Hogsback Reforest Fest Success!

Hogsback Reforest Fest Success!


“The Hogsback Reforest Fest was a huge success. 250 people gathered to plant 2400 trees and dance the night away at one of the most beautiful sites in the country – Terra-Khaya Eco and Family Lodge. Greenpop is so grateful to everyone who helped make this happen. It was our first time working in the Eastern Cape and we hope to expand on the concept with local partners and to create ongoing impact in Hogsback and the surrounding areas in years to come.”
Lauren O’Donnell
Greenpop Managing Director


The Greenpop Hogsback Reforest Fest on 12-14 September was the first-ever Reforest Fest in the Eastern Cape! Terra-Khaya Family and Eco Lodge and Reliance Compost partnered with Greenpop to make this project a reality.


The weekend-long Reforest Fest saw 2400 trees planted by a group of 250 enthusiastic people, gathered together to take action as part of the long-term process to combat two centuries of deforestation damage.


In addition to the tree-planting, the Hogsback Reforest Fest included a whole host of fun and stimulating eco-activities, educational workshops, walks and talks and, of course, some awesome live music. The festivities all took place at Terra-Khaya Eco and Family Lodge, run by Shane Eades. “Hosting the Reforest Fest at Terra-Khaya was a huge honour and privilege… the best part about it was that every person who attended came with an amazing conscious energy, filled with love, passion and an innate care for our Earth Mother,” said Eades. The Reforest Fest began on Friday afternoon, with relaxed, unplugged live music by Whiskey Business and Hanna Cottrell, amongst others. This got everyone into the swing of things as a group, before an early night to rest up for the big tree-planting day ahead.

Early on Saturday morning, Ola Lawrence from Wild Spirit Backpackers led a revitalising stretch session, before the group gathered for a minute of silence to reflect and focus on the tree-planting, amidst all the excitement. And at 9am, everyone set to work to do what Greenpop does best - plant trees, and have fun doing it!


In an effort to work on the invasion of black wattle alien species that have severely affected the area and its water systems, we planted wild olive, cape ash, Outeniqua yellowwood, real yellowwood, pompom trees, white stinkwood and more – there were 17 indigenous species in total. “By managing the invasive trees in the area over time, and bolstering the indigenous populations of trees, the festival aimed to take the first step in a long term process of mitigating the damage caused by invasive species,” explains Matthew Koehorst, Head of Planting and Sustainability at Greenpop. “We are restoring the planting sites and catchment one tree at a time.” The indigenous trees planted serve as a habitat and food source to the severely endangered Cape Parrot. “This will hopefully assist in the restoration of the tributaries in the area that provide habitats for other endangered species including the Amatola Toad and other freshwater species,” says Matthew. By removing the water-thirsty and dominant black wattle trees, and replacing them with indigenous trees, the event will also positively affect the water table, biodiversity and nutrient profile of the area.


As important as the ecology of the land, are the connections with people. The Hogsback Reforest Fest saw over 250 people get together to participate in high-impact, collective action. “There is something very powerful about feeling part of a greater whole, of experiencing a group consciousness and actively using your hands to see the difference you can make,” says Rhian Berning, founder of Eco Atlas, who attended the Reforest Fest with her children.


People of all ages came together to plant at the Reforest Fest. “There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a freshly planted tree, with the sense of time and hope stretching into the future that brings. Especially when you are planting with your children and envision them as young adults visiting the forest they helped to plant. Goosebumps,” Rhian says. The impact possible through collective action is something that a number of our partners and guests took away from the weekend.

On Saturday evening, in celebration of planting 2400 trees, Greenpop presented a spectacular line-up of South African artists. Eastern Cape locals Ends and the Ocean, the Cottonfields and Wordsuntame outdid themselves, as did Danielle Zinn and Black South Easter. DJs cRIPz and Krunken smoothed out the evening’s musical festivities and the party was thoroughly enjoyed by performers and audience alike. “The Greenpop Reforest fest was absolutely life-changing,” said Johannesburg-based artist Danielle Zinn. “A combination of celebration and restoration, Greenpop provided a beautiful opportunity… I can’t wait for the next one!”


Throughout the event, John du Plessis prepared delicious, wholesome vegetarian meals for the Reforest Fest, keeping everyone well-fuelled and well-fed over a busy weekend. “What I love about being at GreenPop Reforest Fests are the interactions and the support I feel from all the amazing people I meet there,” says Tony Budden, owner of Hemporium South Africa and activist for the commercial production of hemp. “These are people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones to make a difference, and show they care - something that is all too rare in today’s world, but a movement that is definitely growing (pun intended),” Budden says.


Sunday was packed full of interesting talks by experts in their fields, with Susan Botha presenting a talk on how to grow your own food and Rhian Berning speaking about taking the action forward in our own lives by making conscious consumer choices, based on her experience running Eco Atlas, an online directory for ethical products in South Africa. Shane Eades, owner of Terra-Khaya Family and Eco-Lodge, shared some of his first-hand insight into eco-living. The Fairy Godmother team presented a talk on the concept of “Flow” and Sam Chevalier explained the fascinating theory behind what is known as “Biomimmicry”, whereby as humans we might mimic our structures based on impressive structures found in nature. Tony Budden shared a riveting talk about his efforts in advocating the commercial farming of hemp and his company Hemporium South Africa. Speaking about his own experience, Budden said, “Hogsback left me feeling empowered, inspired and alive, through the experience of seeing a young forest where a day before there was none, and knowing that the impact would be felt for years to come.”


A market ran throughout the day and local marketeers from Hogsback brought their delicious goods and gifts to set up at the Reforest Fest for people to browse and enjoy. GEM (Going the Extra Mile) had a stall as well to showcase the launch of their mobile rewards system for travellers and volunteers that go the extra mile. Everyone in attendance at the event was encouraged to register for GEM and received 100 GEMS to be exchanged for R100 airtime or data. Faithful to Nature also very kindly offered everyone in attendance a R50 discount voucher to their amazing online shopping platform for environmentally-sound products.


Greenpeace Africa also had a presence at the Reforest Fest with a stall at the market and a team on the ground. Dylan Brasby of Greenpeace Africa had this to say about the experience, “The highlight was to be surrounded by people who are the example, who take responsibility. More of that please. It’s the inspirational factor for me. I’m signing up for the next Reforest Fest; I want more of that Fun-Positive-Impact-in-Beautiful-Spaces experience and I know I’ll carry this enthusiasm into any other environmental initiatives I’ll be involved with in future.”


Festival-goers also enjoyed yoga in the forest and exploring the magical beauty of the Hogsback area, with its many waterfalls and special, beautiful places. Mieke Van Blommestein, Marketing Manager for Reliance Compost (the key sponsor for the festival), came along with the Reliance team to get her hands dirty and summed up the experience beautifully, saying, “The best part about the Reforest Fest, was to see how 250 volunteers, all with a great love for mother earth, took hands in the majestic Hogsback forest towards environmental change.'


Greenpop will definitely be continuing work in the Eastern Cape and the organization hopes to contribute to the ecology of the area. Says Misha Teasdale, Tree-E-O of Greenpop, “The overwhelming response from the Eastern Cape community in getting active around eco-system rehabilitation has been an inspiration. I'm very excited for our next event in Hogsback and hopefully further afield in the Eastern Cape.”


About Greenpop:

Greenpop is on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet. We plant trees and have fun doing it. Greenpop plants trees in urban greening and reforestation projects and hosts green events, educational workshops, and festivals of action to inspire people to get active about a sustainable future.


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