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WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PLANTING TREES
When you buy from us, we plant a tree for every order delivered.
These trees help restore the environment, reduce the impact of climate change and create a greener earth for future generations. In developing countries, this equips people to grow their own food and build sustainable incomes for their families. In addition, a several promising climate-smart agroforestry practices have been developed to improve crop yields and to revitalize soil health, water use efficiency and carbon storage.
THE POWER OF A SINGLE TREE
- Produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year
- Absorbs as much carbon in a year as a car produces driving 26,000 miles
- Helps lower air temperature and helps combat climate change
- Stabilizes the soil and prevents wind and soil erosion through its roots
- Contributes to the fertility of land through nitrogen fixation and increasing water penetration
A DEEPER LOOK: SUSTAINABLE TREE PLANTING PRACTICES IN AFRICA
This forest garden planting program helps train farmers in developing countries on how to build productive and sustainable crops and farms. We plant a tree for every product sold, enabling the development of rural communities, empowering local people to restore their environment, grow their own food and build a sustainable income and future for themselves, their families and their communities. We are proud to be able to continually contribute to the development of these regions.
By planting specific types of fast-growing trees, fruit trees, hardwoods and food crops in a systematic manner over a four-year period, families can positively change their lives forever. Program participants plant thousands of trees that provide families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuelwood and a 400% increase in their annual income in four years.
We cooperate forest garden planting program from organisation TREES, non-profit organisation that has, since 1989, helped 1 million people in thousands of communities in over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America plant more than 80 million trees.
- TREES focuses their efforts on tropical locations around the globe where trees can have the most beneficial impact on the environment
- Tropical species planted in the tropics grow much quicker and for longer periods each year than non-tropical species planted in colder climates
- Tailor agroforestry techniques to the needs of the community
- In communal forests, they focus on large-scale reforestation and the development of non-timber forest products
- In agricultural fields, the focus is on fast-growing multipurpose trees that serve as windbreaks, firebreaks, woodlots or living fences that help with erosion control and improve soil fertility
HOW DOES THE FOREST GARDEN PROGRAM WORK?
Our partner, a non-profit organisation TREES plants all sorts of trees and plants, and nearly all the trees they use are either native or naturalized in the environments where we plant them. TREES partner with farmers to understand their needs and match them with species that will suit their needs and be environmentally benign.
The farmers we work with learn to grow a variety of fast-growing trees, fruit trees, hardwoods and vegetables. We use the fast-growing trees to secure and stabilize degraded lands. Then we help the farmer diversify his field with fruit trees and hardwoods. Farmers intercrop vegetables and field crops among the trees.
TREES Forest Garden Project methodology follows a phased approach that begins with mobilizing resources and stakeholders, then guides farmers through a series of steps, over the course of up to four years, through which they learn to design, establish, and manage their Forest Gardens before graduating from the program. The five-phase approach includes:
Phase I: Mobilization – In the first phase of the approach we hire project staff and meet with relevant stakeholders (government reps, community leaders, and potential partners) to solicit their support and formalize the project. With the help of stakeholders, we identify interested farmer groups, lead farmers, and participants, and host orientation workshops prior to pursuing training and extension activities.
Phase II: Protection – Phase II through IV comprise the phases of Forest Garden establishment. In the protection phase we provide farmers with the skills and resources needed to protect their forest garden sites. Farmers achieve this by planting green walls – an enhanced version of a living fence that we have developed – around the perimeters of their sites. They then plant fast-growing fertilizer trees throughout their sites, often in alleys among their crops, to further stabilize their soils and enhance fertility.
Phase III: Diversification – As the green walls grow and soils become increasingly fertile, farmers begin to diversify the products they grow in their Forest Gardens. During this phase, farmers plant higher-value vegetables, fruit, nut, and timber trees. They also learn increasingly advanced skills and techniques that will help them manage their Forest Gardens more effectively and sustainably.
Phase IV: Optimization – In the fourth phase, farmers will learn to adopt advanced Forest Garden planting and care, integrated pest management, and conservation techniques that optimize and ensure the long-term health, productivity, and profitability of their land.
