Jun 16, 2021

Expanding our work to transform refugee camps

team planning outreach with COVID protocols
team planning outreach with COVID protocols

To our supporters,

We are thrilled to announce some big developments for our work in Palorinya Refugee Settlement. But to start, let me tell you about what the team on the ground has been up to the past few months.

We've continued to produce seedlings and distribute them to the 120,000 South Sudanese refugees that call Palorinya home. Despite COVID and all the roadblocks it's subsequently caused, our team has managed to get 50,000 seedlings into the hands of refugee households over the past 2 months. As always, these seedlings are produced and distributed strategically: our team always taking into account the very real needs of the refugees receiving them. These 50,000 seedlings will provide nutrition and sustainable sources of firewood for the refugees planting them, while also contributing to the stabilizing of climate patterns in the region. Healthy soils mean healthy food, and that's what our tree planting activities are aimed at. 

Our grassroots network of environmentally-trained refugees continue to work hard, acting as community liaison between our team and the families that make up their respective neighborhoods. Without these dedicated individuals, our tree planting efforts wouldn't be nearly as effective, as they follow up with their neighbors who have received seedlings to ensure they have the support they need to keep them alive. 

So that's what we've been up to, thanks to generous supporters like you. Now, onto the big news for our coming year:

We recently became partners with One Tree Planted, a great organization that is helping to get millions of trees in the ground around the world. Through their support, we will be expanding our work in Palorinya and launching a new system. 

This system will allow us to not only plant more trees with refugees to ensure the ongoing stability of their landscape, but also address and transform the root causes of desforestation in Uganda: fuelwood and charcoal. 

Our system is holistic and incremental, working with four beneficiary groups: refugee farmers, refugee households, women's groups, and traditional charcoal producers. Through it, over the next year, we will be planting 149,000 trees and restoring 120 acres (48.6 hectares) of deforested and degraded land, with an additional 74,300 trees planted in mosaic landscape restoration throughout the settlement site. 

These are big goals with an even bigger impact. As we continue to gear up for this expansion with additional staff hire, refugee mobilization and tree production, we will be sure to give you even more details of what this project looks like, and how it works. But for now, we want to give you a little teaser that will give you something to celebrate today. 

All of this wouldn't be possible without you all supporting us from day one, and your continued support. Even with partners helping us to expand our work, we need individuals like you to help build the groundswell of transforming refugee camps into pillars of sustainability. 

Our world depends on it. 

seedlings being distributed!
seedlings being distributed!
Our team excited about the future
Our team excited about the future
Feb 12, 2021

Planting Season is Near in Palorinya

Greetings from Palorinya Refugee Settlement!

February marks the height of the dry season here in northern Uganda, a time where the soil is parched and farmers are beginning to think about the upcoming planting season. This year, in alignment with growing trends of climate change, dry season has been a little wonky. A bit of rain arrived in early January, a strange and unexpected arrival of that life-giving nutrient from the sky. It didn't last long of course, and the dry season quickly returned. However, that brief bit of rain in January was further validation of what refugees and farmers alike are coming to know as truth here in Uganda: that weather patterns are changing fast, making the arrival of the necessary rains to have healthy crops hard to predict. These irregular variations in rain–too much, too little, arriving and dissapearing at unexpected times–is one of the greatest indicators of climate change in the tropics. 

This is why getting trees into the ground is so important. You see, strategic tree planting is arguably the best tool in the tool box that small-scale farmers and refugees with little resources have against the onslaught of climate change. To put in the simplest terms, trees help create microclimates that regulate rain patterns, which in terms guarantees healthy crops, which in turn guarantees happy and full bellies for the families that steward the land. 

After three successful years of piloting our innovative agroforestry systems with refugees at the household level, we are ready to scale up. We've created a grassroots network of 275 refugees with educational expertise in tree seedling care and management, as well as basic principles in climate change adaptation. Our tree nursery is bubbling with activity, and has become a fixture of the community over the past few years. And, the 200,000 seedlings we've planted, household to household, are now turning into mature trees. Now, it's time to build out this foundation to create big change. 

We have plans this year to shift from small-scale planting with households to mobilizing refugee farmer groups to plant trees by the acre. By working with our team on the ground, we've developed a strategy of a unique agroforestry system whereby hundreds of acres of staple crops can be grown alongside 1,000 trees per acre, that will be planted with the tree seedlings. Long-term, this will mean healthy soils and increased crop yields, while restoring hundreds of acreas of landscape with all the benefits that trees provide.

But to be able to have the biggest impact possible, we need your help. Every $25 you donate is another refugee farmer we can work with, to reforest the region, increase food security, and contribute to the long-term ecological integrity of northern Uganda. We have a goal of working with 2,000 refugee farmers this year. We're galvanizing grants and finding fundraising opportunities to make this dream a reality, and we want to ask you to join us in those efforts. If you can mobilize 10 of your friends to give $25 each, we will have raised $250 together. If 50 of you all do that, we will have raised $12,500: a good start to get this scaling up off the ground. In this time of COVID, realities are strange and uncertain, and having get togethers with friends seem like a distant reality. But, perhaps in the spirit of COVID, you can host a 'virtual' zoom potluck, and by saving the money from all going out to dinner together at a restaurant, that money can go to help the 120,000 refugees that call Palorinya home, who are awaiting the next planting season in hopes that they'll have enough food on their table this year. 

If we've learned anything in the past year, it's that we truly are all in this together. Let's make it good. 

From our dry and hot landscape to wherever you call home,

The Native Seeds Project team

Oct 30, 2020

Healthy Farms & Forests Mean Healthy People

Women caring for future trees
Women caring for future trees

Greetings from Northern Uganda, where the seasons are changing from harvest-time to dry season. During the coming months, the people of Northern Uganda will be taking a break from their farmlands, as harvest time is coming to a close. 

 But this doesn’t mean it's time to be idle. Our team in Northern Uganda are still following up with farmers to make sure the trees we’ve planted are growing well. Meetings with communities are going on, to discuss how farmers have seen their farmlands more abundant by the trees we’ve planted with them, what we could do differently, and what our plan for the following year is. 

 Our team is hard at work prepping a work plan for the coming year. We’ve been discussing a lot of new ideas that we’re excited about. We’ve been planting trees with about 1,000 farmers for the past four years; trees that mimic the forests that used to be, trees that restore the soil and make farmlands more productive, trees that provide natural medicine for communities, and trees that provide fruit and other useful nutrients to keep people healthy. Trees, we’ve learned, are integral to not just a healthy landscape, but a healthy community. 

Now, we’re looking forward to ensure that the trees we’ve planted survive well into the future. Our colleague has been working to develop an app for a smart phone that will allow farmers to upload photos of their trees, and from there, provide direct metrics in real time to monitor the trees’ growth. This ‘tree tool’ will allow us to have total transparency in allowing us to see our impact. We know that getting trees into the ground is one thing, but ensuring they grow into mature, healthy trees is another. 

Keep on the lookout next year for photos of the trees we’ve planted with farmers. Together, with your help, we can ensure that we keep these trees alive, keep soils happy and healthy for the communities that depend on them, and do our part to combat climate change on large scale.

From Northern Uganda to you,

The Native Seeds Project team

Farmers gathering during harvest time
Farmers gathering during harvest time
Community members ready to work!
Community members ready to work!
A healthy landscape, thanks to your help
A healthy landscape, thanks to your help
 
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