A housing cooperative in Budiriro is set to change the face of high density neighbourhoods, by setting an example and planting trees.
Trees in high density areas are often few and far between. Frequently the indigenous trees, if there are any, are cleared for construction. Water shortages mean that there is seldom much greenery, and many neighbourhoods are dusty and unwelcoming.
‘Growing Together’ was established in Budiriro towards the end of last year, just before the start of the rainy season. The programme was set up by pilot donor Tom Soper, and Zviito Kupera, the main organiser. Kupera is a member of the housing co-operative so he is very committed to the project’s success and is on hand to monitor progress. The project involves around 36 members of the housing co-operative.
Growing Together has a number of different goals. The trees are intended to help prevent soil erosion and the leaching of nutrients, as well as improving water retention, making it easier to grow grass, vegetables and other crops. Fruit trees will help to provide healthy food, supplementing the residents’ diet and strengthening food security. Excess fruit can be bartered or sold. The trees will create shade and help to control dust while adding to the visual appeal of the area, increasing property values.
The Growing Together project is owned and administered by the housing co-operative, giving residents a sense of pride in their community as well as an increased sense of social responsibility. It’s also proving to be a great way to introduce environmental and conservation issues to children and to educate them about the important role trees play in the ecosystem.
Recently, a proposal for further development of the programme was presented at a co-operative monthly meeting where it received an enthusiastic and positive response. The proposal recommended that fruit trees be planted within each member’s yard, while indigenous shade trees and decorative trees are to be planted on the verges in front of the houses and in the shared communal spaces. The chairman and committee of the co-operative have arranged for holes to be prepared in advance and two tree planting days were organised with much enthusiasm and excitement from the community.
About 150 trees, a mixture of fruit trees (avocados, mangoes, guavas, oranges and others) and indigenous trees (Acacias, Fever trees, Erythrinas/Lucky bean trees, Water berry trees and others) are to be planted. Most of the trees were bought from the Forestry Commission Nursery and advice and assistance was provided by personnel from COSMO Indigenous Tree Nursery. Kupera reports that the trees have been well looked after and are now thriving. Not only are the trees doing well and improving the neighbourhood, Kupera reports that the community has a new sense of pride and ownership.
One of the aims of setting up the project was to create a way for residents of other high density suburbs to communicate and interact with environmentally conscious individuals and corporates, nurseries and tree growers and interested donors. Funds are always needed to buy the tree seedlings and other basic supplies like compost for planting as well as the right tools. Soper and Kupera hope that if the project grows and thrives in other areas it might eventually need one or two employees to market the scheme to potential donors, and to promote the programme to other housing co-operative committees. They would also like to establish a stock of trees ready to supply other interested communities and co-operatives to plant this year just before the rainy season starts.
Image: A young Budiriro resident plays her part in greening her suburb.
For more information or to make a contribution, or to share ideas, contact Tom Soper on 0772 240 663.