Greenpop's Eden Festival of Action

The Greenpop Eden Festival of Action was a three week event intended to inspire people to get active for their environment through a selection of hands on engaging educational and practical experiences in regeneration.

In June 2017, much of the Garden Route of South Africa was devastated by the largest wild fires in over a hundred years. The fires, spurred by hot berg winds, extra dry conditions and  fueled by tens of thousands of hectares of invasive trees left 600 people without homes and cost around R136 million in infrastructure damage.

In an attempt to add some positive energy and practical benefit to the region following this disaster, Greenpop decided to move their annual Festival of Action from Livingstone, Zambia to the Garden Route for 2018.

The intention behind the Festival was to create opportunities for members of the public to get involved in  environmental regeneration, awareness building and active citizenship through a wide variety of hands on, impact focused experiences. Six Kingdoms was brought in to develop and facilitate the program for the event.

One of the 3 groups that contributed to clearing approximately 5500m2 of invasive Rooikrans and Port Jackson from the Goukamma Nature Reserve

The festival was composed of three distinct weeks- the first two weeks of the program were dedicated  to High School students, and the last week was open to all ages. Each week, participants arrived, moved into our campsite and were guided through a wide variety of different engaging practical and informative workshops and events. It’s an incredible opportunity for people of all ages to come together over common interests, share ideas, empower one another and get active for their environment.

The event had a lot of moving parts and different elements, all focused around regeneration, environmental activism, leadership and fun. Every week we ran permaculture, mycology, biomimicry and eco brick building workshops along with several reforestation planting events per week, a mural painting project, alien invasive species clearing missions and a variety of evening activities including speaker night, talent shows and documentary screenings.

In total we planted 4303 trees at 11 different sites (a combination of urban and reforestation planting), painted 3 large environmental murals, and ran more than 15 different workshops over the 3 weeks.

The preparation for the event took about 3 months and included connecting with a lot of different local organisations that are already doing great work in the garden route area. It was amazing to be able to add value to the work they are already doing during the festival and really rewarding to create some new relationships in the area.

Youth getting hands on with tree planting at Featherbed Nature Reserve

Some of the projects and people we worked with are listed below:

  • Greenpop– Greenpop were the originators and enablers of this entire project, and the work of the dedicated Greenpop team in making it happen is massively inspiring and amazing.
  • Biowise– A biomimicry focussed organisation lead by Sue Swain that is working on a host of interesting biomimicry projects in the Knysna area. Sue facilitated some fascinating biomimicry workshops for our participants.
  • Eco atlas– A directory for environmental businesses and organisations and a catalyst for Plettenberg bay based environmental projects, lead by Rhian Berning
  • Natures Valley Trust– A community led NPO that works in integrated conservation in the Plettenberg bay area, with a focus on conservation, education, community and research.
  • Heartlands School of Self Sufficiency– A permaculture farm and small school focussed on practical education, natural building and permaculture techniques
  • The Seven Passes Initiative– A youth focussed NPO in Touwsranten area that focusses on violence prevention and youth empowerment
  • Madaboutart– An HIV/AIDS awareness group that focusses on educating young people about health issues using art and creativity as the means to spread awareness and promote skills development at the same time.
  • Landmark Foundation– A group that works towards building the conservation economy by running projects and research and raising awareness about conservation issues in general, with a focus on human/animal conflict and landscape management
  • Hope for the honeybees– A Knysna based project rescuing and maintaining local honey bee populations after the Knysna fires
  • The Beach Co-Operative- Formed in 2015, the Beach Co-operative runs beach clean ups and does research and advocacy work on plastic pollution around Cape Town
  • The Eco Brick Exchange– An environmental awareness enterprise that teaches about eco-bricks and their potential to divert plastic waste into useful structures.

    Zaynab and Lazola sharing knowledge on eco-bricks and upcycling

A massive thank you to all the partners and collaborators in making this epic project happen- We’re really looking forward to making next year’s event even bigger and better.

Also a very special thank you to the program team that worked so hard on facilitating so many different groups and missions- We are so grateful to have worked with you in co-creating such an amazing and inspiring event- The ripples created during the festival are sure to remain with our participants and team for a long time to come.

For more information about the festival overall, to pre-register for next year, or to find out more about Greenpop and the epic work they do, check out the links below:

Phillipa Mallac guiding participants through forest ecosystems as part of a permaculture introduction course
Part of the 1750 trees planted at Heartlands School of Self Sufficiency beneath a burnt out gum forest
Finishing touches on a mural at Touwsranten workshopped and co-created with the local children to create a beautiful and inspiring space at the taxi rank
Planting indigenous trees on the western head of the Knysna Lagoon at Featherbed Nature Reserve in an effort to accelerate restoration of burnt indigenous trees
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