Mother and daughter team up to plant trees in Platbos Forest. Photo by Michele Brooks
“In February 2011, I received a phone call from a man named Francois Krige, who was living in Platbos Forest, a place about which I had never heard before. My partner Misha met him and was inspired by his dedication to and knowledge of indigenous trees - he wanted to offer us help and advice. When we visited the forest a week later, we were overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and preciousness of this magical place, and drafted a proposal to get Greenpop involved with planting trees there - Melissa and Francois Krige were replanting the forest as part of their Trees for Tomorrow programme and we wanted to bring people and help out. Three months later, Misha, Jeremy, myself and 80 of our friends and family members joined Melissa and Francois and their family at Platbos and planted 1338 trees in a weekend, and the Reforest Fest was born.”
- Lauren O’Donnell, Greenpop Managing Director
The next year, Greenpop hosted a second Reforest Fest, where double the amount of people planted 2002 trees. In 2013, Greenpop hosted the Family Fest and the Friends Fest over two successive weekends, planting more 5001 trees over both.
Over the weekends of 9-11 and 16-18 May 2014, Greenpop returned to Platbos Forest for its fifth and sixth Reforest Fest, planting 3001 trees at the Family Fest and 7001 at the Friends Fest. All told, 622 people came together to plant 10 002 trees over both weekends, bringing the total trees planted at the Platbos Forest Reserve to date to 18 343 by Greenpop through the Reforest Fests. All trees planted as part of the reforestation efforts at Platbos Forest Reserve are endemic; the trees are grown in a nursery on site with seeds harvested from the old growth forest.
Hard at work with a beautiful view. Photo by Relevant Reality Photography
The Greenpop team - overjoyed at having planted 3000 trees in a day at the Family Fest! Photo by Pursue / The / Wolf
Platbos is a unique combination of Afromontane forest, with Coastal Milkwood thicket forest species. The Afromontane trees include: white stinkwood (Celtis africana), wild peach (Kiggelaria africana), white pear (Apodytes dimidiata) and hard pears (Olinia ventosa). The Milkwood forest species include: milkwoods (Sideroxylon inerme), sea guarrie (Euclea racemosa) and pock ironwoods (Chionanthus foveolata) amongst others. There are 13 different forest tree species in total that make up the unique Platbos forest.
Less than 0.05% of the Western Cape is home to indigenous forest. In the past, Platbos extended over a much greater area but due to human interference (felling for agriculture and the later introduction of alien invasive tree species like rooi krans), the area of the forest was greatly reduced. The Platbos Forest Reserve covers 50 hectares in extent: in recognition of its unique and endangered status, Platbos has been awarded Contract Nature Reserve status with Cape Nature - a designation awarded to priority areas containing critically important habitats, which contain significant biodiversity value.
Platbos is an extremely unique forest and contributes enormously to conserving the last remnants of lowland forest in the Western Cape. Says Melissa Krige of the Platbos Forest Reserve, “People and forests share a common destiny - life as we know it depends on the continued existence of the world's old-growth forests. All attempts to protect and rehabilitate them are therefore of paramount importance. We greatly value the annual Greenpop Reforest Fests at Platbos, not only because of the huge contribution they bring to our Reforestation Project at Platbos, but because through them so many more people, from all walks of life, young and old, can come to learn about Platbos and to experience its unique and wonderful character.”
Planting Platbos Forest's newest tree. Photo by Relevant Reality Photography
The spade is mightier than the saw. Photo by Michele Brooks
The Family Fest:
Greenpop opened this year’s Reforest Fest with the Family Fest, which welcomed 177 planters of all shapes and sizes to the forest from 9-11 May. After a delicious dinner around the campfire, most turned in for an early night under the stars in prep for an early start to the Saturday plant.
The next morning, all woke up early to eat breakfast and enjoy a morning yoga class led by Maree Mirkovic from Treestar Yoga at the forest’s 1008-year old milkwood tree before being divided into their teams and heading off to the plant site. With children doing activities, shoveling mulch, or scurrying off on adventures to find forest creatures - or a combination of the three - planters banded together with spades in hand and infants strapped to backs to plant 3000 indigenous trees in a matter of hours! After showering, washing up, and enjoying another delicious meal, all in attendance gathered beneath the forest canopy to dance the night away to the smooth sounds of DJ Pure Incense and live music by Zoe & Vusa from Zula Sound Bar, Pat McKay from Two Minute Puzzle, and Jamie Jupiter, not forgetting the great talent show put on by the children to start off the evening.
