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
Oct 20, 2020

A More Sustainable Refugee Camp is Possible

Refugee in their garden, with trees
Refugee in their garden, with trees

Hi friends,

Greetings from Northern Uganda, currenrtly home to over 1 million refugees from South Sudan. When refugee influxes happen, they happen fast, and organizations' priorities are focused on basic needs: registration, shelter, food and medicine. But with sharp influx of population levels and concentrations we also see rapid degradation of natural ecosystems, deforestation and a shift in forest resource management. 

If you talk to any of these refugees, they'll be the first to say that they want to help to protect the environment, because they understand intimately that their livelihood depends upon it. But with relief organizations only factoring in basic needs and doing the necessary triage that occurs with a refugee crisis, issues of sustainability aren't adequately addressed. That's where we come in. 

In 2017 we saw firsthand this need. We saw refugees trying to establish their new lives in these refugee camps, and the way that their livelihood–trees for firewood and trees for construction and cleared land for agricultural cultivation–led to the rapid decline of tree cover. We saw a challenge and a solution. 

Today, we work collaboratively with refugee communities to better manage their forest resources. We plant trees with them, in strategic ways, to both mitigate further forest loss while also helping them to better meet their own needs, and lead more thriving and resilient lives. 

To date, we've planted nearly 200,000 trees with 120,000 refugees, and have begun a major rollout of getting more fuel-efficient cookstoves to refugee households to further conserve the forest that surrounds them. 

And we're not stopping. Right now, we're in the process of working on some pretty neat plans to really scale our work through collaborating with more organizaitons, more partners, and more refugees. We are the proof that sustainability can be factored into refugee service delivery, and we plan to continue to build sustainability into the lives of refugees. 

But, to do this work, we need the support of people like you. Thank you for believing in us and financially giving to our cause. Because of it, you are helping to ensure that refugee families have access to sustainable energy sources and nutrition, while also halting the effects of climate change and desertification in its tracks. 

We'll hope you'll continue supporting us. 


the WildFF team

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