Phase V: Graduation – The fifth and final phase of TREES Forest Garden approach consists of transitioning ownership of the project to the farmer groups to continue supporting each other as a team in the on-going development and management of their Forest Gardens and marketing of products. Projects are concluded with a graduation ceremony during which we recognize the efforts and accomplishments of farmers, staff, and other stakeholders, and present farmers who have completed the program with Master Forest Gardener Certification
We lose trees at a rate of 50 soccer fields per minute as our food systems destroy our ecosystems. Most of this degradation occurs in the developing tropics of Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia where hundreds of millions of chronically-hungry, smallholder farming families use destructive and short-sighted agricultural practices that further degrade their communities trees, soil, water and biodiversity, making them even more likely to migrate and more vulnerable to the climate changes that lie ahead.
The Forest Garden Program is a simple, replicable and scalable approach with proven success. By planting specific types of fast-growing trees, fruit trees, hardwoods and food crops in a systematic manner over a four-year period, families can positively change their lives forever. Forest Gardens consist of thousands of trees that provide families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuel wood and a 400% increase in their annual income in four years.
The challenge we face is how to train hundreds of millions of farmers to plant Forest Gardens. Most smallholder farmers world-wide are low-literate, highly dispersed, chronically hungry, and living in extreme poverty. They own, on average, less than five acres, and are dependent upon tree products from local forests for their survival.
HOW PROGRAM WORKS
A group of farmers—typically 300 families at a time —who have both a great need for assistance and a high likelihood of success, is identified. Farmers provide the land, labour, and water; a powerful, entrepreneurial determination; and an inspiring sense of ownership. TREES provide training, mentoring, seeds, and nursery supplies for each family. We guide the large groups of farmers through the process of using trees to protect, diversify, and eventually optimize their crop land. We continue working with farmers for the four years it takes to fully establish the Forest Garden, offering ongoing coaching and regular site visits.
ACCESS FOR ALL
In our many years of research and development, our partners have found the ultimate methodology to empower communities and project leaders that ends poverty, hunger, and deforestation. The Forest Garden Training Program was designed to bring the Forest Garden Approach impact to scale. We hope to share the Forest Garden Approach with as many people around the globe as possible in an effort to meet our goal as fast as possible.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR PARTNERS:
WHO OWNS THE TREES?
Farmers own the land and the trees on them. They do the labour and provide the land and water. The trees are their futures. We provide seeds, nursery materials and training, but the farmers own their trees, and are responsible for caring for them.
WHERE PROGRAM IS WORKING?
Our partners are currently working with over 4,000 farming families across six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our focus is on the implementation of Forest Garden Programs in Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Guinea and Tanzania, as these are areas where we are having the biggest impact and seeing amazing results.
HOW EXACTLY DO TREES HELP PEOPLE?
There are many ways that trees are beneficial to both people and the environment: Trees are habitat for biodiversity; Trees create much of the planet’s oxygen; and, Trees help combat climate change – the list is nearly limitless, but we focus on the role trees play in agroforestry and in helping farming families improve their land quality and productivity.
Agroforestry integrates trees into agriculture and landscapes, a model that is particularly appropriate for resource poor farmers in developing countries. In addition to providing fruits, berries, and nuts, trees provide environmental services that are essential for families in the developing world: they can improve the fertility of degraded soils (through nitrogen fixation), prevent wind and soil erosion (thereby also contributing to improved fertility), increase water penetration into underground aquifers, and contribute to improvements in the growing environment. Trees help to lessen the wind that might affect crops, cool off ground temperatures, and trap moisture and nutrients in the soil so that food crops grow better in the improved microclimate.
Trees also provide fodder for animals, create living fences, and can be a source of sustainable fuelwood production. (Yes – some of these trees are cut for fuelwood, but these are trees that coppice well – meaning they will grow back year after year when they are properly cared for.)
IS A FOREST GARDEN LIKE PERMACULTURE?
You may know Forest Gardens by other names, such as polyculture, permaculture, agroforestry, or something else – and these are all related and good descriptions of what we aim for – a multi-layered, multipurpose distribution of vegetables, bushes, and lots of trees – designed to optimize productivity of a piece of land. It is a farming system that thinks vertically, not just horizontally.
Forest gardens stand in stark contrast to modern industrial agriculture which encourages farmers to plant one or few crops. Time and time again, we find monocultures to be chemical-intensive, environmentally destructive, and deadly to biodiversity and long-term human prosperity.
ARE THERE ONLY INDIGENOUS TREES THAT ARE PLANTED?
