Tag Archive for: Reforestation


My time at Terra-Khaya was a little like stepping out of the box where things you thought were just imaginings become reality and the possibilities for living lightly on the earth are endless. It’s amazing how simple everyday elements like a beer bottle top, a horse’s halter and a solar panel can be seen in a completely new light because of the beauty and exquisite experiences they can manifest when put to good use. This is how it unfolded….

The principles of living lightly are evident everywhere at Terra-Khaya, from the characterful cottages made from salvaged wood, road signs and other unique upcycled elements, to the recycling zone which is an everyday changemaker’s dreamland. Absolutely NOTHING is thrown away at Terra-Khaya, everything is sorted into categories in bright yellow old oil drums nailed to the wall so that the lids, bottles and corks can be given new life or recycled. So when it came time to mosaic the freshly daubed inside wall of the  new lodge, built from the ground up on natural building principles, it made perfect sense to use the colourful, shiny metal bottle tops from beers and ciders. They were easy enough to find in the well-categorised drums and while the mud wall was still wet we pushed them in gently to create a glittering tree of life in celebration and in preparation for the reforestation festival that was about to start. That weekend, along with Greenpop, 250 of us planted 2 400 trees on that land and not only did I discover first hand the power of a human chain to move trees up a mountain and how many hands, including little ones, make light work, but I will never again look at an insignificant bottle top in the same way. It really is not something to be thrown away, it can be given new purpose in the tree of life, and it was.


Being aware of our footprint on the Earth comes down to reverence and respect for all life and Shane Eades, founder of Terra-Khaya, expresses this compassion beautifully through his natural horsemanship techniques. There are no bits and bridles at Terra-Khaya and horses are guided by your body, your voice and your respect for them. I grew up riding bareback on ponies, but I had never before been on an outride without the control of a bridle and so when Jeremy Loops, one of the local musicians performing at the festival and co-founder of Greenpop, was keen to swop out his surfboard for a trusty steed I was glad to get a chance to try the natural riding with just halter and reins. Riding through the tall tree forest and enveloping mist at dusk and feeling the freedom where horse and rider become one was truly memorable and the pure exhilaration was balm for the soul. What we think we know because that is the way it has always been done does not have to be so….


And of all the out-the-box experiences of my time there, one of the most heartening for the future was the vote of confidence in renewable energy and what it can manifest. Terra-Khaya runs purely on solar power and fire from alien tree wood. This includes cooking, hot water and computers being powered by sun and fire. And while the sun luckily does not have an off button, it seems neither do musicians. Jeremy and James were not going to be held back by our mental dependence on Eskom electricity to make a music video they urgently needed to send to  America. So they proceeded to film it, cut it and mix it using GoPros and their computers fueled by the stored solar energy. So the Jeremy Loops video you see below is made purely on solar power and a whole lot of love right there on Terra-Khaya. Now that is something to get excited about, the innovations, the reverence, the creativity is there and waiting, all we need to do is step outside the confines of what we think we know and create the future beautiful we’re all dreaming of. Who’s game?




Photo credits to Kate Janse van Rensburg, Jeremy Loops, Rhian Berning, Terra-Khaya and Wesley Davis.

If you would like to experience the Hogsback Festival of Trees for yourself, happening this month 24-27 September 2015, then visit their page on Eco Atlas to find out how to book your tickets, and just for luck enter the competition below and you could win two tickets!



Plant trees, dance to local musos, do yoga in the forest, eat healthy food, attend eco workshops and revel in the magic of Hogsback this September.

Here is how you enter, have fun!

1. Tag the person you would oh so love to go with in the comments of the Facebook post (feel free to add in a bit of poetree)

2. For an extra entry add a photo of a tree you’ve planted or tweet us on @EcoAtlas.

Share the love and share the Facebook post while you’re at it.

The prize includes…

Two three day tickets valued at R1300 from Thursday pm to Sunday lunch.

9 healthy vegetarian meals for two, tree planting, live music & Dj’s on Friday & Saturday Night, eco-workshops, yoga, meditation, discussion groups, upcycle art sessions & share fair. PLUS extra workshops on permaculture, natural building, making compost, building swales, forest hikes, food forest gardening, natural horsemanship & gardening with indigenous trees AND free camping on the Thursday night.

(The prize does NOT include transport to the festival or accommodation on the Friday and Saturday night, camping costs for the weekend at Terra-Khaya would be R200 in total for two people or you could find some magical accommodation in Hogsback village)

Winners will be announced on Friday 11 September 2015.


IMG_20140918_104935There is something very powerful about feeling part of a greater whole, of experiencing a group consciousness to actively use your hands and see the difference you can make. This past weekend was spent up in the hills of Hogsback with my family and 250 other treevolutionaries with the aim of getting 2 400 indigenous trees in the ground and having a seriously good time while doing it. GreenPop, a Cape Town based organisation with a focus on cooling the planet through tree planting, have Reforest Fests in the Overberg and in ZambIMG_20140917_201515ia and decided to branch out (pun intended) and transform the Wattle saturated hillsides of Terra Khaya Eco Backpackers in Hogsback to their former glory, something  JRR Tolkien would have been proud of. After all, a runaway Wattle plantation looks nothing like the rich forests we ogle in Lord of the Rings and that richness speaks of a biodiversity upon which, for one, the endangered Cape Parrot depends. Have you ever noticed the eerie silence of alien tree forests? Our local birds, insects, animals and butterflies are not able to survive or thrive in these barren ecosystems which also effect our water and rivers with their very thirsty roots. But, as Shane Eades of Terra Khaya enlightened us, these alien trees have their part to play in the handover, they provide shade and shelter for the baby indigenous trees to grow and they act as soldiers on the edge of the natural forests, sacrificing themselves for firewood while protecting the natural trees from the same fate.

human chain1 (1)And so, we arrived from all over the country and the world in magical Hogsback, from Joburg to Cape Town, from Botswana to Germany and the US, and were treated to good food, unbelievable local music and the opportunity to become active members of the treevolution! There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a freshly planted tree, with the sense of time and hope stretching into the future it brings. Especially when you are planhuman chain1 (2)ting with your children and envision them as young adults visiting the forest they helped to plant. Goosebumps. And yet it was no easy task, how do you move 2 400 trees up a steep mountainside? With a human chain of course! And that is one sure way to feel connected and effective as a group, you pass to me, I pass to her and we make it happen, a human funicular! Those baby trees were touched, loved and handled with care by almost all of us there! So that by the time we got to actually planting the trees we all had a good sense of the part we play in the greater whole and that what we do, each one of us, matters. The atmosphere was so tangibly positive, there were no masks, no egos, just open faced smiles and the collective sense of we’re doing this thing and it feels GOOD! There was Jenny from Germany planting her very first tree alongside my seven year old daughter who has felt the soil on her hands for many years already. It was beautiful.

Afterwards, we danced the night away until our happily weary muscles could dance no more, then sat round the fire and reminisced with new friends and kindred spirits, feeling the glow of the treevolution in our veins. And as we made our way down the mountain the next day and spread out in different directions to our homes, I hoped that all the passionate people present would hold onto what they had experienced and continue with their everyday revolutions by making conscious choices for people and planet on a daily basis. And my deepest wish is that Eco Atlas will play a part in empowering these conscious choices as we interact with the give and take of our daily worlds and as we awaken to the fact that every choice we make can have either a positive or negative impact. Until we meet again, of course, on a hillside or African plain to feel the might of our many hands and the power of the whole.



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