The Simonsig Wine Estate crèche and aftercare centre together with the Devon Valley Primary School became the first recipients of a consignment of 30 BMX bicycles donated to the Bottelary Hills Conservancy (BHC) as part of a community outreach programme by the Stellenbosch Rotary Club.

According to Derek Moss of Stellenbosch Rotary, the organisation secured more than 600 BMX Huffy Bicycles through Bicycles for Humanity Seattle to distribute to NGO’s in the greater Stellenbosch area.  “Stellenbosch is one of the most popular mountain bike destinations in the Western Cape offering various trail options, most of which run through farms and conservation areas on the rural outskirts of Stellenbosch.  This combined with the positive impact sport can have on the lives of children made the BHC a perfect fit for our outreach programme,” says Moss.

The Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy (BHC) is a registered non-profit organisation (NPO) that forms part of the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve approved and listed by UNESCO on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. 

Although the core focus of the BHC is to care for, expand and sustain the large tracts of remaining Renosterveld in the area, there is a strong emphasis on community development.   Education, skills development and job creation as well as community projects aim to address socio economic challenges.  

There is a strong focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD) within the agricultural community.  Working with four primary schools and two pre-schools that collectively accommodate 2230 children from the area, poor reading and literacy skills were identified as stumbling blocks amongst learners.   This lead to the introduction of the Do and Learn Programme to teach basic Afrikaans reading and writing at three primary schools in the BHC resulting in a remarkable improvement in reading skills. 

According to Christel Liebenberg of the BHC, community outreach programmes would not be possible without the valuable support of committed farm residents, farm owners, private businesses, university departments, governmental bodies and organisations such as the Stellenbosch Rotary Club. 

“While alien plant clearing has been an ongoing initiative of the BHC, the project has intensified since the opening of the Bottelary Hills MTB Trails in April 2011 as a revenue source.  To date in excess of 500 hectares of Renosterveld have been cleared. The 65km Bottelary Hills MTB Trails offer spectacular views and multiple route options that cater for various skill and fitness levels,” states Liebenberg.  

Access points to the trails include Devonvale on the Bottelary side, Devon Valley, Asara and Overgaauw on the Stellenbosch side and Zevenwacht and Hazendal on the Kuilsriver side of the Bottelary Hills.  Annual permits can be purchased online at www.bottelaryconservancy.co.za, while day permits are also available from selected points.   For more information contact christel@bottelaryconservancy.co.za

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