Organic Perspectives

Engaging smallholder farmers in protecting forests, adopting organic gardening techniques and the use of modern household energy for sustainable livelihoods. . Our Vision is to transform rural communities through biodiversity conservation, alternative energy and sustainable agriculture. We do this through agroforestry, sustainable household energy (biogas and improved woodstoves) and organic gardening projects with smallholder farmers.
Apr 15, 2013

Bringing travelers into environmental action

An old picture from our tree project
An old picture from our tree project

Organic Perspectives would like to bring you the latest news stories from our reforestation project in Kamuli and Buyende districts, Uganda. We are happy to share with you on:

  • Farmers groups of 2012, and our New Community Reforestation Centers
  • Bringing travelers into environmental action

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** Please accept our apologies: we just lost a huge volume of ALL the photos taken in the latest weeks from our work with rural farmers—we fell prey to a computer malware. Please look out for another stream of photos in the next report**

Farmers groups of 2012

We are really happy to follow up with the progress of the farmers groups (or Project Extension Groups) we trained for our very first four Community Tree Nurseries in the last half of 2012. All the groups have been able to reach out to other fellow farmers in their communities—providing them with seedlings and cascading our agroforestry training. The farmers are also confident that they can produce at least 30,000 trees per season at each site.

Some of the most interesting photos (we just lost) are those of farmers that have really set good examples of agroforestry systems especially alley cropping and live fencing. Their crop fields are doing extremely well!

New Community Reforestation Centers

This rainy season, we continue to reach out to new communities, establishing more Community Trees Nurseries. We are excited to come up with another goal of setting up a community reforestation centre in every place where we have already installed a household biogas digester—so that each such site works as an orientation centre for the local community on our overall work. Three of our newest community reforestation centers are operating on this kind of arrangement.

Bringing travelers into environmental action

Like any other small nonprofit in the developing world, we have limited partnerships and project support. In light of these challenges, Organic Perspectives recently launched its own offshoot ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’ specifically for the purpose of involving travelers in our ongoing environmental initiatives. See our story.

The travel industry is one of those social sectors literally accountable for the degradation of the environment—particularly through Greenhouse Gas Emissions associated with flights and transportation. Also, the tourism industry is directly dependent on our planet’s natural resources—and, as such, travelers are key stakeholders in the sustainability of the environment.

EcoTours & Travel Uganda wants to draw travelers into conservation, both directly and indirectly.

Direct Involvement: taking the opportunity of our direct contact with travelers, EcoTours & Travel Uganda is developing a ‘Travel CO2 Offsets’ initiative designed to create personal, real-life connections between travelers and environmental causes in the local destinations they are visiting. This will both build environmental awareness in the tourism industry and challenge travelers for practical forms of environmental responsibility.

Indirect Involvement: EcoTours & Travel Uganda’s core goal is to leverage resources from our own green tourism activities to build our capacity for scaling the activities of Organic Perspectives. One of the landmark products we are strategically using as source of our own internal funding is our ‘Green Travel Service’—through which we raise funds to scale our projects.

Our very promotional package dubbed the “Sustainability Travelers’ Trip” has directly been arranged to translate into tree planting. In this, a new community reforestation center (called a Project Extension Group - PEG) shall be set up for every traveler that participates in the safari. Each PEG will produce 25,000 trees per season (50,000 trees per year) and will act as the local extension hub for our activities in sustainable household energy and organic gardening. Learn about how we set up new PEGs here.

Links:

Jan 15, 2013

Volunteers for Organic Perspectives!

Kabugudo Community Nursery, Kidera (Buyende)
Kabugudo Community Nursery, Kidera (Buyende)

Dear Supporter of Organic Perspectives,

As we prepare to expand our project with new community nurseries to plant more trees this year, we think we can do more than our own small team and resources alone can allow, if we engage Volunteers.

In the first place, we need volunteers because our team is small and we can’t afford hiring local staff.

