Planting Trees at Mama Jessica's Farm

Mama Jessica has been a faithful worker of ECHO for the past three years, caring for the tree nursery and gardens.

80% of Tanzanians have a farm, whether it’s their primary occupation or on the side, her family is no different.

After working hard every day at ECHO, she cares for her land and animals in the evenings and on weekends. For most Africans, work never stops at 5 o’clock. Her farm provides food for her family, and some extra income. Typical of most farms, they raise livestock and grow maize and beans.

In the middle of her property is an 80-meter deep ravine. The steep sides drop straight down, revealing the soil profiles’ many colors. Why is this there? At the bottom, you see a small stream.

Water.

Over the years, water has continually carried more and more of the soil away, creating a deeper and deeper ravine. When you look around at the water catchment area, all of the hills are bare. The have been plowed, and now little maize and bean plants are sprouting up.

When the heavy rains come, there is very little there to prevent the water from running off the sides of the hills and into this ravine–trees have been cleared, grasses have been grazed down, and the soil lies bear in the off season.

The water can’t penetrate into the soil, instead, it concentrates at the lowest point and rips it way deeper into the earth year after year.

What can be done about this? How can we stop the water from carrying away more soil? How can we prevent the ravine from getting deeper and wider?

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Trees. Planting trees.

This past week, ECHO hosted a group of 23 students from Belmont University, located in Nashville, Tennessee USA. As a part of their coursework, they came to ECHO to do a conservation agricultural service project.

After touring ECHO, we led them on a trip to Mama Jessica’s farm to plant 500 trees along this ravine.

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A student planting a tree among the maize and beans.

Mama Jessica showing the group how to plant it properly.

Mama Jessica showing the group how to plant it properly.

The trees, as they grow, will send down roots that will stabilize the soil, preventing the rains from washing it away. These trees will also provide shade and habitat for wildlife and insects.

The students planting in front of the ravine, which you can see behind them.

The students planting in front of the ravine, which you can see behind them.

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Mama Jessica and her family were immensely blessed by the work of these students, saving the family’s time and backs. The trees were gifted to the family as a part of the service project. The family will continue to make improvements to their farm, utilizing the conservation agricultural techniques that ECHO promotes.