United Colours of Africa
Greenpop South Africa planting trees
"I think dancing brings joy. It loosens us up and connects us with our bodies and our friends. These connections bring joy and it is meaningful joy that can change the world. I think that conscious dancing is a powerful tool for connecting with ourselves and others - and reconnection is very powerful. "Lauren O'Donnel Greenpop
Where is the nursery?
The nursery is in Woodstock on Mountain Road and it is the eco education hub. In terms of the urban greening programme it is the place where we keep our trees until they are ready to plant. We buy trees in bulk and then we will plant trees 20 or 30 at a school every week. It is a storage nursery and a place where we can grow the trees a bit bigger and look after the trees once they are planted. And we also have lots of vegetables there and we are trying to turn it into an eco-education hub which is a place where we can in the future run workshops and bring people together and learn about urban farming and urban agriculture.
What was the first festival you did?
We started with Arbor day 2010 and our urban greening programme planting trees on the Cape Flats and our first festival we did was called the Platbos Reforest Fest in 2011 and that was in Platbos forest and that was bringing a whole lot of people together to reforest the Southern most indigenous forest in Africa. There is two weekends. One weekend is a family fest with about 300 people and one weekend is a friends fest with about 500 people.
In the beginning of Greenpop we got a call from a man who wanted to give us advice. He was Francois Krige who invited us to visit Platbos. Misha and I went up to Platbos for a night away and we saw the forest and met Francoise and Melissa who are the custodians of the forest and we brain stormed with them that we could help them plant trees. They already had a tree planting project there but we had connections to more people so we thought we could create a festival. And that is how we started.
What about Hogsback?
We have known Shane who runs Terra Khaya for a long time. He used to have a catoring company that donated sandwhiches to all our volunteers every day. We have known him for a long time. And when he closed his catering company and moved to Hogsback to build an eco-lodge, we always had an idea to partner up and plant trees there because we knew about the yellowood Cape Parrot challenges there. When his eco lodge was up and running we set up the partnership to plant trees there. We started in 2014.
Terra Khaya runs the event and Greenpop the tree planting. It is a weekend where everyone stays or camps at Terra Khaya. There is music and the whole day on Saturday we plant approximately 2000 trees in an incredible setting and we have a music festival in the evening. And the Sunday is similar to Platbos and is a day of activities and activations. Things like sustainability related things. The capacity is about 300. It is not something that can grow to big because of the space and the control of the planting of the trees. It is growing slightly.
Shane lives there and has various volunteers who work there and they continue slowly with a little bit of planting in the right season and they also do tree maintenance and checking and monitoring and a little bit of planting depending on where it is needed.
We plant in a nature reserve near Terra Khaya on the hill with a view of the Hogsback Mountains. The waterfall is further down the valley. It is very close and very beautiful. Hogsback is a very special place, it is kind of enchanted.
Planting by the waterfall in Zambia?
We don't plant a lot of trees in Vic falls national park anymore. We have planted quite a few trees there already. Some of them have done really well and some of them haven't. We do still plant trees there but fewer because it is manageable. It is a maintained national park, but it does seem to be a tricky place, one reason is because of the baboons. So if we do plant trees there we plant them with cages on top of them so the baboons can't dig them up and eat them. We do plant trees there but it is more of a ceremonial thing. We have got to plant them in a very specific area where there is access to the water and all of that. It is an unbeilavable experience to plant a tree at the falls, you can't really match that. It is necessary to plant more trees there just to keep the biodiversity up and keep the national park in order. It is a big national park area and in one of the areas there was a tricky situation with access to a water point but mainly the problem is the baboons; which has now been solved with the good caging and planting trees where there is clear access to a water plant.
We set up a partnership with the Udzungwe Forest Reserve and they are managed by the University of York in the UK. The University has a small-scale reforestation project where there are local people on the ground who are planting trees and growing trees in the nursery, and when we were there we realised we could support this project, so we have paid the salary of a nursery manager for a year so we can support the planting of the trees in Tanzania. We have yet to get any results. We were meant to get more reporting from them, but it is very new.
We have got ideas to grow, it depends on a few different things. We would like to continue planting trees in our current programmes, there is still lots of need and space for planting in the Platbos area. There is still a need for urban greening. There is still lots of need for environmental education. We get approached weekly by other reforestation and tree planting projects around Southern Africa that want to partner with us and get support. The goal is to be able to support smaller scale grassroots projects because we have a central city hub where we can fund raise from and we can outsource the fund raising to smaller grassroots planting projects. And we wouldn't be able to do it all ourselves with good vetting and good monitoring and good educational support. We are keeping a database of projects for now. We want to focus on what we are doing currently right and streamlined and then we will see if we can support any other projects.
Music festivals ?
If we can go to a music festival it ticks a few boxes. We can create a small green part to the festival, like at Rocking the Daisies we do the green village where people can come and learn about the greening elements of how festivals could go green. I think it is a big challenge to get a whole festival to go green and one day we would like to get there, but I feel that our role is an educational role at these festivals. There is lots of people there that we can reach through a small touch point in education. We can also create awareness for the other work that we do. And it is not only us at these festivals, we bring in many other partner NGO's and green organisations and showcase what is going on in the area. It is a showcase of what people can get involved in and brings greening into the popular space, so it is not seen as a fringe environmental movement but rather as a normal popular thing that everyone sees everywhere. It is an important awareness tactic.
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