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Frequently Asked Questions

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Trees for the Future 101

  • A Forest Garden is a combination of trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables, and grains, strategically planted to support one another, the land, and farmers.

    Forest Gardens are agroforestry systems that incorporate trees to protect the land, improve the soil, and increase harvests. As opposed to the common approach to agriculture known as monocropping (planting and harvesting one crop), Forest Gardens are home to a diverse array of species, including food, resource, and medicinal crops – allowing a farming family to improve their nutrition and stabilize their income.

    Lastly, Forest Gardens optimize space used in an area and increase the quality and frequency of harvests so that the farmer can get the most out of their land and the growing seasons.

  • We were founded in 1989.

    Trees for the Future was founded in August 1989 by Dave and Grace Deppner. TREES has over 30 years of experience working with impoverished communities to improve their land and lives through regenerative agriculture. Our global team of passionate change-makers has vast experience in international development and agroforestry, which enables us to provide the highest quality training and support to the communities we serve.

  • Trees are magnificent organisms that can help combat the negative effects of climate change. Trees provide oxygen, habitats, food, fuelwood, animal fodder, and much more.

    Forest Gardens take advantage of all of those benefits to sustainably revitalize degraded land and improve the lives of farming families. Through our Forest Garden Approach, we’ve proven that the integration of trees into agriculture and landscapes can help farmers transform their degraded soils into fertile land, increase water penetration into underground aquifers, prevent wind and soil erosion, and trap moisture and nutrients in the soils so that crops can thrive.

  • There is a direct link between poverty and deforestation throughout the developing world. When trees disappear from a landscape, so does moisture and soil. Farmable land vanishes, opportunity disappears, and farming families are left with nothing.

    Planting trees can effectively end hunger and poverty by improving land quality and productivity so farmers have a sustainable source of food and income.

  • Farmers are growing a variety of trees and produce in their Forest Gardens. It all depends on the location and the farmer’s needs.

  • Farmers have been sharing and embracing techniques over generations. It’s easy to understand why a new approach may feel too risky. That’s why we employ local staff who understand the culture and speak the local language and who can explain the benefits and opportunity that the Forest Garden offers.

    We spend months working with farmer groups and local officials to understand receptiveness and any potential challenges before we begin working in a new region. Once a farmer signs up for the program, local staff members work directly with farmers to train them, distribute materials, and provide onsite consultation. Because of the training-intensive nature of the program, once farmers graduate, they have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to succeed without TREES.

  • Our signature Forest Garden training program lasts four years. We guide farmers through a series of steps to transform their field: Protection, Diversification, Optimization.

    At the end of the four years, farmers have designed, established, managed and optimized their Forest Gardens and we celebrate with a graduation ceremony. When farmers complete their training and graduate, they are Forest Garden experts in their own right. While their formal training ends with graduation, many graduates remain involved with TREES. Many sign up for our Plant it Forward program, providing training and guidance to neighboring farmers and expanding our impact even further. Some of the TREES training staff are former beneficiaries of the program too!

  • The farmers.

    Program participants (farmers) own their land and everything on it.

    With the support of our donors, we provide expert agroforestry training, seeds, and tools while farmers provide their own land and entrepreneurial spirit to effectively implement the Forest Garden Approach.

  • No, we do not pay farmers.

    Trees for the Future does not pay farmers to participate in the Forest Garden Training Program. We provide in-kind training, seeds, materials, and tools to program participants. The Forest Garden Approach is a significantly different way of farming and we understand that in order for farmers to take the leap to join the program, we can encourage them with training and materials. We do not pay farmers to join the program because it can create the wrong incentive for them to plant trees and care for their land.

  • Drones, robots, or AI technology are not effective tools for tree planting. While we like the idea of dropping seeds over a field and watching a forest effortlessly appear, that isn’t what happens in reality.

