The Airport road in Plettenberg Bay was a hive of activity this week. In stark contrast to the manic activity during last year’s fires, this time the action was much more relaxed, involving hoes, picks and spades as high school children from around the country came together with local school children and the broader community to plant hundreds of trees.
The planting day held at Olive Hill, soon to be the new home of Raphaeli Waldorf School, formed part of Greenpop’s Eden Festival of Action, during which the organisation, along with all the volunteer students, will plant thousands of trees to regreen the Garden Route after the devastation of the 2017 firestorms. Other activities of the festival include alien clearing, mural painting and eco building practices.
The site was chosen because it was a burnt property that lost all the shelter and windbreak of trees, all of which were alien species, and so indigenous trees were chosen to create a nurturing, beautiful and biodiverse forest line for generations of children to come. Raphaeli Waldorf School will take on the care and guardianship of these trees as part of their mandate to develop an environmentally exemplar school, while at the same time servicing the local community as an inclusive place of learning.
It is certainly very ambitious to plant 300 trees in a morning with participants ranging in age from 2 to 20, but what was more powerful than seeing all those trees in the ground by lunchtime was how good it felt to come together for a common goal and how much can be achieved when we add all our small actions together for the greater good. Yes, the trees planted will bring the birds, bees and butterflies back to the area and provide the oxygen we all breathe and what could be more important than that, but for everyone who was there a seed was also sown, the sense of how our small positive actions added together can achieve great things.
Working on Fire were there in full force and this time their bright yellow truck was not used for dousing flames but for watering freshly planted trees. The GvH Landscape team added their muscle power and expertise to the mass tree planting and refreshments were provided by Le Fournil and AquaV. Of course, the Greenpop team made it all happen with verve and fun.
Greenpop’s Eden Festival of Action is now fully under way and there are a couple of open volunteer days and sustainability workshops they will be holding for locals who are keen to get their hands dirty and involved. There are two core tree planting sites: Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna (6 and 13 July) and Heartland School of Self Sufficiency in Elandskraal (4 and 11 July). We will be planting almost 1000 trees at each site. Two workshops, An Introduction of Biomimicry by Sue Swain, and An Introduction to Permaculture by Philippa Mallac, will also be held at Peace of Eden on the 12th of July and the public are welcome to join for a day of eco-education.
Find out about planting days that you can still join at the Eden Festival of Action. www.festivalofaction.com
CAPTION: Plettenberg Bay locals get stuck in, planting shelter belts, windbreaks and a forest glade at the new Raphaeli Waldorf School site