We are proud to be partnering with Trees for the Future in Kenya to help reforest a country devastated by years of deforestation.
Agriculture dominates Kenya’s economy. 15–17% of Kenya’s total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed. The Kenyan government is currently working with public and private stakeholders to reach their target of 10% tree cover for the country – a large increase from the current 6.2%. Critical in meeting this goal is agroforestry. Our Forest Garden Projects will not only contribute to this massive landscape initiative, but help smallholder farming families improve sustainable farming practices and increase their food security.
Waiting to be planted
In Kenya, the rainforest is rapidly declining to the point where only two percent of the original forest cover now remains. Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, has some of the biggest reserves of forestland remaining in the country; however, much of that luscious land is turning into desert. In fact, one third of Mount Kenya’s trees have already been lost due to illegal activities such as timber harvesting and charcoal-burning. Since the forests also help to retain the mountain’s natural water, many of the rivers have seen a decrease in water volume over the last few years.
Local communities are suffering from the lack of farmland and a proper knowledge on how to farm sustainably. There are also conflicts over the lack of water. In the Horn of Africa, tens of millions of rural households rely heavily on forest products for food and income. These forests not only provide harvests, but everything from fruit to honey, gums, resin, and medicinal plants as well. The locals make money by collecting and selling these products and by gathering fallen trees for firewood or leaves and grass for fodder. Since Kenya’s economy is based on natural resources, there is a tremendous strain on what little land remains. The effects of famine and a growing national population are having a widespread negative impact.
Tentree is contributing to large forest restoration projects throughout central and western Kenya, in areas such as Mount Kenya and the Kakamega Forest National Reserve. Our partner on the ground is working with local communities, including women’s groups and trade schools, to educate about sustainable agriculture and agroforestry. Planting 100,000 trees can create anywhere from five to ten permanent jobs and 100 to 200 seasonal positions. In addition, the Kenyan government has also come up with a project called the “Greening School Initiative” which establishes tree nurseries in schools by allowing children to care for the seedlings.
We plant a wide variety of trees and plants using the forest garden model. A forest garden is a sustainable agroforestry system that fulfills economic, social, and cultural
needs of the individual owners and provides biological conservation, carbon sequestration, and
other valuable benefits to society. Agroforestry requires farmers to think both horizontally and vertically, and a forest garden is a perfect example of this. A forest garden goes by many names including permaculture, stacked polyculture, analog forestry and ‘the perfect acre.’ Ultimately, it is a production system that is harvesting products on over a dozen levels.
Known for their hardiness in dryland Africa, Acacia species are actually very diverse and are native to most regions around the world. Many of the popular agroforestry species are not thorny, though many Acacia species, especially those in Africa, have evolved thorns as a method of protecting themselves from browsing, and thereby conserving water.
Nursery Garden Management
The main reason for establishing a forest garden is that it allows people to sustainably meet their needs and produce a marketable surplus, by making maximum use of the land. It incorporates the symbiotic relationships among plants, animals and microbes and avoids the risk of economic dependence on one, or a very few, crops. Additionally, it allows nature to provide organic fertilizers and pest controls. Properly managed, it produces fruits and vegetables of far higher quality than those produced
Forest Garden Analysis and Design
There is a lot that goes into the design of a forest garden from the species of trees and plants to the location and proximity of windbreaks and living fences. TREES coordinators work with farmers to ensure that they are setting up their gardens for success.
Seedling Planting and Care
TREES coordinators and technicians will coordinate the project activities and partners in the field as well as monitor and support the lead farmers through technical assistance, administrative oversight, training and extension management and monitoring and evaluation processes.
Optimize Productivity and Profitability of their Land
Farmers are offered the opportunity to participate in the four-year Forest Garden project that provides comprehensive skills training, along with tree and vegetable seeds, planting materials, and tools. It is our goal, at the end of the four years, that each participating farmer establishes a Forest Garden that provides sustained cash income, food security, and enhanced natural resources including tree cover and fertile soil. Participants who volunteer to join the project are expected to contribute time to participate in training, land to plant the trees and labor to raise seedlings and establish and maintain their forest gardens.