The problem with global warming is that it’s just so overwhelming. Really, where do you start? Well, according to three friends, you start right here, right now, by planting a tree.
Misha Teasdale, Lauren O’Donnell and Jeremy Hewitt are three friends who started out with a simple goal – to offset a major overseas trip by planting trees. That goal was 1000 trees, and they planted them in their first month (September 2010). Then they kept going.
Greenpop’s aim is to plant indigenous and fruit trees in under-greened schools, crèches and community centres. They want to promote green awareness across Cape Town and, in the future, South Africa. At the same time as they’re planting these trees, they want to inspire young minds to think in a greener, more sustainable way and realise the potential and future power of trees.
Anyone can buy a tree that will be planted on their behalf, for R75 a tree or R100 for a fruit tree. They have chosen beneficiary locations that are under-greened and in desperate need of trees, and have a cell phone managed beneficiary maintenance programme to ensure the trees are well looked after and sponsors are updated on their progress. Technically, there are no indigenous tree species that grow on the Cape Flats, one of the most popular beneficiary locations, as it’s a harsh environment with a high water table in winter and vicious wind in summer. Greenpop have chosen specific sites with local people to care for the trees while they get established and strong, and have chosen a list of indigenous trees with the best chance of surviving in the area.
As for the actual planting, that’s done by an ever-rotating group of volunteers – another thing you can sign up for on their website. As well as the physical planting of trees, Greenpop is involved in training days, in partnership with Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. In December they held their first training with teachers, principals and ground staff from all the schools where they have planted trees so far. Part of Greenpop’s mission is spreading environmental awareness through training days and follow-up sessions, as this knowledge will filter through into the communities.
Anyone who has experienced the relief of a pool of cool shade on a hot day will know that trees are an essential part of any South African community. Bear in mind that they also bear fruit, contribute oxygen to our environment and help communities thrive in a multitude of ways and it’s a wonder we’re not all out there planting trees. If you want to help Greenpop in their valuable work – either by donating time or money – visit http://greenpop.org