If there’s one thing which brings most of the original GLOW girls together, it’s a collective love for the environment - and a shared history with Greenpop. We pretty much all met knee deep in soil, planting trees to restore South African ecosystems. Not a bad way to kick off a partnership.
A couple of weekends ago we got the chance for a little reunion in the form of a very simplified version of Greenpop’s Reforest Fest.
Nestled in a small valley, Georgina Hamilton and Glenn Leisching, custodians of Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat, hosted our gaggle of effusive tree-planters for a couple of days of action. Just a stone’s throw from Platbos Forest, which played host to the initial 10 years of the Reforest Fest before they ran out of space - that’s right, over 88 000 trees have been planted in an effort to restore the forest to its original integrity.
Due to the world at large right now, we couldn’t quite throw the epic party we wanted to, so it turned into a reunion of sorts - of Greenpop crew from across the years. About 40 new keen beans joined our ranks and we put just over 2500 baby trees into the soil over three planting days.
As always, it’s a multi-layered experience. While planting the trees is paramount, the connection with people, the furthering of environmental education, the equipping of people to go out and make a difference on their own, is another central cause behind these events. While getting the tree in the ground might be the formative work of our time, it’s the inbetween bits, the human connection, which really creates the ripple effects.
Friday saw the troops trickle in. A group of high school students joined us from the Overberg area, in collaboration with Cape Nature and Grootbos Foundation, to put a running start of 250 trees in the soil.
Greenpoppers old and new rolled into our minimal ranks. A group of go-getters had even cycled all the way from Cape Town over two days. We got cozy around the fire, swapped news and glasses of wine, and took to our tents early in anticipation of the day to follow.
Saturday dawned chilly and damp. We huddled in the fine drizzle and took in the scope of the planting site for the day. The crew trickled in, coffee in hand, got warm with a vibrant Wake Up Shake Up boogie to get the blood flowing and the energy going, and then we strolled across the stream, kitted out in our GLOW, spades in hand.
“Look at this soil!”
I wasn’t sure who shouted it, but I think we all agreed. The planting site took a good section of the south-facing slope, and the soil is moist and soft - beneath and tangle of kikuyu grass and deep mulch. The trees slipped into the ground, a babble of voices rose above the chirping of birds. People swapped stories and spades, the rain eased and the sun began to peep through before lunchtime. A lazy afternoon decompressing, a micro-boogie into the evening, a whole lotta stoke for the work well done, and then time for bed.
Sunday was a day for learning, engaging, reconnecting. A small team headed off to put another few hundred trees into the ground on the planting site. Francois Krige of Platbos Forest Reserve led a walk through the landscape which has slowly been restored over the last 10 years, a series of biomimicry workshops, massage workshops, and guided meditations rolled out - all the good, wholesome stuff to pick and choose from.
Greenpop has a unique way of attracting the sort of like-minded people who don’t often congregate, instilling in us a collective love for the natural world around us and a fiery desire to make a distinct difference. And our GLOW kept us groovy the entire weekend.
Our work-hard play-hard attire - our GLOW got gritty and grubby, knees in the soil, cuffs tucked to keep out the mulch. They kept us moving, on our feet in the kitchen, preparing wholesome meals for a crew of happy hard workers. They even took to the dancefloor that evening, for a much needed wiggle, and kept us warm through cozy fireside conversations.
Nothing like a trusty pair of leggings for every single part of a ecosystemic day, hey?