Greenpop Festival of Action 2018

With over 4,000 trees planted, and 265 participants and volunteers getting their hands dirty, our first Festival of Action on South African soil recently wrapped up with an explosive celebratory music evening. Here’s a look at what we got up to in the Eden District.

The last three weeks have seen our inaugural Eden Festival of Action launching in the Garden Route: an endeavour which has culminated as a roaring success, with hundreds of active citizens from all over the world taking part.

Operating from the welcoming home base at Peace of Eden Vegan and Eco Lodge in Rheenendal, the festival’s sites spread throughout the surrounding areas ranging from Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Sedgefield to Touwsranten, which were impacted by the devastating wildfires of June 2017.

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The first 2 weeks of the programme were geared towards high schools students, and saw 85 and 75 students respectively joining us each week from schools across the country, while the third week hosted an all-ages programme. Bitou Municipality and Garden Route Rebuild Initiative both sponsored scholarships, which enabled 33 local students to attend the festival.

Our main goal was to cultivate community connections and initiate mass positive environmental impact in the region through reforestation, collaborative art, workshops in eco-education, permaculture, and much more. Our production set-up began a week before opening, and with Build it Knysna generously providing tools and materials, we were set!

Collectively, we cleared 5,500m² of alien vegetation at Goukamma Nature Reserve over three days, and planted a total of 4,303 indigenous trees of more than 20 species during the festival. Of these trees, our reforestation efforts saw 500 planted at Phantom Forest Reserve, 1,680 at the Hearland School of Self-Sufficiency and 1,600 at Featherbed Nature Reserve near Knysna.

We also planted at eight urban sites, using more established trees to create windbreaks and buffer zones. With 400 trees planted at Raphaeli Waldorf School in Plettenberg Bay, 22 at Conville Primary School in George, 10 at Eyethu Educare in Knysna, and 11 at Touwsranten Park. In addition, 100 trees were planted on location at Peace of Eden.

Three collaborative environmental murals were painted, headed up by University of Stellenbosch art lecturer Mieke van der Merwe and local Knysna artist Artwell Musungate, which saw a total of 55 of urban space painted. The mural locations included Masizame Child and Youth Centre in Kwanokuthula, Knysna’s town hall and Touwsranten.

The environmental art initiative also involved various local child-care organisations and projects, bringing disadvantaged youth into a space to help beautify and connect with their community through working with Masizame Child & Youth Centre, Mad About Art, and Seven Passes Initiative. We planted trees at each site, as well as installed 3 benches, sponsored by Timber Village.

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Striving to be a minimal-waste festival, all waste on site was recycled, composted or eco-bricked, saving over 53 bags of waste from going to local landfills. All toilets on site at Peace of Eden were operated on a composting toilet system provided by Timber Village, and showers on a natural greywater collection system, also drastically reducing the festival’s water consumption footprint.

In addition, the entire programme was catered for with delicious plant-based meals and snacks, serving no dairy, egg, meat or animal products, cooked lovingly by Jen Harvey B and rest of  the Peace of Eden kitchen team, and generously sponsored by our various partners and sponsors, including Food Lover’s Market Knysna, in line with their firm sustainability ethos.

Over 370 Eco-bricks were made during the festival – a project which was headed up by Ian Dommisse, from Eco-brick Exchange, who pioneered Ecobricking in South Africa. This project was an aspect which also involved local child-care initiatives and educating participants and locals on the importance of eliminating single-use plastics.

Three amazing beach clean-ups took place between Sedgefield and Buffalo Bay, in partnership with Beach Co-Op, and Secret Sunrise, who facilitated a silent dance party at the final clean-up. These clean-ups served to aid in the collection of plastic pollution on local beaches, as well as raising awareness for the issue amongst festival attendees and community members.

Various workshops were hosted throughout the festival, including Introductions to: Permaculture by Skye & Philippa Mallac, Biomimicryby Sue Swain, Beekeeping at Hope for the Honeybees, Camera Trapswith Landmark Foundation, Natural Building, Eco Enterprise, Mycology Cultivation, Mindfulness,  Forest Ecology, and a Guitar workshop with local legend Tony Cox.

Our music programme culminated in an original track recorded by Howard Butcher at the renowned Peace of Eden Studio. Spearheaded by Paulo Costa, the track was co-created by various musicians who took part in the festival, including Jeremy Loops, The Steezies, Crosscurrent, Perfect Shadows and many participants and team members. The final track and music video will be released soon.

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Carla Wessels

Carla Wessels

Author - Head of Events Greenpop

Juliette Bisset

Juliette Bisset


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