Earth Today | Trees That Feed donates to tree planting initiative
THE TREES That Feed Foundation has donated 8,000 fruit and food tree seedlings in support of the National Tree Planting Initiative (NTPI), which aims to plant three million trees in three years.
Principal Director of Forest Operations at the Forestry Department, Jerome Smith, said the agency welcomes the donation, noting that it will go towards satisfying the increased demand for fruit seedlings under the programme.
“Many of the requests that we have been receiving under the programme are for fruit seedlings, and the agency could not satisfy the demand. This partnership has given us the ability to increase the offerings of fruit seedlings under the initiative, which include species that we do not currently produce, such as mango and breadfruit,” he noted.
Co-founder of Trees That Feed Foundation Mike McLaughlin said the partnership was a natural progression following a meeting with CEO and Conservator of Forests Ainsley Henry, as the goals of the two entities aligned well.
“Initially, we were under the impression that the Forestry Department only plants timber trees. At Trees That Feed Foundation, we’re passionate about fruit trees, but when Bindley Sangster with the Ministry of Agriculture suggested that we meet with Ainsley Henry, we did. It is important to us that the Forestry Department has a capable staff who can follow up on the trees planted and ensure survivability, and we were pleased with the discussions,” he shared.
McLaughlin said that the foundation will continue to give the Forestry Department as many fruit trees as they can. Towards that goal, the two entities have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate increased partnership in various activities, and to allow the agency to become a distribution partner for the Trees That Feed Foundation.
“The foundation distributes seedlings through partner nurseries and the Forestry Department will become one of those partners. How it works is that persons get a certificate from the Trees That Feed Foundation to go to partner nurseries for collection and very soon, persons with certificates from the foundation will be able to visit our three nurseries in St Andrew, St Ann, and Manchester to collect,” Smith said.
The foundation is not only bolstering the agency’s distribution efforts, but has donated 2,500 copies of its children’s colouring book, Plant A Tree and Good Things Happen, to be distributed as part of the public education programme of the agency. The educational publication highlights how planting trees affects the air, the environment, animals, people, and jobs.
Mary McLaughlin, co-founder of Trees That Feed Foundation, said the inspiration for the book came when the group was planting fruit trees at schools in Haiti, and they realised that the students only had books that stayed at school, but nothing to take home.
“We wanted to inspire the children to love trees and thought it would be best accomplished if they helped create a book and owned it. Once they take the activity book home to their parents, we’re influencing the adults, too. When people learn the value of trees, they become dedicated caretakers of them,” she said.
To bolster efforts under the NTPI, the agency has also set up two temporary satellite distribution points at its offices in Folly, Portland, and Catherine Hall, St James, to make seedlings more accessible to the public. However, because there are no shade houses at these locations, the agency is asking people who wish to collect seedlings from these locations to send orders to email@example.com and allow time for the seedlings to be transported before visiting for collection. For more information, call 876-618-3205, or visit www.forestry.gov.jm for seedling availability.