Week 2 of the Festival of Action has passed and we have had inspired individuals join us from Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil, America, Germany, Croatia, England, Canada and The Netherlands thus far. Together we planted trees, took eco-education to schools where we all learnt something new, expanded and maintained our food forests, built rocket stoves and created meaningful bonds with the diverse group of people that are working together during this project.
Zambia Festival of Action Week Two!
Mondays are always about finding our feet by getting background and context of Zambia’s environmental issues, as well as global environmental issues facing all of us, with a discussion at the Miombo Woodlands. In the evening our new participants put their heads together to make a fire without any matches or lighters! We of course then had to close with a fireside jam.
While many have an idea of what the Festival of Action programme entails, few know that much of the festival funds we raise go directly towards expert-led community-based capacity development. Throughout the festival, we run external programmes working with the community alone. This year, two new communities have been identified and partnered with. Our Greenpop experts, Meg Coates Palgrave, renowned dendrologist who co-authored Trees of Southern Africa, and sustainability practitioner Artwell Chivinge, from Buriro in Zimbabwe, have visited the communities of Milangu and Kassia, where they have been teaching members Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). The community is walked through the process of participatory appraisal, identifying their natural, physical, financial, human and social assets and planning effectively with these, in order to create a livelihood that promotes longevity and sustainability. This week we will be facilitating a final meeting where an action plan will be discussed for them to roll out.
We planted trees at schools, built a rocket stove and popped in with the UNESCO artists to see how their artwork was coming along. The mural is now near completion, a swing has been installed (yay!), waste is being upcycled into art and the 3-meter tree sculpture is starting to take shape! Although when asked, the talented sculptor Owen Milyoni says that not even he is sure what the final outcome will look like as it is made entirely out of scrap metal sourced around Livingstone, and evolves as pieces fit into place.
Another expert-led community workshop was introductory and advanced beekeeping facilitated by Cliff Maunze from Environment Africa. This was one of the most rewarding days when we arrived for our second workshop at Milangu Community, to build beehives from scratch. It was so inspiring working with a community who arrived enthusiastic with both male and female participants across the age spectrum armed with harvested grass, wood, fibre and reeds, ready to make their own bee hives. We left late Thursday afternoon, overjoyed but exhausted after spending an entire day in the hot sun building 9 hives from both commercial timber and harvested natural materials. We will be following up with Milangu in 4 months to monitor and evaluate their progress and then host an advanced beekeeping workshop to teach them how to harvest the honey, beeswax and propolis in order to enter the market as a community.
Friday was a day of finally bearing the fruits of our hard labour when Misha Teasdale and Lloyd Maanyina picked lemons from some of the first citrus trees that Greenpop planted 5 years ago! Our team will be savouring the sweet taste of these lemons that are the tangible outcome of patience and a commitment to sustainable farming practices. Lloyd was an ex-charcoal burner who is now a tree conservationist. Makhulu documented his story with Amazing Grace 5 years ago and they have now returned to do a follow-up!
While Saturdays are a day off there is no short of excitement. Participants get immersed into everything that Livingstone has to offer by either roaming the labyrinth that is Maramba market, exploring the outskirts of Livingstone town on a bicycle tour, or soaking up the richness of the Zambezi river by white river rafting, zip lining across the gorge, bungee jumping or bridge swinging. Just take a look at our video for a glimpse!
Always a sad day of departure but we were also excited to greet our new participants for the third and final week!