Peace Corps volunteer Steven Fosher, from Exeter, New Hampshire, recently completed a tree plantation project in his Nepali community that reached 2,000 people and resulted in 12,000 new trees being planted. The project, made possible through Feed the Future funding, focused on empowering women, schools, and communities by giving them the opportunity to plant and grow fruit and timber trees.
As a Peace Corps volunteer, Steven had previously worked on several local agriculture projects supported by Feed the Future, ranging from helping schools build live fencing, to working with women’s groups on agriculture promotion. Word of his projects spread throughout the community, and Steven began working with local villages to assess their agricultural needs. Many of the villages expressed an interest in planting trees to address issues ranging from nutrition and additional income generation to erosion control. After consulting closely with community members and organizing schools, local groups, and families to help with planning and implementation, Steven began the first phase of his project, collecting and distributing several varieties of fruit trees including mango, lemon, lime, pear, lychee, orange, papaya, pomegranate, and guava to participants. His efforts were met with enthusiasm, and the project soon expanded to include timber trees, which can be used for fodder to feed livestock, live fencing for crops, and erosion prevention on hillsides.
With Steven’s help organizing, the trees were gathered from several nurseries in the area and transported to a number of schools and communities participating in the tree planting program. Tractors, buses, and carts carried the trees most of the way, but sometimes, community members pitched in and carried the trees by hand to areas that were difficult to access by vehicle. When participants received their trees, they were instructed on proper planting techniques and how to best maintain and care for the trees. At schools, students were taught about the positive environmental impact and use of trees.The District Forest Office’s forestry nursery and the District Soil Conservation’s nursery were instrumental to the project by providing seedlings for planting. The project also benefited from the assistance of the District Agriculture Development Office, which provided the fruit trees.
In total, 10 women’s and community groups, eight schools, six Village Development Committees, and one municipality participated in and benefitted from the activity that Steven led. Students, families, and community groups continue to care for the trees, which will improve livelihoods and provide nutritional benefits in the communities where they were planted.