Chameleons Montessori School is situated on the picturesque Nitida Wine Farm in Durbanville. Nitida is a fully functional working wine farm. As such there are certain farming practices e.g. the spraying of the vineyards with pesticides, which may have an impact upon the school environment. This vineyard spraying takes place during the months of September through to January.
In 2010 the Chameleons Montessori school community set up an Environmental Health Committee (EHC) to investigate the possible side effects of exposure to the crop spraying in the surrounding vineyards, specifically with regard to the health of all those at the school. The committee was made up of parents and staff at the school who consulted with various experts on the subject.
Within the same year the EHC elicited the services of Prof. Leslie London at UCT to do in-depth environmental testing on the school grounds. UCT tested air, grass and dust samples. The results of the testing were then discussed at a meeting of the following parties on 28th June 2011: Professor Leslie London of UCT, Nitida Wine Farm, the Departments of Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Agriculture & the Dept of Toxicology at Tygerberg Hospital, as well as the Chameleons EHC. At this meeting it was agreed that the school could continue on the farm, providing that we follow the school’s Environmental Health Policy.
With the test results from UCT and the vineyard spraying policy in place Chameleon’s families were then better equipped to make a more informed decision about their child’s enrollment in the school. An informed consent letter is signed by each family upon enrolment into the school.
Prior to this time questions regarding the children’s safety on the farm arose and it was for this reason that the EHC was formed and UCT was brought in. There were articles in local newspapers and an interview on Carte Blanche. Thankfully this negative coverage was soon demystified by the UCT test results.