Kei-apples offering organic security at Soweto school

Landscapers use plants for many reasons - for food, shade, to control erosion, to attract wildlife and to lower maintenance costs, but here is a story about how a feisty plant, the kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra), has been used as a form of affordable organic security.

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Security Issues at Schools

“Before I built a wall I'd ask to know, what I was walling in or walling out” – Robert Frost

Life Green Group takes care of Morutathuto Primary School in Soweto. The headmistress approached our Chief Financial Officer, Rob Lewis,  regarding a security issue with the palisade fencing. Firstly, the palisade fencing does not stop the children interacting or trading with  strangers. Secondly, the pupils are able to dig under the fence so they can bunk school. Lastly, parts of the fence have been unsuccessful in keeping buglers out.

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Being a corporate landscaping company that takes care of many school gardens across the country we found a sustainable solution in plant kingdom.

Why landscapers love Kei-Apples

"Good fences make good neighbours". - Robert Frost

The kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra) is fantastic evergreen shrub, despite being slow growing. The fruits are packed with Vitamin C and are edible to humans and wildlife, although it has a slightly acid taste. It is a hardy shrub that gets to about 5 metres high.

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Landscapers predominantly use kei-apples as hedges; however it is more than just a hedge -  the kei-apple has epidural-like thorns offer a great deal of protection. An established kei-apple fence is almost impenetrable to man or beast.

This shrub is aptly suited to the task as it is a water-wise choice taking away little from the Morutathuto’s valuable water resources.

For Life Green Group the kei-apples that have been planted at Morutathuto will act as affordable and sustainable security check and a healthy snack for children at play time.

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Not only with the children and teacher benefit from this over-protective shrub but fruit-eating birds will be attracted to the Morutathuto gardens.

Why schools are choosing kei-apples:

  • Hardy shrub can handle drought and frost
  • Vicious thorns that make for a protective hedge
  • Evergreen so no sweeping leaves
  • Gives healthy fruit that children can enjoy
  • Readily propagated to make more if you wish to extend the hedge (although is slow growing)
  • Great plant for urban wildlife.

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Life Green Group and Partners for Possibility

Morutathuto is Life Green Group's chosen social entity, in which we play an advisory and mentorship role for the school. Life Green Group embarked on doing the school’s garden’s in 2015 for World Environment Day. Our Chief Financial Officer, Rob Lewis, acts as a mentor to this chess champ, spelling-besotted school working closely with the principle Mrs. Mashile. In addition to the kei-apples, we have also celebrated Mandela Day with the children, helped stock the library and upgrade the school's computer room.

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