The original home and passionate heart of Toy Project, the picturesque Groenfontein Valley is tucked into the foothills of the Swartberg outside Calitzdorp. The setting is typical Klein Karoo - a lush twisting valley, with a river called the Nels meandering slowly through it. Despite this natural appeal, day to day life isn't particularly easy for the local residents. Farming has all but died in the valley, and unemployment rates are high - with the attendant social problems that follow in their wake. Bearing daily witness to this from the comfort of our beautiful farm stoep, we felt compelled to do something. The Groenfontein Toy Project was the result - a humble initiative that involved a needle and thread, a few fabric offcuts, and a willing set of hands. Three years down the line, the project provides full-time employment for eight highly skilled women - all of whom were once chronically unemployed.
Socio-economically, the Green Valley community perched above Wittedrift village, 12km from Plettenberg Bay, is a little different to our Groenfontein group in the Klein Karoo. Due to a fortunate post-Apartheid twist of fate, most locals here own their properties - unlike the Groenfontein community. As a result the community is generally more stable. In this particular case we decided to link up with an existing local sewing group working out of a garage. From the outset it was a hand-in-glove match: Toy Project had the product and the marketing platform, the ladies of Green Valley had the skill and motivation - but at the time no real product to speak of. The subsequent partnership with our lively 'Ya-Ya Sisterhood' has grown from strength to strength, with approximately eight women now in the ranks producing a highly sellable product for Toy Project.
Green Valley - Plettenberg Bay
Groenfontein Valley - Calitzdorp