We are therefore developing a Volunteers Program (http://www.ecotours-uganda.org/?page_id=5473) through our subsidiary ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’, which I need to introduce a little:

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Looking back, Organic Perspectives has unwaveringly promoted activities in community forestry, organic gardening and alternative household energy (renewable and energy efficient biomass stove technologies) for rural smallholder farmers in Uganda’s rural areas, since 2007.

Over that time, we have seen that whereas environmental degradation (especially the relentless deforestation in the countryside) is at its height, there is little involvement of the foremost stakeholders touched by the quality of environmental sustainability: the tourism and travel industry.

Recently—therefore, we started EcoTours & Travel Uganda—as a subsidiary of Organic Perspectives.

Its primary aim is to promote ecotourism and socially responsible travel by protecting natural places, supporting local people and offsetting travel-related CO2 emissions.

But, generally, our underlying aim is that this will increase the visibility and potential support for the work of Organic Perspectives by putting it directly before travelers in Africa’s leading tourist destination (Uganda) who wouldn’t otherwise have minded about charitable work, or such a small nonprofit.

And this is working! Well, the start-up isn’t yet offering many great ecotours and safari packages as planned, but we are already seeing good prospects that this will bring the work of Organic Perspectives to the centre. Many people are visiting the new website http://www.ecotours-uganda.org and are contacting us about it—which has not been the case for our conservation projects.

And this has already been featured by “Fly For Good”, an organization focused on “promoting service travel to experience cultures and do humanitarian work overseas”. See: http://blog.flyforgood.com/?p=173

Then, a Canadian traveler in Uganda has even proposed running a crowd-source fundraiser to support our new Volunteers Program—so we can host volunteers without charging them to volunteer.

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Back to the point: we are developing this volunteer program as a way of enabling us to expand our community projects from the context of promoting ecotourism and socially responsible travel.

I needed to let you know how you can support our Volunteers Program:

1) If you can connect us with prospective volunteers that could work with us as described on the above link, it will be very helpful. Volunteers can be of any age above 18, and can stay with us for any length. You could even personally choose to come and work with us or ask a friend to join us!

2) We are also requesting you to share this with any groups or organizations we could partner with, in sending us volunteers. The program is ongoing, as we will be aiming at expanding our project across Kamuli and Buyende districts, and similar parts of Uganda.

3) If you could be able to run a fundraiser on behalf of us, it’d be most needed in the following two areas:

a) Raising support for our volunteers program—as in the above mentioned case.

b) Helping the local community of Kabugudo in Buyende (Uganda) acquire a water source (e.g. borehole). The village hosts our biggest community tree nursery but the nearest borehole (shared by over 350 households) is about 3km away. We are handling this particular issue in coordination with Trees for the Future’s Uganda Program Coordinator ‘Mathius Lukwago’ [mathius[at]treesftf.org] and we have been there this week.

Finally, before we build more networks for our work, we are always counting on your help to sustain our operational needs. You can help us by setting up a small recurring donation, maybe a second donation, and asking your friends to help!

Thank you for your support!

Anthony Kalulu | http://www.organic-persp.org  | http://www.ecotours-uganda.org

Dec 11, 2012

Initial Experiences from Social Forestry - Dec 2012

Kid with tree - Kidera
Kid with tree - Kidera

News from Organic Perspectives’ Agroforestry Project – December 2012.

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Organic Perspectives is happy to bring you this year’s final quarterly e-news update from our reforestation project in Kamuli and Buyende districts – Eastern Uganda. Here is a video summary of our new stories: http://youtu.be/w97BSsGBY-Q  – or please read on below!

Initial Experiences from (community-led) Social Forestry

Our supporters would be interested to know that this season (June – Dec, ‘12) has been the very first where we used ‘Social Forestry’ in our project. “Social forestry refers to a group of forestry management strategies for local community development, in which the aspects of local participation in management and in benefits of tree growing are central objectives” (Source).

In practice, we set up community-led reforestation centers (nurseries) at village or parish level; assign them to trained local ‘Project Extension Groups’ (PEGs) that in turn have to cascade our agroforestry training to their neighborhoods and manage all project chores—including the giving out of saplings to other farmers. We’d like to share with you our first experiences from this.

