Post authored by Dr Michelle Eckert
EucXylo had the privilege of joining our sibling groups (also funded by the Hans Merensky Foundation) to celebrate the legacy that Dr. Merensky left behind over the course of a 3-day trip. On arrival, we took an amazing tour of the plantations at his original farm (Westfalia) in Tzaneen, learning about the legendary Dr. Merensky – walking where he walked, standing where he stood. We also got to see the dam that Dr. Merensky built – which was not only for himself – but also for the community of farms in the surrounding area (an example of the kind of long-term and altruistic thinking that was typical of him, as also exemplified by the Foundation that funds us).
Figure 1. Dr. Stefan Köhne giving a talk on the Hans Merensky Dam for the EucXylo team
Figure 2. The Hans Merensky Dam
The rest of the trip was spent at the Fairview Hotel in Tzaneen. No, it is not what you think – there was definitely no time for golf or lazing about! We spent time with the trustees and board members, listening to talks and learning about Dr. Merensky, the Foundation, the inner workings of the company and their values. We were also given the opportunity to learn what our sibling groups were doing regarding their own research, and the groups mingled as we discussed what we had learned about the Merensky history and legacy, and then presented our own thoughts. We all walked away from the intense program with a new sense of purpose and an appreciation for what Dr. Merensky started: if it was not for him, we would not be EucXylo!
Figure 3. EucXylo at one of the oldest Eucalyptus trees on the estate. Shown is Miss Yenziwe Mbuyisa (left), Prof. David Drew (right) and Dr. Kim Martin (behind the tree) showing us the diameter of the tree.