The Sour Fig Challenge

Sour fig is very cheap, easy-to-grow and useful indigenous Fynbos plant and is a great replacement for the very common invasive weedy grass species that dominate our public open spaces and road verges and drain our maintenance budget. Communitree is using Sour fig as a tool to enable members of the public to help restore Fynbos to urban spaces, and connect isolated Fynbos nature reserves. Working in public and private areas, we are planting Sour fig to hold back the return of invasive species (largely Kikuyu grass) and create highways for indigenous insects and small animals.

The sour fig challenge is an initiative to start reconnecting our isolated Fynbos patches and extend our Fynbos network out to other potential sites, so that in the long term a corridor is built from all the joined-up patches.The sourfig trail is a planning tool for later developing into an insect corridor with more than one species of plant.

The sour fig challenge has a deeper meaning. It is a way for us people to work together on a project across social and spatial divides that remain entrenched from a painful past. Redressing these divides is delicate work and needs to be done gently. By working together on the Sourfig Challenge, we have an opportunity to collaborate and work through these issues with an ecologically simple challenge.   

Sour fig, Suurvy or Carpobrotus edulis is a very versatile and useful plant that survives well even in the most impacted urban areas. It is an easy-to-grow plant that develops into dense mats with low-maintenance and watering. Sourfig fruit is a popular edible fruit for us humans and it is well-liked for traditional medicinal practices. It provides food for baboon, eland, tortoises, honey bees and other insects and shelter for various small animals. Its benefits extend to the fact that it is drought resistant and can be used as a pioneer species that prepares the way for more sensitive species to re-establish in an area.

The sour fig challenge challenges us to create a really long chain of sour fig across the landscape in built up residential areas. This exciting project is a way to:

  1. engage members of the public in corridor planning across residential areas

  2. to generate interest in growing plants and a way to create publicity

  3. to show that members of the public can play a meaningful and responsible role in Fynbos conservation

The aim is to create a connection between all Fynbos patches from 2018 and connect them to the new ones in 2019, from Mowbray to Bonteheuwel, 9 kilometers.

The stretch will be broken down into segments that each group or person is responsible for. Potential areas include Mowbray, Rosebank, Rondebosch, Park Estate, Sybrand Park, Pinelands, Hazendal, Athlone, Brakenfell, Langa, Bonteheuwel.

In the long term, the trail will be developed into a walking route too, that links the people of the area, and makes the existing walking routes more beautiful for pedestrians.

It will be marked clearly as a pedestrian and insect highway.

Many thanks to the following partner(s) with whom we collaborate in this project.

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