By: Louis Raubenheimer
Confucius once said that “If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.” Now one could argue that the great Chinese philosopher was selling tree planting a little short, but the gist of the argument is pretty sound. And so one could deduce that he would’ve been pretty enamoured with with tree-advocacy powerhouse, Greenpop, and particularly the Reforest Family Festival.
For the past eight years Misha Teasdale and his wife Lauren, Greenpop’s custodians and fearless leaders in chief, have been organising the annual replant of the ancient indigenous forest, which has been shrinking for the past five million years. First as a result of the success of fynbos, which thrived, particularly after veld fires (which were devastating for the forest). And later colonisation and deforestation to make room for agricultural plains.
Well this past weekend, for the first time in the (roundabout) five million years the Platbos Forest near Franskraal was actually expanded. This is because previous Reforest Festivals have primarily busied themselves patching up some damaged parts of the forest.
It was a glorious occasion, with hundreds of kids and their accompanying adults getting delightfully dusted in the dirt. In all around 3 000 trees were planted, all of them individually seeded from the trees indigenous to the natural forest. The experience offered was a heedy mix of education and a feeling of accomplishing, with at least a semblance of atoning for our own carbon footprints.
Furthermore, the weekend included performances by musicians, puppeteers and actors. There was tree planting, waste-management demonstrations and all manner of talks dealing with ecology, environmental impact and waste reduction. In fact Reforest Fest is a zero waste zone, meaning there are no bins, you are requested to use your own cups and bowls at vendors and every bit of plastic (and other) waste that you create is either recycled, reused, composted or turned into pig feed – they really do eat just about anything.
Amongst the vendors and food trucks (of which Happy Earth People were one) there was not a single piece of meat on offer. The food offerings, almost without exception, were all sustainable, healthy and environmentally conscious. Numerous punters who we spoke to were also amazed at the wonderful variety that was on offer in spite of the fact that no animal flesh was on offer. It’s amazing to see how perceptions gradually change in these types of spaces. The great hope is that people take their newfound philosophies home with them and help to educate others on the importance of sustainability.
A very special mention has to go to the wonderful trees in the forest. Particularly the splendor of the eight hundred-year-old climbing tree at the fire pit in the forest clearing used for many of the stalls. And also the thousand–year-old grandma milkwood in the forest. One of the most majestic and magical sights anyone will ever see.
An absolutely wonderful festival, in a beautiful, magical place where young and old hearts come together in the spirit of education and ecology combusting in a dusty cacophony of appreciation, love and the will to live better. It really is something special.
Visit Eco-Friendly Africa Travel for more on Platbos forest.
This coming weekend sees the Friends Fest gathering. If you are able to attend we’d highly recommend that you do…
Oh, and this writer also learnt how to hoola-hoop for the first time in his life. It took a truckload of focus, concentration and putting any sense of embarrassment well aside, and it was bloody glorious!
Can’t wait till next year, we’ll be coming in with even more troops…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR