10 years of laughter, community, and impact – Eden Festival of Action
By Marlena Niedl and Jessie Leverzencie
Ten years of action, ten years of laughter, ten years of community. We wrapped up our 10th and final Festival of Action and are feeling nostalgic and reminiscent, whilst also overjoyed and grateful. Dive into our highlights from this year’s Eden Festival of Action, and relive some of our favourite moments with us.
We were truly happy and grateful to host our last Eden FOA at Wild Spirit Lodge in Nature’s Valley, surrounded by the Tsitsikamma National Park, along the Garden Route. It was our third time hosting our Eden Festival of Action at Wild Spirit, and we are always newly overjoyed at the natural beauty of the site and surrounding landscapes.
Khoinania, the name of the land Wild Spirit is on, attributed to the indigenous Khoisan people who once lived there, is a truly wonderful place. Custodians of the land, and owners of Wild Spirit Lodge, Ola Lawrence, and her parents Jenny and Earl Lawrence, have been working on clearing alien vegetation and bringing back the indigenous plants that grew in their Khoinania forest a long time ago.
Our team of volunteers arrived at the site on the 25th September and got to work transforming the space into a festival-ready haven. After many tent setups, decorating with bunting and lighting, stretch tent pitching and endless cups of coffee, the site was ready to welcome our participants, who arrived on Sunday, 2nd October.
The arrival of the participants brought with it much excitement. After a welcome circle and introduction, everyone got the chance to set up their tents and enjoy the beautiful views at Wild Spirit Lodge, all whilst budding new connections began to form. After being given a tour of the land by Ola Lawrence, our eager participants got started with clearing a part of the land from non-indigenous wattles on Monday. Our Forest for Life Manager, Michiel, Hanno from Tree Whisperer SA, and Greenpop’s Urban Greening team, gave a tree planting demonstration in preparation for our planting days, and taught us how to plant a tree the right way. Always remember: quality over quantity – make trees count, don’t count trees!
We got active and helped restore degraded land!
On Wednesday, 5th October, we all loaded into buses for the 1.5 hour trip to Pachamama for our first planting day of the week. With a team of eager volunteers and participants, we planted 1,000 locally indigenous trees – what a day!
After a delicious lunch, Pachamama custodian, Chris Nash, showed us the site and the thriving permaculture projects going on there. The day ended off with a final push to get the last trees in the ground, whilst Streetwise Band brought all the gees with some live music as the sound of spades echoed as the bass.
Although reconnecting to nature is one of the most beautiful things in life, it can be quite a challenge for city folk, so having the right gear and apparel is key. One of our lucky social media followers won a hamper full of useful outdoor equipment from Cape Union Mart in addition to an Eden ticket!
Our second and last planting day took place on the Wild Spirit grounds on Friday 7th October, where we all rallied together to plant another 650 trees! Well done, team! Live music echoed through the planting site, delicious superfood snacks from Soaring Free and Top Fruit’s Pink Lady apples were served and refreshing BOS Tea got us through the last stretch.
With the last trees planted, we all gathered and took a moment to remember Kimon Bisogno, Kiki, a dear friend of Greenpop who passed away recently. The last tree was put in the ground in her honour, by our founders, Misha and Lauren Teasdale. We all gave out a joyful laugh in Kiki’s honour, and paid tribute to the woman who taught us the importance of laughter, joy, being present, and not taking life too seriously.
Deepening our appreciation for the environment
Besides our reforestation projects, Eden participants were given the opportunity to broaden their appreciation for the environment and nature-based topics, during various workshops hosted throughout the week-long festival. From Wild Foraging with Roushanna Gray and her team from Veld and Sea, to a workshop on Natural Beekeeping with Wild Spirit’s very own Ola Lawrence and our Urban Greening Manager, Deon.
“I realise how much I need to keep reconnecting to nature in order to appreciate and embrace what nature provides for me. And that I have a responsibility to reciprocate that.”
– Keneilwe, Participant
Creativity and music are dear to our hearts, which is why jamming sessions throughout the day or around the campfire are always encouraged! “We grow from seeds to trees, me and my people planting love!” These were the lyrics that echoed through the campsite at the Eden FOA, after our Songs for Change workshop with Streetwise Band, Thabani and Zukiswa, and Alice “Allicat” Owens. Additionally, our art lovers were able to participate in wood carving or flower crown making workshops. For our early birds, we had morning yoga, dance, or laughter yoga classes available to help us greet the day.
