Reforest Fest 2023 – Celebrating the Age of Restoration

03

MAY, 2023

By Lizzy Erwee & Jessie Leverzencie

Reforest Fest 2023 has come to a close, and it was by far our best Reforest Fest yet! Over the Easter weekend, 1000 festival-goers gathered at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat, to get active for the future of our planet. We planted 5001 trees, participated in a variety of engaging workshops, talks, activities, enjoyed great music and food, and celebrated the age of restoration with family and friends.

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Thulani Swartbooi

Tall trees and dense undergrowth encircled a haven of what was to be home to 1000 passionate tree planters over. With greenery spanning the distance in the Platbos Forest Reserve and neighbouring Grootbos Forest, ripe scents of damp soil and leaves, hidden creatures and a peaceful spirit, lay the tranquil scene of Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat. A special space, traditionally used to encompass both nature and human healing, radiated a sense of calm, love and elation. A big thanks to Bodhi Khaya for hosting us and sharing our vision to restore land for the betterment of our planet. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Jessie Leverzencie

Treading lightly at Reforest Fest

At each festival, we aim to tread as lightly as possible and keep our Zero Waste mission at the core of the work we do. Our waste activation station, sponsored by PETCO and managed by Compost Cyclers, taught guests all about reducing their landfill waste. The ablution and bathroom facilities, including compost toilets and outdoor showers, were equipped with Essential Green eco-friendly toilet paper, Better Earth biodegradable cleaning supplies and soaps and body washes from Hemporium

Photographers: Michael O’Kennedy, Jessie Leverzencie, Lizzy Erwee, Christian Khayo

Buildit Gansbaai supported our festival build and beautiful bell tents were erected allowing guests to glamp in style over the weekend. The tents, stalls, flags, decorations, fairy lights, boards and stations simultaneously came together in a way that co-existed with its surroundings, highlighting the natural beauty.

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Jessie Leverzencie

In a few short days, we established a breathtaking space where our Reforest Fest community would learn and connect. With great effort, tireless planning and months of preparation, it all came to fruition – Reforest Fest 2023 was here!

Even the rain couldn’t dampen the good vibes

Reforest Fest festival-goers came flooding in from midday as the gates opened, while others were dropped off on the shuttle service provided by Nomad Africa Tours & Safaris

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Misha Teasdale

The weather forecast promised rain, but despite the gloomy onset of grey clouds and midday showers, festival-goers came in with smiles and warm hugs. Huddling around the bonfire or under tented cover, drinking delightful teas and hot chocolate courtesy of Wellness Warehouse at the Wellness Cafe, the festival soon started to bustle with life. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Skyla Haley

Ayala Katz and her team from the Peace Tree Pilgrimage walked from Genadendal to Reforest Fest and Wilan Spangenberg ran 466km to the festival!

The most intense and incredible journey of self-exploration, pushing my body physically while spending hours with myself in my head, it also helped a lot that I was raising money for the Greenpop Foundation for tree planting with every step of the 466km. I am forever grateful and changed by this experience.” – Wilan Spangenberg

A massive thank you for these amazing efforts, we are so inspired!

By mid afternoon the Sealand Corridor to the Coast cycling group arrived, who cycled from Greyton to Reforest Fest! Their elated smiles and group hug a true testament to the community and bonds formed along the way.

Workshops spanned from large-scale embroidery with talented artist Danielle Clough, to a herbalism workshop with Roxanne Joubert. Vinyasa Flow Yoga with Donna Shefer set the good energy for the days to follow and the Hemp Stage by Hemporium, and The Pole Yard  reverberated continuous music and movement on the dancefloor with unique, diverse sounds of local and international musicians. 

Photographers: Shari Lee Thompson, Christian Khayo, Jessie Leverzencie

Our team were also joined by a group of 35 students from the UK join the event as part of a broader 2-week tour ran by Greenpop, which focussed on teaching them about different aspects of land management.

With a wide range of food stalls, from freshly made pizza to sweet cinnamon pancakes and warm Gluhwein for the evenings, everyone had the chance to fill their bellies in the cold with something to warm and delectable. People eased into new surroundings of friendly faces, greetings, and short backstories, quickly becoming acquainted and feeling at home.

Planting 5001 trees with colourfully decorated spades

The big day had arrived, the anchor that brought in people from all over, planting day! Dressed in their team colours, our tree planters had a wakeup and shakeup session with GLOW’s Gabriela Charlotte, sparking energy that travelled right into their fingertips and down to their toes. 

This year, we collaborated with Shop Zero to encourage participants to get creative with their planting spades (check out the awesome creations here). The owner of the best-dressed spade won a R1500 hamper from Shop Zero! Congratulations to Leani and Elouise who won the best-dressed spade for their beautiful purple creation!

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Shari Lee Thompson

Marching their way down to the plant site, we saw some of the funkiest outfits, cool hats, bedazzled spades and felt the excitement radiating through the crowd. The sounds of drums, voices in unison, tambourines (and the occasional turkey imitation),  echoed as the planters sang songs to build up our gees as we got ready for a day of planting 5000 trees!

We arrived at the Blomerus planting site, and the planting leaders on each team started by giving us all a demo on the correct way to plant a tree. Learn more about the planting method we used here. Thank you Connoisseur Electronics for enabling us to have musicians perform at the planting stage with those epic JBL speakers donated!

Photographers: Shari Lee Thompson, Christian Khayo

There were big hands, small hands, veteran hands and novice hands in the soil, collecting mulch and gentling massaging baby trees out of their holders and placing them into the soils which would become their new homes.

