STARTING A TREE NURSERY IN MAMBO VILLAGE IN THE USAMBARA MOUNTAINS, TANZANIA
by Sally Christensen, friend of Mambo
One of the ideas form the projects in Mambo is to have a tree nursery. Tourists who are coming to Mambo can buy one or more trees to compensate there CO2 use. The trees will be planted with the 10 primary schools in and around Mambo to make the villages more green.
In January 2013 our returning volunteer Sally Christensen who had some experience working on a tree project in Bagamoyo, came with her green hands to start the project.
Read below about her experiences:
During 2012 Ndgege, the Manager of Mambo View Point, had managed to negotiate with the Chief and elders the use of a piece of land just outside Mambo Village which could be cleared and then planted as a Tree Nursery for the village.
The elevation of the land is approx 1900m. Many trees around Mambo village had been cut down over the years but in other valleys there were ago carpus and grevillea, old pear and plum trees (planted years ago by Germans now in great need of pruning), a few avocadoes, guava and loquat. Eucalyptus had also been planted by Germans. There were acres of cultivated pine forests and much land has been taken over by wattle which gives nothing back to the soil and soil erosion is visible everywhere.
I arrived on Friday, January 4 and over that weekend visited the 1 acre plot of land which was very over grown indeed. At a first meeting it was agreed that we would try and find volunteers to help clear the land. Also, it was agreed that sending out saplings to farmers in the area was not practical as it would be extremely difficult and time consuming to monitor the care and growth of these trees. It was therefore decided that I would do a study of the 10 primary schools in Sunga Ward to ascertain the sustainability of planting fruit and shade trees in the grounds and to instigate the idea of parents and teachers getting together rotas for watering and nurturing the trees. The schools were very interested, two sadly had no access to water, but it should be feasible over the next 5 years to provide 8 schools with 10 trees each. Mr. Hoza, from the fertile and productive valley of Nkukai, was invited to help me with translation and to impart his local knowledge of existing trees, making terraces, seed beds etc. He would take over when I left and finish the planting of the stock orchard and then the distribution and monitoring of the trees for the primary schools.
Clearing the Land
Under the expert and enthusiastic guidance of Juma, the head gardener at Mambo View Point, and his equally enthusiastic and hard working ladies, the clearing of the land was started. It was discovered that there had been a nursery there before and very quickly four of the old tumbled down terraces were built up again. There were about 25 mature trees there already creating shade and the Lusina trees kept the banks solid and were putting nitrogen back into the earth. The soil was excellent. The lads from the Dogo Dogo Stars football team (average age 17) were also invited to help with the heavy cutting down of shrubs. In return they would get a new football. When they turned up they were terrific. They loved to slash but were less keen on removing the debris. Paths had to be made to carry the debris away to a pile.
Two lads were hacking their way through from different directions and then saw each . I cried out “Dr Livingstone, I presume” but sadly no one understood the reference. A young Dutch anthropologist, Mark, who played in the football team was a great help over these days particularly when no one turned up and he would say “this is really interesting.. there must be a reason.” And I would be champing at the bit and not find it interesting at all that no one had turned up. We discovered from the neighbour (always good to be friendly with the neighbours) that there used to be a well so a new one was dug by him and now we had water on the property. (photo) Volunteering is not a concept that known or loved by Tanzanians so it was terrific having all these people come .(see photos)
Together with Mr Hoza we visited a few small nurseries in the area all run by ladies. Sadly, they only grew pine seedlings but it is hoped that this year they will be encouraged to become more adventurous and grow other trees.
The Jipe Moyo (Give Heart) ladies were invited to the nursery and they showed our volunteers how to mix up forest leaves, manure and sand into a wonderful compost, and then to create the seed beds and make covers of small timbers laying bracken on top to protect the seeds from birds, neighbours chickens ( now banned) and hot sun. (see photo)
Together with Ndege I went twice to an excellent nursery in the town of Lushoto (3 hours away on a bumpy road) and bought 2, 3 and 4 year old fruit trees such as avocadoes, plums, apples, pears, macademia, guava, fig and loquat. We discovered that avocadoes can be grown directly from the stones (young lads were employed to pick them up after the Mambo market) and then in a few years grafting can occur. Other fruit trees are propagated through grafting. The manager, Johnny, is an expert on this and has been invited up to MVP to give a seminar and demonstration so that the ladies can then use these skills both at Mambo nursery and in their own shambas (small holdings). Seeds for shade trees such as mshai and casuarinas were purchased and will be planted right away. They will be repotted in ecyclable banana
Leaf pots made by the Jipe Moyo and Youth Club and can be brought on or sold.
A neighbour (the one who owns the chickens) has been employed to water and to be a security guard.
Mr Hoza and I visited several old fruit orchards close to Mambo and took cuttings of many fruit trees and Juma at MVP is looking after them carefully. At the end of March or early April, just before the rains, the saplings and cuttings will all be moved down to the new nursery and planted according to the plan that Sally has made. In a few years this stock orchard will be producing cuttings for planting and grafting.
Involving the Youth Club
Growing fruit and shade trees by seed, by cuttings and grafting in Mambo Village Nursery is a challenge and it is hard to predict, over the next say 10 years, how many trees will be propagated and how many will survive both in the Mambo nursery and in the primary schools. In my humble opinion , the sheer fact that people from Mambo and the surrounding areas will learn how to make seed beds, to take cuttings and to graft and later to prune; that the existing small nurseries will be bold and grow different seedlings like fruit trees and find a market for them; that teachers, children and parents in the schools will learn how to nurture and grow young trees and hopefully, in the not too distant future, will enjoy the produce, is worth this challenge.
Funding the ongoing project
I had raised some funds which covered the initial costs of young trees, seeds, timber, tools, pots, small salaries. These are now spent. A donation of $15 will buy 2 trees and will on-going costs of nurturing and looking after the orchard, salaries of Mr Hoza and security guard, transport of trees to schools and much more.
To keep this project going guests at Mambo View Point will be given literature about the project and invited to visit the nursery. They can choose the trees and if it is for a family member or in memory of a friend or family member for another $10 they can have a memorial plaque made. Planting trees helps your carbon footprint. (Herman please put a sentence or two in here on your statistics.
We also hope that you who read this blog might donate