Daily Archives: July 25, 2019

1000 tree project - Suvarna Yojane

Tuesday July 23rd, 2019 we went on our first boundary walk of the land
for our 2nd 1000 Tree Project – the Suvarna Yojane. The first
application for the 1000 Tree Project was filed in January of 2018.
Our neighbouring 4 farmers – 3 men and 1 woman – brought together 10
acres of land which had only been sporadically cultivated over the
last decade due to sparse and unpredictable rainfall. The fence was
completed in January 2019 and we began digging the first set of tree
pits and earthworks.

Our second project brings together 30+ acres of land, 4 families and 2
generations. Five women and Eight men joined us for this 2 hour walk
to survey the land and to discuss its history and future. The families
have not farmed for the last 4 years on their lands due to
unpredictable rainfalls, recurring droughts and wildlife conflict
(primarily elephants and wild boar activity). They have survived only
on daily wage and semi-skilled labour work when they would prefer to
be farming. Like many lands in our area, it is a challenging land to
farm because of its proximity to the forest added to the reality of
the climate change induced erratic weather patterns.

The land offers many opportunities for regeneration with a range of
landscape features and a willing group of people who want to work on a
viable solution for the unstable conditions in which we currently
live. They have agreed to plant 1000 trees for every 10 acres, engage
in non-chemical farming and work on methods of water conservation.
They will save and share seeds once they begin to farm regularly
again. Like many others in our village, they have not been able to
save their own seeds because there is no continuity in their faming
and the saved seeds lose their viability.

These farmers are semi-literate and illiterate members of the
Scheduled Caste. The people of Suvarna Yojane look to farming and to
working on their own land as a means to living a dignified life.

The 1000 Tree Project was started in response to the drought of 2016
when we saw large scale cattle deaths in our area. Deforestation and
failed monsoons combined with chemical farming, soil erosion,
overgrazing and plummeting groundwater supplies created a downward
spiral for the community living here.

Find out more about the 1000 Tree Project on our website at swayyam.org

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1000 Tree Project

The 1000 Tree Project was started in response to the drought of 2016 when we saw large scale cattle deaths in our area. Deforestation and failed monsoons combined with chemical farming, soil erosion, overgrazing and plummeting groundwater supplies created a downward spiral for the community living here. Climate change, erratic weather patterns, changes in rainfall volumes and frequencies have all made livelihoods and fodder availability uncertain. The 1000 Tree Project is a holistic design strategy that supports small groups of marginal farmers with a minimum of 4 farmers including at least 1 woman farmer on 10 or more connected acres in a cooperative endeavour to reduce the risks of farming in these erratic climatic conditions.

Each project begins with support to acquire fencing, water harvesting earthworks, drought tolerant native crop seeds, and high-quality tree saplings. The program stipulates that the farmers must engage in holistic and sustainable practices such as water harvesting, alley cropping, mixed cropping, seed sharing and the planting of a minimum 100 trees per acre. This will help change the agricultural practices from monoculture cash-crops, which produces a maximum of 2 crops per year, to a variety of foods and fodder produced year round. These polyculture systems will better provide for the needs of the farmers giving them surpluses to sell and trade while guaranteeing a yield even if some crops fail.

With the 1000 Tree Project we co-create productive landscapes helping them farm again, protect their crops from wildlife and overgrazing, and plant local, drought tolerant trees which build soil and restore biodiversity. The practices of agroecology, agroforestry, mixed cropping, alley cropping and water harvesting heal the soil and nurture the ecosystem while providing food, fodder, fuelwood, medicine, timber, income, and seed security for marginal farmers.

Along with sparse rainfall, man-animal conflict, a history of chemical farming, eroded and exposed soils, the farmers here are small farmers holding 2-3 acres of rain-fed land. These fragmented land holdings are a result of the breakdown of the extended family, the lure of  “greener pastures” in the city and the harshness of the conditions here. The cooperation among families for sharing resources such as food, seed and labor has also been lost. Farmer debts are increasing as the inefficiency of monoculture, chemical farming continues to produce less while inputs continue to rise. Making village life attractive to villagers must include viable economic opportunities if we are to keep the youth and families from moving away. Recurring droughts and changing weather patterns force villagers who depend on the land for their livelihood to migrate to cities to find menial jobs to meet their needs.

The aim of the 1000 Tree Project is to prevent these farmers from becoming landless by reviving the traditional polyculture systems and reducing stress on the already fragile forest ecosystem through a program of afforestation and ecological conservation. By further helping to nurture and protect the trees until they are established, as well as supporting farmers with access to native seeds, exposure visits and trainings, we are facilitating a method that can provide nutritious food, consistent fodder, a diversity of produce for trade, and livelihood security where farmers are empowered, self reliant and live a life of dignity.

Through the 1000 Tree Project, our goal is to plant as many trees as
possible, build soil, recharge water supplies, restore the
biodiversity of the area and bring sustainable farming back into
practice. Our hope is to see the village come together through a
sharing of resources, cooperative actions, engagement in barter, and a
local exchange of surpluses. The farmers who have fed us this long,
who were silently toiling to make that meal on our plates, need
recognition, support and a voice.

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