New Civilization News: OrchardVillages Project.    
 OrchardVillages Project.
21 Mar 2005 @ 08:00, by redstar

This is my current mission. Progress is starting to happen.
Here is the initial project report. Follow up coming shortly.

Orchardvillages Project.

A Brainchild from Ray. 1st March 2005.

Mission Statement.

The aims of this project are targeted towards establishing a range of effects through tackling a major environmental problem in a sustainable and productive way.

We are trying to reduce the effects of environmental degradation due to deforestation and widespread tree cutting for purposes from building materials to fuel.

Our region has seen increasing reduction in trees during recent decades and this practice has continued and increased up to the present day, leaving large sectors of the population vulnerable to many problems, some of the worst of which include soil erosion, draught, famine, increasing problems finding fuel for cooking etc,

This region is among the poorest in the world and possesses little in the way of mineral resources; Malawi itself is largely dependant on agriculture and on donor aid to survive. The staple food is maize meal, and with very little emphasis on alternative sources of food, a serious drought or famine would lead to an unimaginable disaster.

Excerpts from the local newspaper "The daily Times"
“The Daily Times” 2/3/05
"One would not want to go to Mount Soche, because, as one British mountain climber puts it "Mount Soche is balding fast as locals have climbed uphill and started cutting down trees from the top. Maize fields surrounding the mountain are expanding upwards. The story is the same for Chiradzulu Mountain, Bungulu Mountain, Ndirande Mountain, as well as many other endangered areas in Malawi."

“The Daily Times” 9/3/05 Ayami Mkwanda
Despite the governments best efforts and determination to combat deforestation in the country, the situation on the ground continues to worsen. Over the years, huge numbers of trees have been wantonly felled in Forests, Mountains and all types of terrain in the country. The factors that have led to unsustainable tree cutting are numerous and include farming, charcoal making and building. The problems are contributing to desertification and all the associated problems thereof. Trees are also vital in the process of rain formation and many rivers have dried up as the trees that once protected their banks have been cut down.
In the rainy season, a lot of soil erosion occurs since the loose top soil lies unprotected from the torrential rainfall and fast runoff. The issue of providing the people with affordable alternative energy sources has always been neglected and it is only now that the problem is at crisis point that the government is trying to find solutions.

This problem is occurring throughout every region of the country, including cultivated areas and farmlands. Towns, cities and Rural Areas are all seeing a rapid reduction in tree numbers with no signs of any real awareness of the problems this could cause in the near future. In addition to this there does not seem to be any focused effort by any individual, group, organization or government agency to actively take measures to alleviate these problems and try to reverse this alarming trend.


This project proposes the use of simple low cost methods to implement a program that will attempt to rectify this large and growing problem, by approaching poor villages in stricken areas and working in partnership with the villagers (the old, disabled and otherwise destitute of them, in particular) to provide and monitor the planting and maintenance of fruit trees in a special area allocated by the village headman as a common ground for the village.

Even an initial start of 50 trees per village per year with around 10 villages as participants could have a major impact on the environment and within a few short years on the life and economies of the villagers as well.

The reasons for using various types of fruit trees in this project are that fruit trees provide multifaceted benefits to both the environment and the local communities.

1. Firstly, people are less inclined to cut down fruit trees for firewood because of the benefits brought to them in terms of food and resources from the trees.

2. Fruit trees provide both shade and a source of food and income to the local people involved in the project. Also, the community work provided by the orchards will provide people with some work, e.g. light weeding for very old or disabled people can make them feel purposeful.

3. As the trees grow they provide mini ecosystems for thriving communities of insects, birds and small animals, including bees which can eventually be developed to apiaries, if desired.

4. The trees will provide benefits to the land through anchoring the topsoil layer that is severely threatened and through natural processes of enriching the surrounding soils.

5. Water management – Riverbanks and other catchments areas will be especially targeted as possibilities for orchard sites, as trees greatly assist in the improvement of local water conditions, through retaining moisture during the rainy periods and slowly releasing it during dry spells

6. Fruit trees can be planted in the Maize fields (which lie fallow for most of the year) in such a way as to increase the productivity of the land without disrupting the crops.

The project can be utilized as an educational tool to help the local people realize the importance of trees to their lives, environment and economy and encouraging the planting and nurture of trees throughout the region.

The project will try to improve awareness of the symbiotic relationships between trees and people and through doing so, encourage the respect and care of nature in all its forms.


As a first step, I will try to put together US$250.00 from my limited personal finances and open a local bank account for the equivalent, in the name “The OrchardVillage Project.” This will provide the project with a small capital base from which to begin actual activities.
I am trying to get to this point by June 2005.

I will try to approach individuals, companies & organizations, who may be interested, both locally and through other channels, invite donations, sponsorships, grants and any other type of assistance or support that anyone including local government, may wish to offer.

I will endeavor to carry out any form of fundraising activities to try to increase our yearly totals of trees planted and back up services to ensure that those trees are given enough care to ensure that the majority can establish themselves firmly beyond the requirement of constant human supervision.

According to my initial estimates, the cost of each tree planted will come to approximately US$3.00. This includes the purchase of the seedlings, transportation to planting site, actual planting and 3 months of monitoring and backup support to give the highest chances of life.

If the project takes off, we will try to put together a website with regular news, progress reports, financial statements, photos & personal stories, and will try to encourage the project to be used as a model for other countries.

