G-lish began raising seedlings in its spanking new seedling nursery in Ghana in February this year. A team of G-lish staff, Green Clubs students and international volunteers will plant the seedlings in schools and the broader community in the rainy season—about June onwards.
We are raising moringa seedlings, mangoes, neem, and local fruit trees. Have a look at the seedlings’ growth in these two pictures.
The progress from April 6, the top image, to April 30, the bottom image, is quite exciting. You can see mangoes have sprouted on the left, moringa have grown in the middle, and neem have also sprouted on the right.
How does the seedling raising work?
A dedicated employee, Solomon, is in charge of the seedling project. Solomon collects seeds by exploring the local area on foot and picking up seeds from the ground. He grows the seeds in a mixture of sand and dirt in recycled water bags—the same ones used to make recycled baskets! He waters the seedlings in the morning and evening, often helped by his daughter, Portia (the cute little girl in these photos). It’s amazing to see the results. And wonderful to know that growing your own trees is that simple—we encourage you to plant some seeds and see the results for yourself. Please send us photos if you do!
Moringa and neem give great health benefits. The leaves of the moringa are highly nutritious and prized locally.
This image of Moringa is courtesy of Trees for Life.
Neem leaves are anti-parasitic and have many other wonderful properties. Boiling and drinking neem tea helps reduce malarial fever and it is commonly used to treat malaria here. Neem are hardy desert trees and provide excellent shade when they’re fully grown. Mangoes provide wonderful shade and delicious fruit.
Caring for trees planted in 2011
Solomon’s tree work also includes cycling to our core basket village to water the trees planted last year, every afternoon. As there is no running water, at the village Solomon carries water in containers on a donkey cart from the bore hole to where the trees are planted. He then carries the water from tree to tree, ensuring they get enough water to survive until the next rainy season.
This work falls under G-lsh’s environmental regeneration program. One of the key aims of this program is to regenerate the degraded environment by planting trees in the communities where G-lish works.
Why say degraded? Oxfam’s site explains it like this:
Ghana’s forests are under pressure, and many Ghanaians believe action is needed if the forests are to survive. Ghana’s tropical rain forest area is now just 25 per cent of its original size. Deforestation has occurred for a variety of reasons, including logging (a major drain on forest resources) and clearing the land to plant cash-crops.
Reforesting Ghana is one of G-lish’s objectives, inspired by Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement.
From a soil point-of-view, the major problems are extensive erosion causing mudslides and flooding during heavy rains.
Another issue is heat. There is a lack of shade and shelter during the hot season. Our locale is extremely hot, with temperatures reaching the low-mid 40s (107 ºF) between February and May, highs of around 37 ºC (98.6 ºF) between September and January, and (mercifully) around 33ºC (91.4 ºF) between June-August.
Adequate shade and shelter from the heat is important for health and, frankly, to be able to think straight. Since there is almost no electricity in the villages—fans and air conditioning do not exist—the only way people can get respite from the heat is to sit under a shady tree.
A large mango tree makes a good natural air-conditioner; the air seems to cool a few degrees as it sifts through the dense leaf cover. Most of G-lish’s recycled baskets are produced in the shade of mango and neem trees that were planted over 100 years ago.
Mango Tree Image
This photo is courtesy of TreeAid in the UK. It’s taken in Dongo, in Burkina Faso, but looks exactly like this part of Ghana, which borders Burkina and shares the same topography and land issues.
We hope that today’s children will enjoy the shade, beauty, environmental and health benefits of the trees G-lish is planting now in 10, 20 or even 50 year’s time.
This project is supported by Combi Coffee–the ones with the coffee van at music festivals–in Melbourne, Australia, who generously donate the tips they receive in their cafes to G-lish to support community projects. The nursery set-up, wire fence, watering can, staff time, and Green Clubs training in schools is supported by Combi Coffee in this project. Here is a pretty mouth-watering review of the Combi’s coffee and another reason why you should head to Elwood for coffee in Melbourne. You can buy G-lish recycled baskets, bags and mats at Combi Coffee’s cafe in Elwood Victoria at 84 Ormond Rd Elwood.