Greenpop - Reforest Festival

The festival I never knew I needed until I experienced it.

Greenpop - Reforest Festival

2019-05-02

What can I say and where do I even begin? Wow… just a big fat WOW.

This was a festival that I never knew I needed in my life until I attended it. Something so different and so beautiful it’s difficult to articulate but i'm going to try my best!

Infant trees we planted in Platbos
Reforest Fest is a tree planting festival hosted by Greenpop, a non-profit organisation whose goal is protecting and restoring ecosystems across Sub-Saharan Africa. Greenpop hosts various festivals throughout the year bringing like minded individuals together to plant trees, dance and spread a little love to each other and our planet.

Reforest Fest GreenpopPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

My partner and I decided to try something different and attend Greenpop’s Reforest Festival. Upon arrival you choose a color string which defines your planting team for the weekend.  We chose orange along with our friends.Stings to define your planting teamPhoto cred: Melite Vivier

After setting up camp in the firebreak we began to explore.

Campsite in the firebreakPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

The venue was set up beautifully in selected pockets along the edge of the forest, with food stalls, main stage, bonfires and spaces for workshops and talks. The environmental workshops on offer varied from basket weaving to talks on medicinal plants. There was even a little section where you could weave crowns with local fynbos.Weaving flower crownsPhoto cred: Melite Vivier Weaving flower crownsPhoto cred: Melite Vivier

The Friday night was really chilled, there was some music playing from the main stage but mostly everyone was gathered around the bonfires, chatting, playing instruments, stargazing  and connecting. We had a fairly early night to conserve energy for the next days planting.

Bonfire happenings
Photo cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

Saturday morning we all congregated at the main stage at 9am. After a little dance warm up and some motivation from the Greenpop team we were ready to split into teams with a collective goal of planting 7000 trees. The charismatic team leaders led us through the forest to our planting sites.Getting ready for the day aheadPhoto cred: Ashleigh De VilliersSplitting into teamsPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

The platbos forest is one of the few remaining indiginous forests in South Africa. There is something incredibly special about this forest, as you walk through its winding pathways and feel the shade of the thousand year old trees touch your skin, something inside of you shifts. The magic of its scattered light and chatting birds enchants and inspires everyone who has the privilege of experiencing its energy. This is when it fully hit me that we were about to  participate in something so much bigger than ourselves.

Grandfather tree with old mans beardPhoto cred: Melite Vivier
Milkwood treePhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

Once we reached our planting site, we began clearing the ground of grass and roots where possible, while saving small insects, indigious baby trees and shrubs, to prepare the soil. After a short demonstration from our awesome team leaders on the best way to plant the trees so they will survive, we split into groups; diggers, mulchers and planters.Mulchers using some musclePhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers Diggers preparing the ground
Photo cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

We worked together like a fine oiled machine and before we knew it, our orange family had planted around 800 trees before lunchtime. The infant trees were all seedlings from the older trees in the forest, grandchildren and great grandchildren (or should I say grandseedlings?) were being planted back in their home and going back to their roots so to speak.Planters doing their thingPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

The team leaders kept the vibe and team morale going with war cries, snacks, water refills and drumming. No matter how hot it got, people were smiling and helping each other get just one more tree in the ground.Drumming to keep the vibe goingPhoto cred: Angela Sharp

By the end of the day all the teams had planted 7500 trees in one day!Teams reached their goal of planting 7500 treesPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

With dirty fingernails and a slight sunburn, we danced the night away while listening to some pretty awesome local bands like The Steezys, Grassy Spark and more! Everywhere I looked people were smiling and laughing.The Steezys BandPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

If you would like to get involved in the next Greenpop Festival, Eden Festival Of Action is taking place from 7-14 July at Wild Spirit Lodge in the heart of the Garden Route. 7 days  bringing a global community together to learn, connect, give back and get active. What are you waiting for? We even have an essential road trip playlist ready for this exact occasion! Thanks to Misha the legend for putting together such an amazing initiative.

Misha from Greenpop spinning the decksPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

I know that I may never be able to sit in the shade of the trees we planted that weekend, but my hope is that one day someone will walk through the forests winding pathways, feel the shade from the branches touch their skin, hear the birds chatting, soak in the magic of the trees scattered light and feel the same way I did that day.

Infant trees in the groundPhoto cred: Ashleigh De Villiers

If you love festivals as much as we do here at Once Travel, keep an eye out for our festival packages throughout the year. Our next big festival coming up is Bushfire festival in Swaziland, you can read about last years festival here. Our Rocking The Daisies package will be launched soon, you can read more about what to expect here. If you are visiting South Africa over New Years you can join our Joburg crew for Afropunk 2019.

We dont just do packages at Once Travel, we also sell festival tickets and adventures so give us a shout if you need any more information on the festivals mentioned in this blog or if you just want to chat to someone friendly about your upcoming visit to South Africa.

Me enjoying the festival

Until next time, happy travels.