Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

Karen Nicolas
haiti tree project update 2019

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Tomas, a couple whose unwavering commitment to reforestation is truly awe-inspiring. Their journey commenced in 2010, when they first approached me for assistance. The land they called home was nothing but a rocky, barren mountain devoid of any green cover. Despite their financial constraints, their eagerness to transform this barren land was palpable.

Presenting them with an unexpected offer, I proposed to provide them with trees. They accepted wholeheartedly, changing the course of their lives. Over the years, despite enduring two severe droughts, their desolate mountain was gradually filled with life. The land expanded beyond the confines of their house and they embraced every bit of this green transformation. From mangoes and grapefruits to hardwood trees, they accepted, planted, and nurtured them all. The former arid mountain became a beacon of hope and transformation in the village.

Mr. Tomas is one among many who choose the arduous journey of reforestation. These extraordinary individuals defy norms, trekking long distances to source water for their trees, even during periods of drought when others only carry water for drinking. One such relentless man created a lemon orchard on a barren mountain. Battling the tough conditions for the slow-growing lemon trees, he created shade for them using coconut leaves and religiously watered the plants every day. Today, he reaps the rewards of his resilient efforts through the fruits of these slow-producing trees, a rare commodity in the country with high demand and soaring prices.

Lamentably, not everyone mirrors the same commitment. While some take a few fruit trees and plant them around their homes, we have found that those handed out to doorsteps often perish. For reforestation to succeed, it requires the same vision shared by us and individuals like Mr. Tomas. Hence, we tirelessly visit numerous villages, educate them, distribute fruit trees during seminars, and through these efforts, we discover true champions of our cause. These exceptional individuals understand and cherish the vision of a greener future for all.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

All that was in Bedard, Cavaillon, Haiti was barren, land with bushes and very few trees in 2010 before we began planting. Here you see 5 sed trees that were planted with Forest Nation funding that are only a few years old here and quite large hardwoods.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

A handful of great reforesters standing with me in 3 years after we began.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

When we met this man high up on the mountain behind Bedard, he showed us his simple nursery. We shook his hand and gave him $50 and let him know that people all over the world are donating to help people like him.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

We always give seminars and distribute them to older kids in schools, so I’m sure some of the ForestNation trees went to schools too. After seminars in village churches people take home the trees we distribute like this or on donkey side saddles.

Typical village nursery that we fund. Since we began reforesting in 2010, funding in certain areas comes and goes and people get used to having trees to plant and then suddenly they don’t.. This has caused frustration but also self-reliance or a culture of tree planting across the region where many villages organize themselves to grow trees like in the picture above. It really only requires some shared tools, manual labor and 1 penny per bag. Once people see what they are missing when we leave, they make it happen on their own and that is our mission in the Haiti Tree Project. Meanwhile, of course, we are starting the same initiatives in other villages.

We went to a village where this man took us to his home to show us his lemon tree grafting. We now fund a community tree nursery there that he runs.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

This is our key PR person, pastor, agronomist and veteriarian, Jean Nerva Aladin. A very trustworthy guy who has handled our project since 2011 while I raise my family in the US. When we have built up funding he and I travel all around the villages near Les Cayes going to places he knows to be prime location for reforesting. I meet the people during seminars/tree distributions and then I leave while he continues the work.

Restoring the Culture of Tree Planting in Haiti

This is Ti Pierre and me. He is the true actionaire that grows trees by the hundreds every month on his land in La Sucrerie. He plants with out pay, just plants and plants and plants and somehow finds others to help him. He does it out of love for Haiti. He has supplies, tools from my previous funding , gets seeds off of trees. People take his trees home for free and he is dirt poor and just scrapes by somehow like most Haitians. He calls me constantly telling me about other communities that need trees and he can’t get them there. Years ago when we got funding from ForestNation, it was only Ti Pierre that came from his village 20 minutes away with a volunteered truck after a hurricane and dug up all our seedlings that had been washed away in floods out of the canal and took them back to the people of LaSucrerie. So that’s all I am thinking to share for now. Look forward to a good time working together.

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Karen Nicolas
Karen Nicolas has been leading reforestation efforts in Haiti since 2010. Her passion for reforestation grew from a desire to help people meet their basic needs in a sustainable way. As a lover of travel and adventure she grew a career out of working in relief efforts after natural disasters which led her to spending years in Haiti where she felt she could make the most difference.

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