THEY say you need to plant a tree, sire a child and write a book.
How many of us have really planted a tree and watched it grow? I remember being gifted a Mahogany sapling at a friend’s birthday party and I casually told my staff to plant it on the side of a track home my friends and I invested in. Before I knew it, the tree was taller than the house and I feared its roots would eventually go through the narrow pathway between the perimeter fence and the little building of a house. I eventually sold the property and said goodbye to the tree which probably now shades the abode of some lucky family who did not have to plant it.
I grew up on a small property but we planted santol, mango, kamias and even a tall eucalyptus tree. It was one of those homes in the 1960s which had a space for everything—dogs, cats, even a monkey and a turkey at one point. We had a small poultry or chicken coop to get eggs from and at one point even had two swines who I never named as my mother would take them somewhere when they got bigger and I never had time to befriend them. But I loved the tree—we could smoke the mango tree from our compost pile, we climbed the santol tree at times.
Our parents also had a little farm called Paradise Farms in a faraway place they called Novaliches (it is not so far away anymore) and where our mother planted santol trees and she would dabble (I guess) in organic farming then. I must have been only seven years old.
When I got older we started an annual tree planting activity to save the Barako (a coffee variety facing extinction). Then, I got exposed to really preparing the saplings, removing the plastic bags before placing the seedling in the hole and then covering them with enough earth after. We briefed all volunteers to do it properly. The holes were dug previous to the activity as digging the holes is the most difficult part of tree planting. First, in determining the spaces between holes and in making sure the depth and width of such a hole is perfect for the tree variety. We must have planted a thousand or more trees a year(for seven years) which I am happy to say are already productive and fruiting well. And probably contributes a few hundred kilos to our annual coffee production.
Last week I read in the news about the failure of the National Greening Program. Such a big waste if what I read is all true. P7 billion gone bad. We only need P25 to P50 per sapling or seedling. We only need so much to dig holes and maybe a peso or two to water the trees. In the age of El Niño, you need to watch the trees when the earth is so dry. But for a national program, we must try and do it again and not just cry over what has disappeared into thin air.
What’s the secret to a greening program or a simple tree planting activity? Leave it to the experienced ones. I see so much volunteerism but there are no reports on what happens to the trees after a year or even six months. Now, with geotagging and technology, we can find that tree anytime anywhere, if we have the details of its coordinates.
Whether for personal fulfillment, an advocacy, a CSR activity or a country’s greening program, the same rules apply. Choose the tree variety well. Choose the land to make sure the soil is healthy. Watch over it until it grows. Secure it from poachers and bad elements. Start small and soon you can see a forest.
Like for my favorite tree which is coffee, talk to the experts. Look at different varieties planted in different farms with the right elevation. The Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) will be holding the 8th National Coffee Summit in Davao City this October 22 at SMX Lanang. Talk to the experts who will be there for coffee. We need to produce a million more tress to stave off our coffee imports. Email us at email@example.com to reserve a seat or two.
It’s never too late to plant a tree to write a book and to sire a child. Do it today!
* * *
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao and Cebu City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org