On Arbor Day, we celebrate hope grown with trees
Written by Annelise Jolley on April 25, 2014 in General, News & Events
We often share testimonies from farmers whose lives have been changed through partnership with Plant With Purpose. In celebration of Arbor Day, we’re telling Eladio Cabrera’s story, whose life was changed through planting trees. At Plant With Purpose we believe reforesting barren land is the simplest and most effective method of reversing rural poverty. It’s an antidote to the desperate cycle of hunger, lack of income, and environmental destruction, and it opens the door to a more virtuous cycle of restored land and self-sufficient people.
Eladio is a farmer, community leader, and peacemaker. He strives to create unity within El Café, a village in the Dominican Republic, and to bring up his eight kids to know God. Being a subsistence farmer means Eladio relies fully on his farm to support his large family. But as he shared with our team in the Dominican Republic, “Before, I could not even plant on my farm because I did not have the resources.”
Would you believe trees and some simple training could change Eladio’s life? Agricultural training and tree seedlings equipped him to produce from his farm and earn income. He planted mango, avocado, and citrus trees alongside forest trees like eucalyptus and cedar. Plant With Purpose farmers have learned over the years that co-planting different species in one plot produces far more than planting a single cash crop ever could, and Eladio’s case was no exception. “Today, I have a diversified farm with fruit trees and oregano,” he said. “These crops are the primary sources of income for my family.” With this income, he made improvements to his home and pays for his children’s education – an investment that will pay off ten-fold in the future.
“Today, I have a diversified farm with fruit trees and oregano,” he said. “These crops are the primary sources of income for my family.”
One of our favorite parts about Eladio’s story is the element of community participation. As a mediator, Eladio plays a key role in uniting his neighbors and helping restore peace in El Café. Since Plant With Purpose began partnering with Eladio and his neighbors, the community has joined the effort and worked collaboratively to reverse deforestation. As Eladio puts it, “Community members planted forest and fruit trees that have contributed to improve soil, sources of water, air, and the forest cover. Farmers learned soil conservation techniques with living barriers of pineapple and oregano, and learned [how to produce] organic liquid fertilizers to fertilize crops without polluting the environment.”
On Arbor Day, we’re celebrating the farmers like Eladio who have experienced transformation through something as simple as planting trees. We are thankful for the stories they share with us and for the privilege of working with dedicated communities who strive to heal their land and glorify the God who created it.