enlightened horse owners on how bats could help reduce the ‘miggies’ that cause horse sickness as well as alleviate mosquitoes.