As part of Wildlife Works’ reforestation efforts, our greenhouse team regularly purchase and replant tree seedlings from around our project area in rural Kenya. The greenhouse staff travel to communities around our Wildlife Sanctuary in Rukinga to purchase the seedlings from local farmers at Ksh10 per plant, providing a source of income for some community members who can not find stable work.
After the seedlings are purchased, they are kept at the Wildlife Works greenhouse, nourished and prepared for replanting. Once the seedlings are ready, the team distributes them for free to local schools, churches, environmental groups and individuals for planting.
On November 23, the greenhouse team hired a canter, which is a kind of cart used for hauling goods, to assist them in transporting the purchased plants. The team would need to buy at least 50,000 saplings in order to thoroughly distribute them to the community.
The first location the greenhouse team visited was Kasigau, where the staff visited the home of Mzee (meaning “elder”) Coller, a married man with three school-aged children. While his children attend boarding school, Coller and his wife live in a small, unfinished hut. Without a stable job providing them with money for upkeep or sustenance, the couple rely on growing seedlings for money which provides them with two meals per day and covers the school fees for their children.
Once the greenhouse team arrived on the farm, Coller directed them to where he kept his seedlings. The team members were surprised and thrilled to find over 2,000 tree seedlings at his greenhouse! Coller said he was very happy for what Wildlife Works does for the community, and with the money he earned Coller can finally finish building his house.
The team continued to travel to different local farms within Kasigau and purchased anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 seedlings from each.
Next the team traveled to the town of Marungu, where the greenhouse staff met a farmer named Gradon Mswahili who also relies on money from the seedling program for sustenance. Through the sale of tree seedlings, Mswahili said he can afford to educate his three children, who are currently in secondary school, up to a tertiary level. Mswahili sold 8,000 seedlings, the highest amount any farmer has sold to the greenhouse team, and says that he is overwhelmed by what Wildlife Works is doing.
The last location in the greenhouse teams travels was Sagalla, and after five long days of work the total number of seedlings collected was 57,500 with a 90% species diversity.
The money from the purchase of tree seedling will benefit community members who otherwise could not afford to pay their children’s school fees or provide sustenance for their families. The saplings themselves will go toward reforestation efforts in an attempt to reclaim the once vibrant ecosystem of rural Kenya. The greenhouse staff members are continuing to spread a little green around the community… in more way than one!