In 2016 when Andrew Hofmeyr and Landia Davies moved to Swellendam they found the area at the back of the old VF Park overgrown with black wattle trees and blue gums. But, in amongst the alien invasive plant species, there was a spattering of indigenous plants – wild peaches, klip els, tree fuchsias and yellowwoods. Andrew was inspired by the potential of the area to become an art trail where the community could walk, see art and learn more about the plants and animals of the area…
He envisioned it becoming an Environmental Sculpture Park, full of interesting objects made by artists within the community and from farther afield, a place that would bring people to Swellendam from all over the world.
After making a few enquiries the municipality suggested that Andrew apply for curatorship of the area under the Adopt-a-spot program. In January 2017, Andrew and Landia along with Monique and Kenneth Ralls from Monken’s with help from Siphiwe planted the first trees in a clearing at the very beginning of the trail, a circle of hope.
And so it was that the Masbiekers Valley Project came to be.
Why is it called Masbiekers Valley Project?
The Masbiekers’ Kloof (valley) has a history that dates back to the freeing of the slaves way back in 1835. Legend has it that the freed, unskilled slaves had nowhere to go and so ended up living in the Kloof thus the name Masbieker’s. In the past, “Masbieker” was a derogatory term for someone who was unskilled and lived in the bush. Since then the Kloof has become a site for wood cutting, dumping and continued its legacy as a home for the displaced and homeless. But, things are changing… for the better.