Trees for the Future

Trees for the Future is dedicated to ending extreme hunger and poverty across Sub-Saharan Africa by revitalizing degraded lands.
Dec 12, 2016

High Hopes for Forest Gardens in Uganda

Farmers Eyit Joe, left & Okaka Vincent on right
Farmers Eyit Joe, left & Okaka Vincent on right

Eyit Joe and Okaka Vincent are step brothers and neighbors in Orowma, a village in Northern Uganda. They are both participants in TREES’ Forest Garden Project in Uganda, which kicked off in April 2016. Eyit and Okaka are both married, with 15 children between the two families.

When their father passed away in 2013, his land was divided and given to his children: the two of them plus their 5 other brothers. Since then they have made due, growing cassava and maize in their fields, sometimes with beans. They each have a few banana trees, and small gardens with a few tomato, cabbage, bell pepper plants. It’s enough for now, but they worry about their growing children, most of them under 10. How are they going to feed them as they grow, and send them to school? Where are they going to sleep? The small huts they have are too small for so many people.

Eyit, Okaka, and their families were excited when Trees for the Future came to talk with them at the beginning of the year about the idea of turning their fields into Forest Gardens. They felt fortunate to be given the chance to be a part of the project. They never thought too much about planting trees on their fields; they never thought about how much it could help them. After participating in the initial training events they worked with their families to create designs of their fields that illustrate what they would like to grow in their Forest Gardens, and where. They learned to build tree nurseries and care for tree seedlings as they grew.

As the rains finally began – later than usual – in late September, they began planting their seedlings. Following TREES’ Forest Garden Approach, they first planted their trees in three parallel rows surrounding their fields to establish green walls. These green walls, an inner row of seedlings planted with Sesbania sesban, a parallel center row of Gliricidia sepium cuttings, and an outer row of Luecaena leucocephala seedlings, will grow quickly, protecting their fields and reducing soil erosion. They can use the abundant leaves to fertilize their fields’ soils, and the branches for fuelwood.

In January, after the rainy season, TREES project technicians will provide them with training, seeds, and tools to build permagarden beds, filling them with diverse, nutritious vegetables that they can eat and sell. After that they will begin planting fruit trees: avocado, mango, orange, and more banana. They know it will take some time before they can benefit from these fruit trees, but they can already visualize how the green walls will protect their fields and reduce their wives’ burden of fuelwood collection, and are excited for the new vegetables soon.

They are already making plans for the added income they will soon be earning: Okaka began building a brick house a while back, but hasn’t had the money to complete it. With some additional cash, he can finish the house and have more rooms for his 8 children. Eyit wants to build a new storage hut, to keep the mice and other pests from his harvests. He dreams of a brick house as well. They both are now more confident that they will be able to send all their kids to school, to buy their uniforms, and send them to the clinic when they are sick. They are happy they will be able to eat more, and eat healthier. Nine months into the project, Eyit and Okaka have high hopes for how Forest Gardens will change their lives.

Eyit Joe & son with Forest Garden green wall
Eyit Joe & son with Forest Garden green wall
Okaka Vincent & the house he hopes to finish
Okaka Vincent & the house he hopes to finish
A few of Eyit Joe
A few of Eyit Joe's children
Sep 13, 2016

September's here: back to school for our farmers!

TREES lead farmers get ready to visit projects!
TREES lead farmers get ready to visit projects!

Lira Project Report – September 2016

These past few months have been a busy and exciting time with Trees for the Future in Uganda, with several new training events and extensive establishment of tree nurseries.  It’s back-to-school season for our farmers, too. With your support, 285 farmers and their families – 2,020 individuals altogether – have received the training, materials, and support to begin establishing Forest Gardens. By the end of September more than 350,000 trees will be planted to create 285 green walls.

Trees for the Future (TREES) began to implement the Lira Forest Garden Project in January 2016. At the beginning the project, our technicians identified and mobilized 285 farmers from 13 existing farmer groups to participate. One person from each farmer group was selected by the group to take on the role of lead farmer. This lead farmer assists TREES’ technicians with training, materials distribution, data collection, farmer consultation, and other project activities.

The Forest Garden training program kicked off with farmer groups each discussing and identifying the various, diverse species of trees, vegetables, and other crops they would like to grow in their Forest Gardens. They then learned to draw maps of the land on which the training events were hosted, and practiced creating Forest Garden designs. After this first training event, farmers returned to their homes to develop Forest Garden designs of their future Forest Garden sites with their families. 

During the next set of training events held in May 2016, farmers learned to techniques to create robust tree nurseries, and were given the seeds and tools (including hoes, machetes, and watering cans) to establish their own nurseries and begin cultivating seedlings for planting. At the start of the rainy season in August, farmers participated in a training event that taught them the best practices for planting their seedlings and tree seeds this upcoming planting season. The tree  seedlings are grown in nurseries to out-plant in green walls composed of living trees. So far the 285 participant farmers and their families – more than 2,000 people altogether – have planted 224,800 trees in August to begin establishing the first two layers of the three-layer green walls. More than 100,000 more seedlings will be planted by the end of Sepetmber by Forest Garden farmers.

