Planting the way to financial freedom: the DR's story.
The west of the Dominican Republic suffers from inordinate poverty. These rural villages have little financial opportunities, compared to the east of the island - where tourism is booming and there are more jobs available. Where the city continues to develop, the rural towns are full of tin-roofed houses, locally run kiosks and uninhabited land. These areas are reliant on farming and this agricultural dependence is why it’s crucial that farmers thrive. Sadly, the current environmental crisis creates problems for these local communities.
DIMINISHING HOPE FOR COMMUNITIES
The effects that deforestation has on our planet is disastrous, and it’s the poorest who suffer the most. Local farmers are losing their fields and therefore their livelihood. The destruction of trees means no roots and an increase in soil runoff. This washes away the nutrients in the soil, making the land infertile and decreasing the farmer’s yield. In many areas, poorer communities are forced to go into the deforestation business. Often, this is the only way that they can make a fast profit. Cutting down trees for charcoal or to clear areas for animal agriculture is their desperate way to survive.
The difficulty that the farmers face is increased due to the Dominican Republic's weather. The island is prone to hurricanes and earthquakes, increasing the difficulty for the farmers to produce crops. Landslides have a more devastating impact after deforestation as there is less resistance from the trees and their roots.
In these conditions, communities were losing their crops. In turn, this creates finical loss and families were forced to take out high interest loans, preventing them from ever obtaining finial freedom.
PLANTING TREES AND BUILDING COMMUNITIES
Through the plantation of trees, the lives of these struggling communities are able to transform! With the help from our tree planting partners, locals in the Dominican Republic now have their own plot of land and farm their own produce. We can see the life-changing impact that our tree-planting partners provide through the story of Isidro and his wife Idalisa.
The Story of Isidro and Idalisa
Isidro and Idalisa live in Caña, which is our first planting location. This was a vulnerable region, where communities are faced with the impact of extreme weather. Although their land looked lush and healthy, it was unstable. The drought that came with the hot season meant produce was killed off. The flash floods that accompanied wet seasons made farming large yields impossible and their crops drowned. This meant Isidro’s crops were being starved of nutrients due to the floods drenching their soil.
The focus on agroforestry gave hope to Isidro and Idalisa. Agroforestry not only focuses on the crops themselves but also the interactions between crops. This ensures a prospering local biodiversity, resulting in a healthy yield. The condition of the soil is improved for the most prosperous yield possible. The roots of the trees help hold down the water and therefore prevents erosion and more damage to their farming land and infrastructure. Isidro and Idalisa now grow avocados, oranges, and green banana on these agroforestry plots and finally are able to achieve financial freedom from selling these crops.
Isidro and Idalisa in Caña
SUSTAINABLE TRAINING AND FINANCIAL HOPE
Our tree-planting partners provide local communities with training so they know the most effective way to use their land and produce the most crops. This is done through technologies like airframes and rope contours that capture moisture in the soil and prevent erosion. Farmers are taught to respect the land space by farming in lines to get the highest yield. They are shown how to create compost to use as fertiliser and are taught about the power of collaboration. Providing farmers with tools and knowledge allows local communities to have a sustainable income.
The trees that are planted when an Offset item is sold, are an investment for a family. Selling the crop from these trees produce income for their families for years to come. Each plot of land can produce 2200 pounds of coffee. 100 pounds alone can generate the equivalent of 100 US Dollars.
The sense of community now in areas like Caña has lifted the spirits of all who live there. There is huge pride and accomplishment felt in these communities from planting, looking after and yielding their crop. For habits to change, new practices must be learned. By purchasing our jewellery and therefore planting trees in these communities, you create opportunities for people like Isidro and Idalisa to change their lives.