Kelly Blake, a 19-year-old teaching intern at Kirstenhof Primary School, is raising funds for trees in her efforts to get to the Eden Festival of Action, a week-long environmental programme in the Garden Route.
Every R120 raised donates a tree to non-profit organisation Greenpop’s reforestation projects across Southern Africa and gives Ms Blake a discount on the festival fee.
Greenpop has been running the Festival of Action in the Garden Route since 2018. This after wildfires in 2017 devastated 16 000 hectares of plantations, fynbos, and homes in the Knysna and Bitou regions.
“Over 1400 trees were raised as part of the Trees for Fees initiative last year. Five hundred of these trees were planted in our Khoinania Restoration Project in Nature’s Valley as part of the event, and the rest were allocated to our other forest restoration projects across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Carla Wessels, from Greenpop.
“This year, our goal, is to raise more than 1400 trees through the Trees for Fees initiative. Five hundred trees will be planted at our Khoinania Restoration Project and 1500 trees will be planted at our Kraaibos Forest Restoration Project in Knysna,” Ms Wessel said.
The festival’s programme combines practical ecosystem restoration work, such as tree-planting, with a full line-up of workshops, talks and activities from sustainability experts.
Volunteers like Ms Blake will have the opportunity to learn about medicinal plants, wild foraging, permaculture principles, eco-architecture and mycology.
Should she be able to attend, Ms Blake says she is most looking forward to learning about biomimicry and how to supercharge your well-being through nature.
Ms Blake plans to use what she learns at the festival to inspire others to make changes.
“I am looking to get more involved in the Interact and the eco club and see how we can work together to make the school more eco friendly. So maybe plant a vegetable garden and look after it. We can give those vegetables to a local school.”
She has been an avid member of Interact, a community-service club, since she was a pupil at Wynberg Girls’ High School.
“My whole life is centred around service and helping people,” she said. “I absolutely loved Interact. I was part of it from Grade 8 to 12, and we would do projects, all sorts of projects, walk down to Victoria Hospital and spend time in the children’s ward. Or go to the local old age home. We would plan events for kids from less fortunate schools to come to our school and do a whole sports day with them. I really enjoy talking to and helping people and it has taught me a lot about myself.”
Being of service, she said, was what attracted her to the Festival of Action.
“I love the fact that they are helping local schools in the community. They do workshops with the people that live there. I’m quite excited to get my hands dirty and actually be a part of the physical change that you can see.”
Ms Wessels said: “Kelly is a dedicated young activist who has already raised 60% of her fund-raising goal. If she raises enough funds to plant 80 trees (R9 600), she will earn herself a free spot at the Eden Festival of Action.”
Eighty trees will cover the full costs for a festival ticket, food and accommodation in a shared tent. Her GivenGain fund-raiser page has surpassed the halfway mark but still has a way to go to reach her goal before Thursday September 1.