Living in some of the Western Cape’s most impoverished communities, Tree-preneurs are taught how to care for indigenous trees and plants.

G4 G Treepreneurs Lesley Joemat 724x703
Spier provides land, facilities and a manager to drive Tree-preneurs in the Cape. This project teaches members of impoverished communities how to care for indigenous plants. Once the seedlings they’ve been given to nurture are big enough, these are exchanged for food vouchers, clothing, bicycles, educational support and other essentials.
Established in 2009

A few key facts

Tree-preneurs since 2009


The project has contributed to improving the lives of more than 310 Tree-preneurs in 12 communities

Bartered indigenous trees

1 million


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Spier teamed up with Wildlands Conservation Trust to launch Tree-preneurs in the Western Cape in 2009, providing it with a base on the farm from which to operate, as well as free water and electricity.

Tree-preneurs are given seedlings to nurture; once these have reached a certain length, they can be exchanged for vouchers for food, clothing, agricultural goods, tools, bicycles and educational support.

Project manager Lesley Joemat has built a strong personal relationship with the growers. When she’s not out visiting them to distribute seedlings, containers, soil and compost, and to offer advice on growing trees, she’s busy running the Tree-preneurs nursery at Spier, which is home to over 23,000 trees, plants and succulents. Many of the trees and plants are planted in disadvantaged areas of Stellenbosch in need of greening, donated to schools, NGOs, churches and used to rehabilitate the Plankenbrug River and Dwars River.

The items exchanged with growers in return for trees – whether bikes for those without transport, or educational support for those struggling to pay school fees – unlock opportunities, provide support and spark inspiration. The project nourishes environmental consciousness in the communities where growers live; it also empowers others to make a positive difference. A powerful example of this is Tannie Babs Visagie, a Tree-preneur from Heather Park who runs a food kitchen, using the vouchers earned from her trees to buy food for orphans in her community. Since she joined the project in 2011, she has bartered over 9300 trees, including 1250 spekboom plants currently showcased on the verandahs at Spier Hotel.

Since the project launched in the Western Cape, it’s helped to improve the lives of more than 310 Tree-preneurs in 12 communities through the bartering of over 1 million trees.

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Blog stories

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