I am also trying to gain the support of the Wildlife & Environmental Society of Malawi, who would be able to provide vital information relating to especially hard hit areas and also tree seedlings from their local nursery, in addition to possible further assistance in the form of fundraising, volunteers etc.

Once we are able to produce some results and get some exposure, we would also wish to approach the relevant governmental agencies to try and bring the project recognition and also work out the legalities of the management of the actual orchards.

Short & Longer Term Management.
Tree Types to use during different stages

1st Year
Protectors – Jacaranda, Acacia, Bamboo,
Fast Growers – Banana, Papaya, Guava,
2nd Year
Varieties – Mango, Avocado, Mulberry, Orange & Citruses, Various Indigionous species
3rd Year
Exotics – Tamarind, Baobab, Apple, Climbers,

Seasonal Factors & Planting Periods

Access to water will determine planting periods, so areas close to rivers and streams can be utilized year round, while dryer, arid areas can be planted in the period preceding and during the rainy season.

Energy Alternatives to reduce biomass fuel dependency

Solar Cookers
Green Fuels
Strategies for varying terrain types

Cross Planting
Water Issues
Government & Legal Issues.

I will not be putting much emphasis on this aspect until much later in the implementation process. I feel it is far more important to actually get the trees in the ground than to get caught up in red tape issues during the early phases.

Outreach and Community work

An important element in the longer term management of the orchards is the emphasis on the benefit to the larger village community. Orchard benificieries could be encouraged to run a mini nursery on the orchard grounds and the seedlings given to nearby subsistence farmers to be planted within their maizefields.
Also, a provision for a percentage of produce from the orchard that could be earmarked for assistance to the wider village community.

New Techniques

Rock Dust
Heavy Water

Some comments from Friends.

Hi Ray,
Thanks for your email and the info on the orchard project. I think it really
looks like a great idea! I think you are on the right track in getting
started first and then creating a website. This will give you the basis for
finding sponsorship and raising money. Fundraising is an ongoing job for me with
the Institute, but at least I have lots of success stories to show. People are
much more willing and eager to sponsor ideas that have already been
implemented than those that are still on paper. Like you, I used my own money
(borrowed) to start the Leadership Institute.

One thing that occurred to me as a great way to raise money is to feature a
village on your website, complete with photos of the village, the people and
perhaps the profiles and/or interview with some of the elders. Include a photo
of the plot of land where the trees would be planted. Then invite donors to
buy x number of trees for the village. I have found when you make something
very personal like this it makes a big difference. Donors often like to feel
personally connected to what they are supporting. You also might indicate $3 per
tree to help offset some of your personal expenses for the website, etc.

Today I just came across the website for a very interesting experimental
'learning village' in Zimbabwe. You may want to check it out. I think you will
find it of interest. Click Here:
Kufunda Learning Village


Dear Ray, I think the Fruit Tree Thing is a GREAT Idea!!! this is what I
stumbled upon, quite by mistake via Ashanti's blog [link]
. I will indeed send the Ithaca Package to you. That , I think, is the key
to survival of Africa
Get in touch with those people who already are making
those very simple and easy Solar Ovens and get in touch with tree planting
people and this will really add up some SYNERGY! Get the Momentum going and
the Kids in any village will love that feeling of ENTHUSIASM that always is
the Hallmark for Synergy!
Fast growing trees ( along the creeks and such ) just to get the soil to
stay :every fifty -hundred yards away from the water and fruit trees in
between....protected by the fastgrowing trees ( similar to Cottonwood. I
know Jakaranda grows fast in Africa. But there must be people who have
specific knowledge about specific things. You just need to be the
Co-ordinator of it all. One thing NOT to forget: MAKE COMPOST!!!! teach
people to make compost. Call it BLACK GOLD because that is what it really fact more valuable than ANY gold!!!!!.....

To summarize it all:
1 ) Collect Seeds.
2 ) Plant seeds/Veggies & such.
3 ) Teach them to eat as much RAW FOODS as possible ( Quite yummy! )
4 ) Make Solar Ovens/teach cooking with them
5 ) Save all the (organic/vegetarian) Kitchen scraps and make COMPOST of it
6 ) Plant fast growing trees to protect ground soil
7 )Throw as much Clover/legumes in the ground to be turned into the ground
( make soil more fertile thanks to the added NITROGEN in clover/legumes)
8 ) Plant FRUIT TREES as much /many as you can get your hands on! Possibly
berries too. That is such a splendid idea!!!
The fastest growing Fruit "tree" , I think, is the Banana Plant... which
also would give the leaves to be used for baskets etc.
9 ) CONNECT with people /org who already have done all or some of these things!
10)This, nr 10 should be nr ONE!..... So, start with this one: FIND your
TARGET Village! Become a Beloved Friend to them, one whom they always wait
for to come and visit them! Make sure you have a few Influential People
from the Village totally understanding each concept you introduce to them.
People tend to understand concepts that will give them what they need most
at any given time.
ONE THING we ALL need is friendship, co-operation, a COMMON VISION of
HEAVEN ON EARTH! Let the Kids describe how Heaven on Earth would be if they
had their say and way!.... Keep The DREAM ALIVE all the time!.... ( that's
what I do here! )
[link] Another "tree" you might consider.....
Bamboo.... fast growing.... Multi useage.
[link] Non-Invasive Bamboos here.

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