On the Sunday, while the children enjoyed a performance by Vinnie From Zok of the Jungle Theatre and activities by 4Elemental Kids, parents enjoyed a set of talks, including a talk by Dr. Philip Sherwin on “the cause and cure of all diseases" and a presentation on the flow of water and Biomimicry by For Love of Water (FLOW). Greenpop concluded the festival with a special Mother’s Day tree planting dedicated to Melissa Krige, bringing the ultimate total of endemic trees planted at the Family Fest to 3001.
The Friends Fest:
After an extremely productive Family Fest, Greenpop returned to the forest to prepare for the sold-out Friends Fest, and from Friday began to welcome more than 450 guests to the forest. After setting up their tents and enjoying a leisurely dinner, guests gathered around the campfire to enjoy ghost stories and sing, drum, and dance the night away.
The next morning, after another revitalising yoga session by Maree, planters once again divided into teams and headed up to the plant site, where Francois could hardly deliver trees fast enough for the planters. By lunchtime, the five teams had planted 4500 trees, and after a quick lunch and an invigorating dance break to the tunes of DJ Lemonella, planted an additional 2501 by the time the sun had set. The following celebration lasted well into the night, for while Psychedelic Theater gave a spectacular LED hula-hooping performance underneath the forest canopy, planters danced to the sounds of Simon & The Bande A Part, Zoe & Vusa, TouchWood, the Country Conquerors, Grassy Spark and DJs Kimon, Bobzyouruncle and a Kaos Pilot DJ until the early hours.
On Sunday, some ambitious guests woke up for another yoga session with Maree, while others trickled into breakfast and into activities such as laughing yoga, forest walks with Francois, talks by representatives from Greenpeace and For Love of Water, a doodle session by Night of 1000 Drawings, and hula-hoop workshops with the Psychedelic Theatre. After a last lunch and walk through the forest, guests departed in the afternoon knowing that they had contributed to the biggest reforestation project that had ever taken place in Platbos Forest.
“The Reforest Fest was one of my favorite things I’ve done in my short time in South Africa. Like nothing else I’ve done here, this event brought together an incredibly special community of people who united for a common cause. I felt like we were doing something positive not just for the environment, but for the community of people that live in and enjoy that forest. It was a beautiful place filled with beautiful people united for a beautiful cause, and I couldn’t have asked for more from the weekend.”
- Eli Bovarnick, Friends Fest 2014
“The most exciting thing about these events to me is the community that comes together to get active, rather than anxious, about a sustainable future. The Reforest Fest simply wouldn't be possible without the amazing group of like-minded people coming together to make social and environmental change happen. We’re so excited about how much the festival as grown, and can’t wait to see where else in South Africa we can partner to help rebuild and recreate ecosystems by creating active communities of human doings!
- Misha Teasdale, Greenpop Tree-E-O
In three weeks, Greenpop will welcome several dozen volunteers from all over the world to the Greenpop Village in Livingstone, Zambia for the third annual Trees for Zambia Festival of Action: a three-week tree-planting and eco-education project to take place from 15 June to 6 July. On the project, volunteers will plant trees, educate children, learn about environmental issues through a range of lectures and interactive workshops, enjoy brilliant live music, and explore this beautiful corner of Africa. For more information, all are welcome to email email@example.com.
Greenpop Trees for Zambia - http://www.greenpop.org/projects/trees-for-zambia/
Additionally, for the first time Greenpop will bring the Reforest Fest to the Eastern Cape with the Hogsback Reforest Fest! From the 12-14 September 2014, Greenpop will be hosting another Reforest Fest at the Terra Khaya Lodge in the yellowwood forests of Hogsback in an attempt to restore and expand the home of the endangered Cape Parrot, of which there are only a few thousand left in the wild. All who attend can expect to plant thousands of trees, attend eco-workshops, do yoga in the forest, enjoy live music and delicious vegetarian meals, and visit the oldest yellowwood tree in the Eastern Cape!
