During Greenpop’s first Eden Festival of Action over 4,000 trees were planted by 265 participants and volunteers. Operating from 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.
Bitou Municipality and Garden Route Rebuild Initiative both sponsored scholarships for students to join the schools programme as part of the festival, while Build It Knysna generously providing tools and materials. The main goal was to cultivate community connections and initiate mass positive environmental impact in the region through various means including: reforestation, collaborative art, workshops in eco-education, and permaculture. Collectively, 5,500m² of alien vegetation were cleared at Goukamma Nature Reserve over three days, and a total of 4,303 indigenous trees of more than 20 species were planted during the festival. Of these trees, the reforestation efforts saw 500 planted at Phantom Forest Reserve, 1,680 at the Heartland School of Self-Sufficiency and 1,600 at Featherbed Nature Reserve near Knysna.
Trees were also planted at eight urban sites 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 55m² 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. Trees were planted at each site, and 3 benches sponsored by Timber Village were installed.
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, Biomimicry by Sue Swain, Beekeeping at Hope for the Honeybees, Camera Traps with Landmark Foundation, Natural Building, Eco-Enterprise, Mycology Cultivation, Mindfulness, Forest Ecology, and a Guitar workshop with local legend Tony Cox.
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