Species planted include:

  • Wild olive (Olea europaea africana)
  • White Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme)
  • White stinkwood (Cektis africana)
  • Bladdernut (Diospyros whyteana)
  • White pear (Apodytes dimidiata)
  • Wild peach (Kiggelaria africana)
  • Pock ironwood (Chionanthus faveolatus)
  • Tree fuschia (Halleria lucida)
  • Cape Beach (Rapanea melanophloeos)
  • Assegaai (Curtisia dentata)
Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Christian Khayo

A massive thank you to Platbos Forest Reserve, who were integral in making this reforestation work possible. Without your collaboration, support and the involvement of Francois Krige, his team and the local community members involved, this work would not have been possible.

Staying fuelled on the planting site

As the planting neared its end, we all gathered together for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party of delicious snacks and refreshments. Planters satisfied their munchies with crisp apples from The Valley Farms, crunchy corn chips from Santa Anna’s, paired with hummus from Pesto Princess. Scrumptious plant-based nuggets from Live Kindly Collective were dunked in tasty Pesto Princess pesto and freshly made sandwiches of bread from Ou Meul smothered with nutty spreads from ButtaNutt. All washed down with refreshingly cool BOS iced tea and Brew Kombucha.

After a day of planting, we all walked back from Blomerus and got back to the festival grounds for some more activities and workshops, flowing into a full line-up of exceptional live music and DJs.

Conservation Wine

The WWF Conservation Wine tent carried the spirit of environmentalism into the rest of the day. Planters were able to relax, sit and sip on some of the Western Cape’s most fruitful and sustainable wines from wineries such as LOST BOY, Strandveld, Skipskop, Warwick and Boland Cellar. These wineries form part of the WWF Conservation Champions and produce wine with environmental farming practices and the conservation of nature in mind. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Jessie Leverzencie

Jamming out under a starry sky

As evening fell, our Hemp stage started to liven up as musicians like Yoshe (aka Josh from Grassy Spark), Majozi and Jeremy Loops brought their sounds to the stage. Jeremy perfromed as our headline artist at this year’s festival and it was a full circle moment 12 years later, as he was one of the co-founders involved in starting Reforest Fest back in 2011.

 A rising moon set the backlighting, along with warm hues from the eco-friendly, locally crafted lights by Litehouse, which glittered across the festival grounds. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Lizzy Erwee

The cheers of happy festival-goers echoed around the site, as the sounds of some new and well known songs reverberated and the crackle of bonfires shot sparks of light into the night air. A big thank you to Cape Audio College and their team, who brought us a world-class sound experience at the event. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Jessie Leverzencie

The bar area kept guests refreshed with sparkling Fitch & Leedes tonics, Leonista agave spirit, RGBC Spirits, Brew Kombucha, Cape Cola and delicious Jack Black beer for our guests and musicians energized throughout their sets at Reforest Fest. 

Connecting with family & friends 

Sunday kicked off with an early morning dance session with Secret Sunrise, followed by an hidden easter egg treasure hunt sponsored by Honest Chocolate for the kids. These locally-made, sustainably sourced treats were a huge hit as little faces covered in chocolate smiled from ear-to-ear.

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Shari Lee Thompson

Throughout the weekend, our Crafts & Kids Area was packed with activities for little ones to learn, create, play and be youthful. Kids listened to stories, went on forest walks, made origami, learned earth skills, got their faces painted and allowed their creativity to flourish. Eden Beds sponsored two plush beds for the kids to lounge on in between their playtime.

The adults were also spoiled with a treasure hunt around the grounds, sponsored by Sealand Gear. Guests had to crack the codes to the riddles and a lucky few found Sealand Gear hidden in and amongst the foliage and around the festival site.

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Jessie Leverzencie

Connecting with family and friends over a harvest feast

The Easter Sunday Harvest Feast was an assemblage of colourful, tasty, savoury, sweet and traditional fine cuisines courtesy of Kolossal Hospitality and incredible chef, Bridget Bartelmann. Festival-goers were treated to a stunning array of dishes, salads, homemade falafels, pita bread, quiches, roast vegetables, dips, cheeses and fresh bread. Sweet treats included hot cross buns, brownies and cakes. 

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Photographer: Lizzy Erwee

And if that wasn’t enough, Honest Chocolate, Boland Cellar and Strandveld Winery hosted a chocolate & wine pairing, where guests could enjoy a flavour symphony of dark chocolate and full bodied red wines.

Greenpop Reforest Fest 2023

Feeding hungry Greenpoppers throughout

Our incredible team of 150+ people were fuelled over the week with generous and inviting snacks and meals. OK Foods generously sponsored R20,000 towards food for the team and  Pesto Princess sauces coupled with AGT Foods dried goods held the baseline for many a meal. Happy Earth People sponsored us with amazing pasta, Eureka Mills with biscuits, rusks and flour, which were made into traditional fuffy potbrood to accompany our pootjie on the last night. These amazing partners really were at the core of powering our team’s hard work throughout the festival.

Photographers:Lizzy Erwee, Jessie Leverzencie, Misha Teasdale

The festival ended on Monday, with guests enjoying the beauty of the space before leaving. We are so grateful to everyone who attended, to our awesome partners, and to those who supported from near and far. A special shoutout to our local government sponsors: Western Cape Government, Overstrand Municipality and Gansbaai Municipality who helped make this work possible. A special thank you to DFY Studios for their generous support of the event, and finally to Primedia for helping us spread the word about the event on CapeTalk and KFM.

Want to be a part of the memories next year? Join us at Reforest Fest 2024 over the Easter weekend,  29 March – 1 April 2024 at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat for another chance to party for the planet! Get your tickets here.

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Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.