Trees for the Future is working to end hunger and poverty for small holder farmers through revitalizing degraded lands.
The Forest Garden Program is a simple, replicable and scalable approach with proven success. By planting specific types of fast-growing trees, fruit trees, hardwoods and food crops in a systematic manner over a four year period, families can positively change their lives forever. Forest Gardens consist of thousands of trees that provide families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuel wood and a 400% increase in their annual income in four years.
We can help families escape extreme poverty if they only knew how to transform their lands into Forest Gardens. To build global awareness of our solution we aim to lift a million people out of poverty using the Forest Garden Approach. This initial goal will require working with 125,000 impoverished families to plant 500 million trees.
Take a look at where we are now. View our latest impact report.
How we work
We identify a group of farmers—typically 300 families at a time —who have both a great need for assistance and a high likelihood of success. Farmers provide the land, labor, and water; a powerful, entrepreneurial determination; and an inspiring sense of ownership. TREES provides training, mentoring, seeds, and nursery supplies with each family. We guide the large groups of farmers through the process of using trees to protect, diversify, and eventually optimize their crop land. We continue working with farmers for the four years it takes to fully establish the Forest Garden, offering ongoing coaching and regular site visits.
TREES Forest Garden Project methodology follows a phased approach that begins with mobilizing resources and stakeholders, then guides farmers through a series of steps, over the course of up to four years, through which they learn to design, establish, and manage their Forest Gardens before graduating from the program. The five-phase approach includes:
Phase I: Mobilization – In the first phase of the approach we hire project staff and meet with relevant stakeholders (government reps, community leaders, and potential partners) to solicit their support and formalize the project. With the help of stakeholders we identify interested farmer groups, lead farmers, and participants, and host orientation workshops prior to pursuing training and extension activities.
Phase II: Protection – Phase II through IV comprise the phases of Forest Garden establishment. In the protection phase we provide farmers with the skills and resources needed to protect their forest garden sites. Farmers achieve this by planting green walls – an enhanced version of a living fence that we have developed – around the perimeters of their sites. They then plant fast-growing fertilizer trees throughout their sites, often in alleys among their crops, to further stabilize their soils and enhance fertility.
Phase III: Diversification – As the green walls grow and soils become increasingly fertile, farmers begin to diversify the products they grow in their Forest Gardens. During this phase, farmers plant higher-value vegetables, fruit, nut, and timber trees. They also learn increasingly advanced skills and techniques that will help them manage their Forest Gardens more effectively and sustainably.
Phase IV: Optimization – In the fourth phase, farmers will learn to adopt advanced Forest Garden planting and care, integrated pest management, and conservation techniques that optimize and ensure the long-term health, productivity, and profitability of their land.
Phase V: Graduation – The fifth and final phase of TREES Forest Garden approach consists of transitioning ownership of the project to the farmer groups to continue supporting each other as a team in the on-going development and management of their Forest Gardens and marketing of products. Projects are concluded with a graduation ceremony during which we recognize the efforts and accomplishments of farmers, staff, and other stakeholders, and present farmers who have completed the program with Master Forest Gardener Certification.
"I get more from my two acre Forest Garden than I could get from six acres of peanut crop. My sons have a future now, and as I age, trees will continue to feed my family."
"Before planting trees, I had no money and I had no purpose.”