No. In the degraded and deforested zones where we operate, we cannot simply plant the types of trees that used to be there. As trees are lost, the growing conditions on a piece of land change. The trees that once stood there cannot regrow in harsh, direct sunlight. We have to find other trees with pioneer qualities that tolerate harsh, full sunlight and arid conditions. After the pioneer species begin to cool the land and improve soil quality we have more success growing a diverse array of fruit trees and hardwoods. There are times when the best pioneer trees for a given landscape and climate are not native, but they are generally naturalized, meaning they already exist and grow in that country.
For us, the primary concern is not indigenous vs. non-native, but rather, of invasiveness. Whether a species is invasive or not is a complex issue; the same species may or may not be considered invasive, depending on local environmental conditions. We work with local forestry specialists and the communities themselves to identify appropriate trees species for each place we operate.
Further, many of the most economically beneficial species can be both non-native and non-invasive. For example, we plant many orange, mango, and banana trees every year at some of our project sites in Africa, even though they are not indigenous.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WATER?
Water is a critical limiting factor in our line of work, so we have come up with many ways to mitigate the challenges faced. For example, when we select communities, we prioritize those that either do not have a history of water shortages in their well or just recently gained access to running water.
When we train people in arid lands to establish nurseries, we have found ways for farmers to grow seedlings by using minimal amounts of water, even gray water which is left over from other household tasks.
When designing Forest Gardens, we often have to select drought-resistant trees which survive on little water, and we plant windbreaks to minimize the drying effect – evapotranspiration as it is called – that dry winds have on the land.
We time our nurseries so that seedlings are planted at the beginning of every rainy season, maximizing the amount of time they get rained on as most trees we plant are not watered throughout the dry season.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH THE FARMERS?
TREES’ technicians and collaborating NGOs work directly with farmer groups. We empower lead farmers, identified within farmer groups, to both distribute materials and act as resources to their fellow farmers. They become mentors for their cluster of farmers. Working with lead farmers and local collaborators, we deliver training directly to the farmers, and we also visit each farmer’s farm at least once every year.
During site visits, TREES technicians visit the nursery, the family and their forest garden, providing onsite consultation and collecting data on the impact of our program. We work with farmers for a four-year cycle, empowering each family to grow and plant a Forest Garden which will help that family well into the foreseeable future.
DO YOU PAY FARMERS TO PLANT TREES?
We do not pay farmers to participate in our Forest Garden Program. Each of our farmers is trained by our staff and technicians in proper agroforestry techniques after they have been selected for our program.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE TREES ARE PLANTED?
We have developed a world-class monitoring and evaluation process that meticulously tracks the number of trees planted, where, and by whom. This data is digitally collected and processed for our team to locate problems and success in each Forest Garden, so that they can be attended to.
Part of this process includes interviewing each individual farmer at least twice a year to determine how their Forest Garden is producing, any issues that need to be mitigated, and if they are having success at the market.
WHAT ARE SOME TYPES OF TREES YOU PLANT?
Farmers in TREES programs grow a variety fast-growing trees, thorny trees, fruit trees and hardwoods to create their Forest Garden.
They plant thorny trees, such as Acacia species, in living fences to protect their fields. They plant fast-growing, multipurpose trees to produce fertilizer, animal fodder and fuelwood. Our most popular fast-growing trees include: Acacia, Sesbania, Calliandra, Albizia, Leucaena and Cassia species. They plant fruit trees for food to eat and sell. Mangoes, citrus, cashew, avocado, and jujube are particularly common. For longer term investment, farmers often want to plant hardwoods such as mahogany, gmelina, and grevillea.
