Sun City is plowing back into community

Henry

An entire orchard of citrus trees not only provides food for local communities in the North West, but also much-needed skills for young people who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to enter the workforce.

Sun City recently plowed back into the surrounding communities by planting hundreds of citrus trees and using them to train young people in the agricultural industry.

The resort’s social and economic development program launched a project last year that creates job opportunities for young people in the area.

The project initially planted 100 citrus trees at the Sedibelo Secondary School and the Temogo special school. All the learners and teachers at these schools were involved in planting the trees and now work together to maintain them.

This year, another 550 citrus trees were purchased, of which 250 were planted in an orchard at Sun City.

The rest was donated to six schools in the Moses Kotane local municipality and the Rustenburg municipality. The resort also donated the necessary irrigation equipment to ensure that the citrus trees are maintained and can flourish.

Tebogo Mokgejane, Sun City’s interest group manager, says the project already bore fruit last year when it trained unemployed youths in citrus business management.

The Citrus Academy took in a total of 23 unemployed youths to be trained in citrus business management. All these students achieved an NQF level 2 qualification, which is equivalent to a gr. 10 certificate. A total of six of the students succeeded in achieving an NQF level 4 qualification, which is equivalent to a National Senior Certificate or a matric certificate.

“Together with the courses, the youth also learned tree pruning techniques from Sun City’s gardening services, which they are already applying to help take care of the citrus trees,” he says.

“The addition of more trees to the orchard at Sun City will also give the other students the opportunity to continue to apply their knowledge practically and to also help maintain the trees.”

More than just trees

Basetsana Motha, Sun City’s environmental manager, says the whole aim of the project is to promote food security and “to cultivate interest in food production among the youth”.

“The nutrition programs of the schools that received the citrus trees will benefit from this, as they have a free source of healthy, fresh produce,” she says.

“The sponsored citrus trees can also be a source of income for schools if they sell them. The money can be used to fund extracurricular activities or improve the school’s infrastructure.”

In celebration of National Tree Planting Week, Sun City recently hosted an educational environmental awareness session during which learners and teachers from neighboring schools came together to learn about trees. They also helped plant some of the citrus trees at Sun City.

“This event promoted the importance of trees, and taught young children the importance of trees in helping to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.”

Lwazi Mswelanto, Sun City’s sustainability manager, says Sun City has always focused on community development and that all its projects are focused on equipping communities with skills.

“It’s a reciprocal relationship, because the communities rely on Sun City for employment and we rely on them to provide services so we can serve visitors. So for us it is of crucial importance to be able to give back to our communities.”