Greenpop Hogsback Reforest Fest - https://www.facebook.com/events/786056728105451/
A Tree-mendous Thank You To Our Partners and Sponsors for the Platbos Reforest Fests:
We wouldn’t have been able to put on such a fantastic event without the help of our partners and sponsors. Our hugest thanks to:
Platbos Forest Reserve: for being Greenpop’s long time partner and allowing us to work together to restore this beautiful forest gem of the Western Cape. http://www.platbos.co.za/
Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Cape Town & Sandown Motors: for sponsoring the Sprinter van that transported several dozen team members and volunteers to the festival (it will be going to Trees for Zambia too). www.mercedes-benz.co.za
Starke Ayres Garden Centre: for providing countless seed packs and prizes for us to give to our hardworking planters, assisting with promotions through competitions, and for being a key sponsor of the event. http://www.starkeayresgc.co.za/
Hemporium: for providing us with all-natural hemp soaps which kept our planters as clean and dirt-free as possible and for being a key sponsor for the event! http://www.hemporium.com/
Faithful To Nature: for providing all in attendance with vouchers for all-natural products from their awesome eco online store: http://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/
Mediterranean Delicacies: for sponsoring a tremendous selection of dips, spreads and gourmet goodies for our lunchtime and dinner buffets. www.mediterraneandelicacies.co.za
GBCSA (Green Building Council of South Africa): for sponsoring 1000 of the 10 002 trees we planted over the weekends, and for attending the festival. This great organization and it’s members also sponsored 1000 trees for Platbos last year. https://www.gbcsa.org.za/
BOS Ice Tea: for the ice tea and all-natural energy drinks to keep our planters both hydrated and energised in addition to being Greenpop longest standing tree pledgee and event partner. www.bosicetea.com
Reliance Compost: for providing a relaxing couch of compost bags and organising a compost bag giveaway with Starke Ayres for all ticket holders, in addition to serving as a long-time major partner of Greenpop. http://reliance.co.za/
Knead Bakery: for the delicious rolls to keep our planters’ bellies full and energy up! www.kneadbakery.co.za
Fry’s Family Foods: for the vegetarian strips and pies that ensured our planters enjoyed nutritious lunches and dinners. www.frysvegetarian.co.za
Creative Catering: for working tirelessly to ensure that our planters and staff were well fed at all times on the project.
Sir Juice: for the delicious fruit juice, which we distributed on the plant site to give planters a much-needed energy boost as well as being one of our awesome tree pledge partners. www.sirjuice.co.za
Grolsch: for the beer that ensured our celebration parties were absolute hits! http://www.sab.co.za/sablimited/content/en/sab-grolsch
Stellar Organic Winery: for the wine that quenched the thirst of happy treevolutionaries. http://www.stellarorganics.com/
Cape Union Mart: for assisting us with promoting the event through competitions, and for giving away backpacks and water bottles as prizes for lucky winners! http://www.capeunionmart.co.za/
JoJo Tanks: for providing tanks we used to keep our planters healthy and hydrated. http://www.jojotanks.co.za/
Restio/Energy Care: for providing our team members with crucial solar lanterns, as well as giving away a few through competitions. http://www.restio.co.za/
Nano Bookings: for providing us with fire extinguishers to use in case of emergencies. http://www.nanomusic.net/
NoMU: for providing us with a “Domestic Goddess” baking kit, which we gave to Platbos Forest Reserve’s Melissa Krige as a thank-you and Mothers’ Day gift. http://www.nomu.co.za
Better Earth: for providing us with a range of all-natural dishwashing liquids, which kept our kitchen clean and tidy! http://www.betterearth.co.za/
Dongola House: for sponsoring an incredible composting toilet, and for being a long-term partner of ours. http://www.dongolahouse.co.za/
The Sustainable Brothers: for providing on-site assistance and manpower, and for spreading the word about the event through their networks. https://www.facebook.com/SustainableBrothers
Plastics SA: for sponsoring plastic bags so that fest-goers could bring their trash and recyclables home and keep the forest clean! http://www.plasticsinfo.co.za/
HG Travel: for sponsoring some of the trees we planted over the weekends! http://www.hgtravel.co.za/
Treestar Yoga: for keeping planters limber with several incredible yoga sessions! https://www.facebook.com/treestaryoga
Greenpeace Africa: for an excellent speech on how to get active and involved in environmental issues. http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/
Jungle Theatre: for thrilling our Family Fest attendees with the performance “Vinnie from Zok.” http://jungletheatre.co.za/
Elemental Kids: for entertaining the children at the Family Fest with a series of creative activities! http://www.elementalkids.co.za/
FLOW (For Love of Water): for educating all who attended on the flow of water and biomimicry with two excellent presentations. http://forloveofwater.co.za/
Dr. Philip Sherwin: for his excellent presentation on the cure for diseases.
Hey Brew Coffee: for dedicating the weekend to providing our planters with delicious, energising coffee. http://www.heybrewcoffee.com/
Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour: for bringing a truly tremendous selection of teas and helping to create a beautiful lounge around the fire outside of the forest. http://www.ladybonin.com/
Psychedelic Theatre: for keeping our Friends Fest attendees entertained with LED hula hoop performances and fire dancing! https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Psychedelic-Theatre/105256656239988
Marshall Music: for sponsoring a drum kit that we used as backline for our artists. http://www.marshallmusic.co.za/
F Sharp Music: for running the sound and lighting at the event. http://fsharpmusic.com/