    In barren, nutrient-sparse regions in need of reforestation, a tree seed needs care and attention if it’s going to grow into a mature tree. A machine could plant the seed, but it can’t nurture the seedling. A Forest Garden farmer has a vested interest in the success of every tree planted on their land, they make sure that seedling makes it to maturity. When humans connect with trees, a connection to nature forms, this relationship goes beyond what any machine could do.

    Even if drones could plant millions of trees with a low mortality rate, we still wouldn’t be solving the root problem. The way farmers grow food is detrimental to our land and planet. As long as farmers and Big Ag companies focus on clearing land and growing swathes of monoculture crops, mass tree planting efforts will be in vain.

  • Carbon sequestration is a natural process in which organic matter (trees, plants, soil) takes in carbon dioxide and stores the carbon. Trees and organic matter are naturally built to store carbon over many years. Because the trees Forest Garden farmers are planting remain on the land for generations, our approach supports long-term carbon sequestration.

    We are currently working on our carbon verification through VERRA.

  • Right now, we have projects in Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. In our 30+ years, we have worked all around the globe. We currently offer remote training to anyone who needs it through our Forest Garden Training Center.

  • We’ve worked in more than 60 countries around the globe, but despite all the good we were doing, it was difficult to measure the impact and capture the data we needed to change minds and behavior.

    We decided to focus our work in sub-Saharan Africa because of the climate, the need, and the potential. Farming families in semi-arid Africa are living in hunger and poverty and they are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. By working with these farmers and measuring the improvements of their land and livelihoods, we are proving that the Forest Garden Approach, agroforestry, and permaculture are promising solutions to hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation.

    While our offices and staff are in sub-Saharan Africa, we are currently reaching farmers and international development actors around the world through our online Forest Garden Training Center. Our goal is to make this proven solution available to everyone.

Technical Resources

  • Our Forest Garden Training Center is available online and through a mobile app and all the resources and training materials are free and open to the public. Visit the training center to learn more.

  • Water is a necessity in farming and in tree planting. We make sure that there is available water before starting a new project and we work with the local community to improve farmer access to water sources.

    Water is the leading barrier to farmer success in the countries where we work, but that is exactly why we work there. Semi-arid regions like sub-Saharan Africa are losing tree cover at an alarming rate and when that happens the water dries up too. If we can repair the tree cover and soil structure in these regions, the rain can make its way to wells and aquifers below ground and the ecosystem will work as it is meant to.

  • Agroforestry means we’re integrating trees into farming practices. Agro (agriculture) + Forestry (forests/trees) = Agroforestry. An orchard of, say, mango trees is not considered agroforestry. In agroforestry, we plant trees and other crops close to one another so that the crops can benefit from the tree, whether that’s through shade, protection from the wind, or the increased moisture in the ground and air.

    Permaculture should be the ultimate goal of every farmer. Perma (permanent) + Culture (agriculture) = Permaculture. Permaculture is a system of agriculture that allows the land and farmer to produce food and resources year round and often incorporates perennial crops (plants that come back year after year). Permaculture also relies on the natural processes of the land, allowing the farm or garden to care of itself to some degree.

    Regenerative agriculture focuses on the health of the land and soil. Regenerative agriculture is becoming increasingly popular because our planet’s soil is disappearing at an alarming rate. Through regenerative practices, we can rebuild our soil as well as the natural (and very important) flora and fauna.

  • Our expertise is in agroforestry, but we’re doing so much more than planting trees. Through the Forest Garden Approach, we’re able to achieve many important humanitarian and environmental goals. Farming families in our program are able to improve nutrition, income, and education. We’re improving water access and helping to connect communities to market opportunities. The trees planted through our approach are helping the environment, and they’re helping to mitigate the current climate challenges farmers are facing.

    Agroforestry has a very important place in international development work, so we partner with other organizations to ensure that they’re getting the most out of this solution too. We work with organizations dedicated to water access, education, hunger alleviation and more.

  • Great! Please reach out to us We look forward to hearing from you.

Financials and Funding Information

  • We’re glad you are taking the time to research where you donate.

