Given the tumult of the past 12 months, a Christmas gift of socks and chocolates might not be enough this year. For a meaningful gift, consider planting a tree that contributes to the livelihood of a small farmer. From mango to markhamia, we discovered five species that produce more than just ripe fruit
It’s been a year. Pandemics, elections, upheaval. Somehow a gift that does the world some good seems like a good decision this holiday season.
Consider a tree. It absorbs CO2, purifies the air, is durable and in the case of trees planted by Treedom, beneficial to small farmers and local biodiversity. You can choose from a variety of species to give as gifts, many of which support farmers’ livelihoods through the fruits or nuts they produce. As an added bonus for your recipient, the trees are geolocated and photos are provided so they can watch your little sapling mature and bloom.
Here, we select five varieties of trees available through Treedom, which could be a fruitful gift this year.
A box of chocolates could be gone in a matter of days. A cacao tree, on the other hand, can live 70 to 80 years and produce those coveted beans for up to 50, according to Martina Fondi, a spokesperson for Treedom, which plants cacao alongside fruit trees in Cameroon, Guatemala, Haiti and Colombia. . The reason for the accompanying planting? Cacao needs protection from the sun, so the larger trees, known as shade trees, provide practical cover. Treedom also practices agroforestry, which means that the trees are planted alongside other agricultural crops, with mutual benefits for both.
Herve Todem Ngnogue, Treedom’s project manager in Cameroon, says that the rainy season will come later than in the past, which means that the cocoa growing season is shortened. Cocoa prices are also subject to volatility, so growing other productive species alongside cocoa ensures that farmers have an income throughout the year. “We plant different species of fruit that bear fruit at different times, offering the possibility of sale and consumption throughout the year,” he says.
A farmer who harvests cocoa beans. Image: Treedom
Nothing better than a rich and hot coffee with milk foam on Christmas morning, or any other morning. A daily staple for many, the ubiquitous drink has deep and fascinating roots.
According to the writer Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, cafes in England in the 17th century were hotbeds of innovation, where people came together to discuss new ideas. Before the growth of the popularity of coffee in Europe, alcohol was the drink of choice that accompanied every meal of the day. After 1650, the so-called “Penny Universities” began to appear in England, so called because for the price of a penny, one could buy a coffee and have a stimulating conversation.
Another interesting fact about the tree itself is that, in Nepal, coffee trees financed through Treedom are sometimes planted at the end of terraced rows of other crops such as maize or rice, to provide an anchor on these graduated slopes. “It is a very specific solution that can protect against soil erosion,” says Fondi.
Coffee trees are a solution to soil erosion. Image: Treedom
Do you know any bee lovers? It is not a household name in the western world, Markhamia lutea’s flowers are a very good source of pollen and nectar for insects. “It’s a beautiful tree with giant yellow flowers,” says Fondi, adding that Treedom usually plants it near fruit trees. “This type of [pollinating] insects are so important to fruit production. “
Markhamia lutea, also called the nile tulip, is native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and is quite tall, offering shade and shelter from the wind for smaller trees. The leaves fall throughout the year and make a good mulch too, helping to retain moisture in the soil, explains Fondi. Although it is sometimes cultivated simply for its beauty, the leaves and bark are also used medicinally, even to treat toothache. The tree is named after Sir Clements Markham, an English explorer, writer, and geographer; lutea It is Latin for ‘golden yellow’.
In addition to providing its delicious fruit, the mango tree is pleasing to the eye. With a height of up to 45 m, “many people plant mango just because it is a beautiful tree,” says Fondi. And for the gardener on your gift list, this fruit tree could be an attractive option.
Treedom internships graft, an ancient technique applied to young trees where one species is spliced within another to create a hybrid variety. Fondi explains that a species that is known for its high-quality fruit is inserted into another that normally has a broad and strong trunk. “We plant grafted mangoes so that they bear fruit earlier and because the fruit is better. [They are used for] direct family consumption and for sale. If you want to sell your fruit, it has to be good! “, He says.
In addition to producing juicy fruits, it is said that The flowers of the mango tree are aphrodisiac.. Maybe one for your sweetheart from the palette?
The leaves of a mango are said to be aphrodisiacs. Image: Treedom
The baobab is one of the most iconic species in Africa. With its broad trunk and sparse crown, it is instantly recognizable. Not only are they pretty on a postcard though, baobabs hold great significance in the local cultures in which they are grown and are incredibly long-lived.
It is the national tree of Senegal and Madagascar and some are believed to exist 2,000 years. Treedom plants baobab in Kenya, mainly on the coast near Mombasa, where conditions are very favorable. But it is a delicate process, which involves collecting seeds from local forests. “You can’t just go to Amazon to buy baobab tree seeds!” says Fondi.
If you’re stuck with a gift for a colleague – someone you’ve spent countless hours with this year in staff meetings – a baobab might be a suitable choice. Why? It appears largely in local legend as a communal gathering place. “This is the wise tree under which you would have a meeting,” says Fondi.
An avenue of baobabs in Madagascar. Image: Yasmine Arfaoui