Community Participation

As captured in our earlier videos from June (http://www.youtube.com/user/organicperspectives) the new approach has captivated local farmers’ participation in our project the most—from mass engagement during nursery establishment and maintenance to the planting stage.

In the last 6 months, we initiated 2 community sites; one in Kisozi (Kamuli district) and other in Kidera (Buyende district). Our PEG in Kidera provided seedlings to about 55 households, planting an estimated 35,000 trees. The group in Kisozi provided over 20,000 seedlings to about 30 households and also used some of their seed to erect a hedge along a route that leads to a shallow well—aiming to reduce erosion.

We will be initiating 4 more community sites for the New Year, so we can have six.

Observations in Community Project Implementation

 1)     Tree spacing:

From our field visits to individual farmers’ planting sites, we find that some farmers need hands-on help with determining spacing in given agroforestry systems.

>> What can be done about it: For the New Year, our team has planned to work hand in hand with the respective PEGs in giving out the initial saplings at the sites. In this, we will demonstrate at a few farmers’ fields/gardens on the right spacing for given species and agroforestry systems. We think it’s all about making good examples; others could emulate.

2)     Dry-season maintenance

The shortage of water for sustaining transplanted seedlings when the rains don’t come proved to be the biggest difficulty in Kidera (Buyende) than Kisozi (Kamuli). Unlike other slightly-facilitated villages especially in Kamuli where a few development aid organizations have worked, our project site (Kabugudo) in Kidera has one borehole as the only water source (2km from the nursery site); serving at least 3 villages (over 300 families)!

>> What can be done about it: (Note: when our local PEG here first presented the issue to us back in August with a request that perhaps Organic Perspectives could make networks to help them install at least a second borehole nearby, our team immediately contacted one charity doing the same kind of work in a different part of Uganda, but this wasn’t successful).

 The greatest challenge here is also that these people therefore have a constrained access to drinking water. As this is a region with literally no public outreach, we’d request any of our supporters here who has connections to other organizations that could be able to help—at least only this village to get a borehole or deep well! Alternatively, someone could simply be able to launch an open discussion forum (e.g. a meetup page) to build crowd support for this.

Future Inclusions

For the New Year, we will seek to equally involve school kids in our project the way we work with local farmers—with a more systematically ongoing monitoring process. While we piloted (together with Trees for the Future Uganda) a school agroforestry project at 5 schools in Kamuli in 2010, it was more or less in the form of 1- 2 day training workshops at the schools!

Presently, our social forestry project has given us the insight that we can have a more thrilling project if we similarly involve kids—including having real planning meetings (not just training workshops) with the kids e.g. on how to manage nurseries and seedlings during the dry season, or during school time and holidays. Our latest experience as in the video above shows children are better able to handle things like ‘dry season maintenance’ as well as the planting of seedlings.

Introducing ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’.

We are delighted to introduce to you ‘EcoTours & Travel Uganda’, a sustainability subsidiary of Organic Perspectives that’s venturing in the tourism and travel industry.

As a responsible tourism and travel services provider, is a ‘sustainability’ subsidiary that helps ‘Organic Perspectives’ raise project funds through ecotourism and travel, as well as voluntary carbon offsets for the travel community—such as through tree planting and/or fuel-swicth to alternative household energy in rural areas.

Please check this out and invite your friends who are frequent travelers to explore the site and our services!

To a detailed background, please visit our temporary* page here: http://organicuganda.wix.com/ecotours

* Please note that the permanent website for EcoTours & Travel Uganda is http://www.ecotours-uganda.org (currently under construction).

Donations

Our supporters could be happy to learn that, during this month (Dec 1 – Dec 31, 2012), you can double the impact of your giving (by 100%) by setting up a recurring donation of up to $200 to our project on GlobalGiving. Please see GlobalGiving’s recurring donations page:

http://www.globalgiving.org/leaderboards/recurring-challenge-2012/

 You may also support us by bringing along a new donor—spreading word!

 Our project’s page on GlobalGiving is: http://www.goto.gg/10752

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Organic Perspectives | http://www.organic-persp.org

Links:

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