There are just four trees remaining before Christmas! That is the number of trees remaining in our agroforestry advent calendar. Everyday since the 1st December, we’ve profiled a different species of tree planted and loved by farmers in Kenya. From fruit to soil improvement, shade to fodder, the trees in our advent calendar are all treasured for their benefits to farmers in Kenya, and further afield. You can see the entire calendar here.
So what is the story behind the idea?
For years, we’ve been profiling important trees that are used in our projects around the world, as well as here in the UK. All of our projects involve tree planting, and we wanted to show the connection between people and their trees.
The advent calendar showcases a number trees you may have never heard of, such as the tree tomato, which bears a fruit that resembles a tomato but has a sharp, sweet taste. Other important species are included which are less well established on smallholder farms in Kenya. These include the Iroko tree, which is an endangered species today. Iroko can be used in agroforesty to provide shade to crops, soil conservation and leaf mulch.
In November, Paul, our Programmes Manager, visited Kenya where ITF partner Mount Kenya Environmental Conservationists (MKEC) are coordinating the first phase of the 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests campaign. MKEC are raising seedlings in community tree nurseries, and will be training and providing the seedlings to local farmers in the area.
They will be showing the local communities how to integrate agroforestry systems into their current farming methods. Agroforestry is a system of agriculture where a variety of different trees are used together to provide many different benefits to the farmer. Agroforestry is gaining popularity in Eastern African countries where food security is at risk, because systems incorporating trees are much less vulnerable to weather extremes than traditional agriculture and horticulture.
Whilst in Kenya, Paul met one of the women who wants to become involved in the initiative, Esther Nyaga. She explains why she wants to plant more trees in a video shot on her tea farm. We are raising money over the festive season to help Esther and farmers in her village plant 20,000 trees. You can visit the campaign and make a donation here.
You can find out more about agroforestry here.