These green walls, planted with fast-growing species of Leucaena leucocephals, Calliandra calythrysus, and Sesbania sesban, will soon start to protect families’ Forest Garden sites, minimize wind and erosion, and provide them with useful tree products like fuelwood and livestock fodder. After participants’ Forest Garden sites are protected, and the soils revitalized, farmers will soon move on to the second phase of the project where they learn to diversify their sites with various fruit, timber, and vegetable crops.

We can’t thank you enough for your support to plant trees and change lives with our Ugandan farming families. 

Forest Garden farmers get new planting materials
Forest Garden farmers get new planting materials
A farmer learns to protect and grow her seedlings
A farmer learns to protect and grow her seedlings
Farmers learn new Forest Garden design techniques
Farmers learn new Forest Garden design techniques

Links:

Jun 7, 2016

Thank you for planting trees and changing lives in Tawa!

Farmers choose mango scions for grafting
Farmers choose mango scions for grafting

Trees for the Future will be phasing out the Tawa Forest Garden Project in July 2016. Through this project, your support has impacted 288 households, a total of 1,357 women, men and children. Over the past 18 months, participant farmers received intensive training that taught them to develop forest garden designs and to transform their fields into sustainable Forest Gardens. Your donations provided these families with the tools, planting materials, and skills training needed to raise trees from seed in nurseries, to graft high-quality fruit trees, and to plant a variety of tree species and vegetables to diversify their production, food options, and income opportunities.

At the onset of the long rains last October, project farmers planted 1200 mango trees and 1000 avocado trees in their fields. In March of 2015 farmers learned to graft fruit trees to produce bigger, more lucrative fruit crops in their Forest Gardens. This intensive training enabled farmers to plant an additional 400 grafted mango and 250 grafted avocado trees to compliment the local varieties already planted. With the knowledge and practice in grafting techniques, farmers now have the ability and experience to graft high-quality trees onto the existing local varieties they have planted to further improve the trees’ quality, productivity, and value.

In addition to the fruit trees, farmers also successfully planted more than 73,000 non-fruit trees in their fields, including fast-growing trees to protect and fertilize their land while providing an abundance of livestock fodder and fuel wood, as well as timber species that provide a long-term income source. They also received seeds and training to plant several kinds of vegetables which have provided an abundance of nutritious foods for families as their fruit and timber trees are maturing. Families have already benefitted from the healthier foods as well as the cash income generated from the sale of surplus vegetable produce. Testimony from one participant farmer below illustrates the impact made possible through your support:

"I am Benedita, member of Musunguu Self Help Group with the Tawa Forest Garden Project. My husband’s name is Peter, and we have three daughters – Mumbua (13 yrs), Mwongeli (10 yrs) and Nzilani (4 ½ yrs). The period between 2003 and 2014 was a difficult time for us, juggling family costs with the money my husband earned as a casual laborer in Athi River Mining Company, and the little that I got from working as a farm worker. Paying school fees and buying food and clothing or food staples was a challenge. We tried to also improve our farm yields during this time by buying a few tree seedlings, but the germination rates were low because of low-quality seed and little rain in the Tawa region. We managed to plant 70 trees on a half-acre plot toward the end of 2014. During that time, TREES staff visited our group and introduced the concept of the Forest Garden farming system.

For me and my family, this Project could not have come at a better time. After receiving training on Forest Garden analysis and design, tree and vegetable nursery establishment, outplanting, grafting, and composting, today I proudly boast 400 trees on my farm from the knowledge I have acquired. In addition to the trainings, we received equipment necessary for successfully nursing and managing the tree seedlings, including watering cans, rakes, shovels and machetes. And because our region is so dry, TREES provided thick plastic liners which we used to line deep troughs in strategic locations on the farm to collect and store as much rain water as possible to grow the seedlings through the long, dry season.

I used to spend two dollars each week buying vegetables for my family, but that is now a thing of the past. These days I grow my own vegetables and have managed to save over $40 so far, which we’ve used to help pay for our daughters’ school fees and medical care for our family as well as extended family. The variety of trees on my farm - Grevillea robusta, Senna siamea, Moringa oleifera, Markhamia lutea, Sesbania sesban, Leaucaena leucocephala, mangoes, avocados, and oranges – will also continue to help our family with fuelwood, fruit, and money.

We are grateful for having been able to participate in TREES’ Forest Garden Project and will continue to show our friends, family, and neighbors the benefits of this innovative farming system."

Trees for the Future would like to thank you for your participation in planting trees and changing lives for farming families in Tawa. Look for another project from Trees for the Future on GlobalGiving soon!

Most sincerely and with many thanks,
The Trees for the Future Team
Benedita waters her Forest Garden tree seedlings
Benedita waters her Forest Garden tree seedlings
Farmers learn to graft mangoes
Farmers learn to graft mangoes

Links:

 
   

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