    Trees for Future is a top-rated, award-winning organization. We are regularly reviewed and rated by the world’s leading charity watchdog groups. As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, we undergo an annual independent audit and all of our audited financial reports are available to the public.

  • When you donate to Trees for the Future, you’re doing more than planting trees. You’re helping our team provide world-class agroforestry training, supplying necessary training materials, seeds, tools and biodegradable tree sacks. Your donation holistically supports our mission to end hunger, poverty and deforestation. We work diligently to ensure that every possible cent goes towards the efficacy of our programs.

  • Thank you for asking about our financials. You can find them at the link below. Looking for more? Send us an email at and we’d be happy to help.

  • The majority of our funding comes from our brand partners, these range from small, family-owned businesses to large corporate companies.

    The support we receive from socially and environmentally conscious individuals is rapidly growing.

    We also receive funding from foundations and government organizations.

  • Companies that fund us are vetted. Check out our corporate partners page for more information on companies that support our mission.


  • Thank you so much for your support!
    Follow the link below to learn more about ways you can donate to Trees for the Future.
  • Thank you for considering donating to TREES as a business. Follow the link below to learn more about our partnership options.

  • Yes!

    Donating cryptocurrency is a non-taxable event, meaning you do not owe capital gains tax on the appreciated amount and can deduct it on your taxes. This makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency donations one of the most tax-efficient ways to support your favorite cause. Learn more below.

  • Thank you for your interest in fundraising for our organization. Visit the link below for more information on how to get started.

  • Thank you! We partner with a program called Double the Donation to set up employer matching.

  • Yes!
    Click below to make a donation in someone’s honor. We will send you a certificate in their honor.
  • Thank you so much! We would love to have your NFT involved with Trees for the Future.

  • Thank you for supporting our mission. If you prefer to give through PayPal, you can donate through our PayPal Giving Fund.

  • As a supporter, you can manage your recurring donation by logging into your Classy account. Please follow these instructions to do so:

    1. Open your Supporter Page
    2. Sign into your Classy account
    3. Navigate to the Recurring Donations section
    4. Select Edit Donation under the recurring donation you want to edit
    5. Edit Recurring Donation

    From here, you can edit the credit card information and the billing address for your recurring donation. Make sure to click Save to update your donation information.

    If you need additional support, please contact

  • If you live outside of the U.S. and are interested in donating to TREES, the easiest way for you to donate will be through a wire transfer.

    If you attempted to make a donation through our donation platform and your bank’s currency is not in U.S. dollars, it is possible that your bank has tagged the payment as fraudulent. We’d recommend contacting your bank to verify that the payment was intentional and legitimate, and then try the process again. If you have any further questions, please email us at

  • We appreciate your support! For more information about your donation, please contact and someone will get back to you within 2 business days.

Other Ways to Get Involved

  • We appreciate your interest in lending a hand. Remember, our program is farmer-focused. Staff are working with farmers on rural farmlands in the developing world, so hands-on volunteering opportunities are not a regular occurrence here at TREES.

    We encourage you to volunteer your time and energy as a TREES Ambassador or by hosting a fundraiser. Visit the page below to find out more.

  • We do not often offer site visits because of the resources and staff capacity they require. We work in very rural areas with staff that are working with farmers every day, often 4-10 hours from an airport. Thus being said, we do offer site visits on a case by case basis. Field visitors are responsible for all costs.

  • Thank you for your interest in becoming a brand ambassador. Please visit our ambassador page for more information and to fill out a short form to sign up. Once you submit your request, we’ll be in touch within 2 business days.

  • Whether you are a teacher looking for more lesson material or a student working on (what will be an amazing) report, we have a plethora of resources available to you. You may want to start with our short documentary. If you’re looking for technical information about agroforestry, visit the training site. You can also pull information from our blogs. If you need additional information or need to ask us a few questions, please contact and we will support you in this endeavor.

  • Thank you so much! Please contact us at

  • We are so glad you want to join our team and change the world!

    Learn more on our careers page below.

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