Another highlight was our range of evening activities. Our movie night showcased a story about surfers tackling plastic pollution in our oceans, followed by delicious cups of Wellness Warehouse hot chocolate and popcorn. During quiz night our participants learned some fun facts about our team, and at the open mic night we heard some amazing stories and listened to beautiful poetry. Selah Joy’s mesmerizing fire dance was another evening highlight which left us captivated.
“I loved the connections that I made with other participants. There was such a wonderful atmosphere throughout the whole experience and I will treasure the memories I made!”
– Kelly, participant
How do you keep a group of 100 Greenpoppers motivated for a full week? Enter our stellar kitchen team, led by Jemma and Josh from Quintessence Foods, who provided us with three plant-based meals a day and the most delicious snacks! The meals Jemma and her team prepared were always a treat to the eyes and taste buds.
We indluged in a DIY burger station from Infinite Foods, delectable Pesto Princess sauces, and Oumph vegan bacon bits and pulled pork. We also enjoyed bread baked with flour from Golden Reef Milling, topped with delicious carrot “salmun” from Herbi Raw. AGT Foods provided us with various kinds of grains and pulses, and Thyme & Again farmstall gave us loaves of bread to satisfy all our peanut butter sarmie needs.
“I’m not vegan but I enjoyed the variety of plant-based treats during Eden a lot since I got to taste so many new things.”
– Philipp, volunteer
As we all know, a cup of coffee is pivotal for kicking the day off, and keeping us happy (and sane). At our Wellness Café sponsored by Wellness Warehouse, our participants could hang out while enjoying cups of Arise Coffee, and various teas, hot chocolate or chai lattes, as well as nut milk from ButtaNutt. Throughout the planting days and workshops, we indulged in superfood snacks!
Of course, our planting days wouldn’t be complete without refreshing tins of BOS ice tea! During our evening programs and campfire sessions, we enjoyed the delicious South African wines provided by Boland Cellar.
Re-use, reduce, and ‘Separate to Recycle’ with PETCO
As for every Greenpop event, limiting waste and recycling as much as possible is one of our main priorities. That is why we are grateful to have had PETCO South Africa on board to teach us all about recycling effectively at our Eden FOA! PETCO sponsored our Recycling Station and Waste Activation Station (aka tinkering station), where participants learnt all about how to upcycle and re-use different materials. Read all about PETCO’s involvement at our Eden FOA in our latest blog post.
All of the toilets on the camping grounds at Wild Spirit were compost toilets. Wild Spirit then uses the compost waste in the forest, so the loop is closed! All hand washing stations and toilet facilities were equipped with zero-waste hand soap bottles from Shop Zero as well as sanitiser, air freshener and other beautiful products provided by Better Earth. And last, but most certainly not least, Paper Chain provided us with their Essential Green toilet paper.
Thank you to our community for co-creating Eden with us!
We are so grateful for the past 10 years of our Festival of Action. From its roots in Zambia, to Wild Spirit Lodge, our hearts are filled with all of the incredible memories made, the connections fostered and the impact we made – together! Thank you for being a part of the journey!
“This festival of action really highlighted how precious life is. How the natural world is so filled with an abundance of beauty and gifts that serve our resilience. How our human actions can serve to be so powerful in supporting the creation of a more beautiful world. We have an infinite number of solutions for solving the many challenges we currently face. The biggest hurdle is to overcome our own cynicism and get into a place of compassion, of action and becoming a catalyst in our own community in making the necessary change happen. The festival of action’s aim was to achieve just this. To build community, to provide tools and to bring hope to those eager to take this journey forward.”
– Greenpop Co-Founder and TREE-E-O, Misha Teasdale.
Missed out on Eden, but keen to attend another one of our events? Join us at Reforest Fest, which takes place from 7 – 10 April, 2023 at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat.
Don’t forget to take some memories with you
We have some beautiful photos from the event, which you can find here.
Be sure to add any memories you’d like to share in the attendees share album.
And lastly, a big thanks to WESGRO for supporting the event as a destination partner once again.
Impact In Person: The Value of Food Gardening in Low-Income Communities, with Jessica Kannemeyer
The community members from Christel House South Africa are an inspiring testament to the impact food gardening has.
Impact In Person: Creating a home away from home with Tanya van Graan
Greenpop’s Fynbos for the Future programme aims to activate change on the ground in local schools. Principal, Tanya van Graan shares more.
Treading Lightly and Learning to ‘Separate to Recycle’, with PETCO
PETCO taught us all about effective recycling, up-cycling, and separating organic waste from recyclables at our Eden FOA.
Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.