A month ago, Ryan was given a class assignment. The assignment was to make a difference in the community. When he came home and was talking about it we spent some time brainstorming when he started talking about the environment in Malawi. It was then he hit upon the idea of planting trees in Gusu to help with deforestation and by planting fruit trees it would help the village both nutritionally and economically through better nutrition and possible sales of the fruit. The trees would also be part of an overall goal for E3 to reforest Gusu since deforestation is a major problem in Malawi.
Today was the day to put that plan in action. The morning started off doubtful because of heavy rains overnight. But since Sam showed up ready to go we decided to take the chance that we would make it through the mud road.
Our first stop was at a small village tree farm. Over the last few months I had been stopping by the side of the road at a vegetable stand on the way to Gusu where they sell veggies and, as luck would have it, tree seedlings. When I first started buying trees a few years ago the place I was buying them was located in Lilongwe and the price per tree was around $2. After dealing with the local seller on the side of the road for a while we were able to negotiate a sales price of about .30c. Today he was quite happy because we bought 130 trees from him; 50 orange, 50 tangerine, and 30 guava.
After loading the truck with the trees with the help of most of the village children we were off to Gusu. The rain was steady and the mud deep but we made it to our destination. How our little two wheel drive truck makes it through these roads is beyond me but I am thankful it does. We have only been seriously stuck two times this year and I am thankful the count is so low. I digress.
Because the rain was so heavy we were not able to get as many people in the village to help plant today. Usually we are able to recruit a bunch of people but everyone was in their homes out of the rain. That didn’t detour Ryan, Dennis, and Neveson from completing the mission of at least getting a tree planted.
As you may recall, Dennis is our agriculture manager for E3 in Gusu so he took charge of getting the truck unloaded and then showed Ryan where he wanted the trees planted. Dennis is creating a couple of different orchards; one in the zone 5 permaculture area at the top of the hill and a small one around the leech pit for the composting toilet. Today he wanted the trees planted above the leech pit between the composting toilet building. The trees are fruit trees so we wanted them a bit away from the pit while the pit area is reserved for the trees planted for sustainable wood harvesting.
Not to be left out, Neveson grabbed a hoe and dug the hole and then Ryan planted the tree with Dennis looking on. All three were soaked by the time they were done but in good Malawian style they had fun with smiles on their faces.
Dennis has started over 1000 papaya trees in small pots that are doing well and ready for transplant. He also has several hundred moringa and other trees ready to go. When the weather gets a little better Ryan will head back out with us to plant the ones we brought today plus some of the ones Dennis has ready to go. Our goal over time is to plant several thousand trees on the E3 site and then all around the village. In a few years we hope a thriving tree forest will cohabitate along side the maize fields. Only time will tell but with help from people like Ryan who want to protect and rehabilitate the environment success is inevitable.