Here is a more comprehensive list of species we have planted across Africa:
Multi-Purpose Fast-Growing Trees
Acacia angustissima (Acacia, Prairie Acacia, White Ball Acacia)
Acacia mellifera (Acacia, Blackthorn, Senegalia mellifera)
Acacia nilotica (Acacia, Vachellia nilotica, Gum Arabic Tree)
Acacia polyacantha (Acacia, White Thorn)
Acacia senegal (Acacia, Senegalia senegal, Gum Acacia, Gum Arabic)
Albizia chinensis (Albizia, Chinese Albizia)
Albizia lebbeck (Albizia, Siris, Lebbeck, Woman’s Tongue Tree)
Albizia schimperiana (Albizia, Forest Long-Pod Albizia)
Azadirachta indica (Neem)
Calliandra calothyrsus (Calliandra)
Cassia siamea (Senna siamea)
Delonix regia (Flamboyant, Flame Tree, Royal Poinciana)
Faidherbia albida (Acacia albida, Apple-Ring Acacia, Winter Thorn)
Gliricidia sepium (Gliricidia, Cacao de Nance, Madre de Cacao)
Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda, Fern Tree)
Leucaena diversifolia (Leucaena, Red Leucaena, Wild Tamarind, Leucaena Petit Feuille)
Leucaena leucocephala (Leucaena, White Leadtree)
Leucaena pallida (Leucaena; synonyms are: dugesiana, esculenta, oaxacana, and panilulata)
Morus sp. (Mulberry)
Parkinsonia aculeata (Parkinsonia, Jerusalem Thorn)
Senna siamea (Senna, Cassia Tree, Cassia siamea)
Senna spectabilis (Senna, Cassia fastigiata, Cassia excelsa, and various Cassia species)
Sesbania sesban (Sesbania, Egyptian Rattle Pod)
Sesbania grandiflora (Hummingbird Tree)
Sesbania macrantha (Sesbania, Mlindaziwa)
Fruit and Nut Trees
Adansonia digitata (Baobab, Monkey-Bread Tree, Upside-Down Tree)
Anacardium occidentale (Cashew)
Balanites aegyptiaca (Desert Date)
Citrus sp. (Citrus, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Pomelo, etc.)
Cocos nucifera (Coconut)
Cola acuminata (Cola, Red Cola, Kola Nut)
Dacryodes edulis (African plum, Bush Plum, Safou, Prune)
Elaeis guineensis (Oil Palm)
Garcinia kola (Bitter Kola)
Irvingia sp. (Bush Mango)
Macadamia integrifolia (Macadamia Nut)
Mangifera indica (Mango)
Monodora myristica (Groundnut Spice, Calabash Nutmeg)
Moringa oleifera (Moringa, Drumstick Tree, Horseradish Tree)
Persea americana (Avocado, Pear)
Phoenix dactylifera (Date Palm)
Psidium guajava (Guava)
Ricinodendron heudelotii (Njangsa, Njasang)
Tamarindus indica (Tamarind)
Ziziphus mauritiana (Jujube, Goa)
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius (Pink Cedar)
Cedrela odorata (Spanish Cedar)
Cordia africana (Codria, Cordia abyssinia)
Gmelina arborea (Gmelina, Beechwood, White Teak)
Grevillea robusta (Grevillea, Silky Oak)
Khaya anthotheca (East African Mahogany)
Khaya senegalensis (Mahogany, Bois Rouge)
Maesopsis eminii (Umbrella Tree)
Milicia excelsa (African Teak)
Podocarpus sp. (Podocarpus)
Prunus africana (African Cherry, Prunus, Pygeum, Red Stinkwood)
Tectona grandis (Teak)
Vitex keniensis (Vitex, Meru Oak)
Shrubs, Vines and Fruiting Plants
Agave sisalana (Sisal)
Cajanus cajan (Pigeon Pea)
Carica papaya (Papaya)
Coffea sp. (Coffee)
Dovyalis caffra (Kai Apple)
Jatropha curcas (Jatropha, Physic Nut)
Musa spp. (Banana and Plantain)
Passiflora edulis (Passion Fruit)
Punica granatum (Pomegranate)
Solanum betaceum (Tamarillo, Tree Tomato)
Tephrosia vogelii (Fish Bean)
Theobroma cacao (Cocoa)
Garden and Field Crops
Allium sp. (onion, leek, garlic)
Beta vulgaris (Beet)
Brassica sp. (Cabbage and other brassica species such as Collards, Kale, etc.)
Capsicum and Piper sp. (Pepper; all types; hot and sweet)
Citrullis lanatus (Watermelon)
Colocasia and Xanthosoma sp. (African yams)
Cucurbita sp. (Includes pumpkin, butternut squash, etc.)
Daucus carota (Carrot)
Lactuca sativa (Lettuce)
Manihot esculenta (Cassava)
Phaseoulus vulgaris (Beans; various types)
Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato)
Solanum melongena (Eggplant)
Solanum tuberosum (Irish Potatoes)
Spinacia oleracea (Spinach)
Zea maize (Maize)