Seed It Forward activity report in 2017

2017 was a very busy and fruitful year. A record number of events and other activities organized or supported by Seed It Forward, new acquaintances and friends from almost all districts of Moldova, new learnings and discoveries.

On the one hand, after all of this you want to just do nothing… but on the other one, it has been a huge step in our experience and expertise, and it asks to be used and developed further.

Highlights of 2017:

  • 22 planting events with volunteers in 13 localities of Moldova, more than 5 plantings consulted, numerous monitoring and tree-caring visits
  • multiple simultaneous events – thanks to a team of three main coordinators, we could be at several planting events in different parts of the country at once
  • co-organizing, with Eco-Village Moldova and EcoVisio as a whole, the program “ActiveOrganic” (February-November 2017)
  • launching a new project-initiative, “Ask a Worm“, to promote urban composting and local products
  • getting new tools and equipment – saws, proper boots, 50-meter measuring tape and earth auger
  • over 335 people involved in practical activities (many of them more than one time)
  • over 3400 seedlings and over 3500 seeds planted

Activities in 2017:

February – attempting a “Save Ghiocel” campaign, in collaboration with Dumitru Arion from NGO “Viitorul Verde” (details).

March 5 – first planting event of 2017 at Bubuieci: 15 people, ~150 seedlings of sycamore maple, and no less than 300-400 acorns of red oak (details).

March 18 – second willow-planting action at river Raut, Coacaza Rosie (first one was in 2016): 8 people involved, over 400 willow cuttings planted (details).

March 25 – participation in Eco-Forum “Green Vision” in Balti, organized by initiative ”Țara Verde” – as one of the exhibitors and as a speaker on the topic of tree-growing (details).

Also March 25 – fire on Bubuieci plantation. Many trees destroyed, some trees saved by the wet mulch around them. Lessons: more mulch made of leaves, more dry grass management, less plantings in “nobody’s” areas. – details

April 1 – an ”official” teambuilding-treeplanting activity with representatives from BT Leasing company, in collaboration with Eco-Village Moldova team. 19 people involved, 120 trees planted (details).

April 11 – creating a tree nursery in Bubuieci school. Definitely not a perfect one, but still! 15 pupils involved, tens and hundreds of red oaks, hazelnuts and walnuts planted, as well as two seedlings of horse chestnut and one sweet almond (details).

April: continuing the Carbon Footprint Offset collaboration with MitOst and THK (Brochure by THK).

April 2017 – launching program ”ActiveOrganic”, dedicated to spreading practices of organic agriculture and creating a community of responsible farmers and consumers. Over 150 applicants from all over Moldova, very difficult to choose the 25 selected ones who would go to the first seminar (details).

April 29 – tree-caring activity in Bubuieci with an unexpected number of 22 pupils-volunteers. About half of them met Seed It Forward for the first time, and all of them came because they wanted, not because they had to. Thus, April 29th saw an unprecedented thing – in several hours, we have found, weeded and mulched all trees and bushes that were showing signs of life – about 1,000. At the same time, young volunteers were learning / remembering, on real examples, about the benefits of mulch, about what part of a tree is the most important one, about symbiosis, about where garbage goes to, about how to find out whether the tree is alive if it has no leaves… and many-many more. – details

May: thujas at the balcony. – details

May 6-7, 2017 – first ActiveOrganic seminar. 30 participants from over 20 localities and 17 districts of Moldova, with their ages ranged from 18 to 67 years, shared their experiences, learned about and tested practices of organic agriculture and permaculture, as well as discovered various methods of producing their own organic fertilizers, including several types of compost (details – 1, 2).

May: monitoring visit to Bubuieci: from under the burnt earth, new trees appear! (details)

May 27-28 – second ActiveOrganic seminar: 30 participants from 14 districts of Moldova learning about local and biological methods of plant protection, online resources for identification of plant illnesses and pests, main mistakes and tips for plant protection; current situation with water resources in the Republic of Moldova, which water is acceptable for irrigation and which not (and what to do in this case), analyzing the drip irrigation system that was recently installed at Eco-Village Moldova; and study visit to village Gura Bicului – the ”Gori’s Tomatoes” farm, example of commercial organic agriculture and of a functioning model of Community Supported Agriculture – which makes farmers and consumers all feel that they are part of one large friendly family (details).

May 28 – getting to know new tree-growing friends and a potential planting site of about 50 ha (details).

June 4, 2017 – participating in World Environment Day, by the way, just after coming back from a 60-something km bike trip in the frames of BikesCrossBorders project – details.

June 10-11 – third, the largest (over 38 participants in two days combined, coming from the very north, south, west and vest of the country) and the most intense ActiveOrganic seminar. Two study visits with the topic of social entrepreneurship (to vil. Razeni, Ialoveni district), and theory and practice of organic gardening (vil. Cigirleni, Ialoveni district). Sessions on small rural entrepreneurship and marketing for organic products, dried fruits and vegetables without preservatives, a workshop about solar dehydrator, and basics of ecological beekeeping from four beekeepers. – details

June 2017 – monitoring trees that were planted in Riscova in autumn 2016. Overall, pretty good results (almost everyone alive and growing), but trees are best counted in autumn. (details)

June 23-25: urban composting project idea, an old Seed It Forward’s ambition, is tested at ClimateLaunchpad Moldova Boot Camp, under the name “Organic Mobility” (details).

July: monitoring visit to Bubuieci – more burnt trees are reviving! (details)

July: composting and solar dehydration workshops for BFC Moldova team during their active retreat at Eco-Village. – details

July 15-16 – fourth ActiveOrganic seminar, 26 participants: secrets of successful marketing and healthy nutrition in theory & practice; solar dehydrators, experience in orchard creation and study visit to a walnut orchard; presentation of Seed It Forward initiative; principles of a productive orchard (planting, grafting, pruning); homemade bread workshop; demonstration of various greenhouse types. – details

July: the urban composting project gets its ultimate name – Ask a Worm – and a logo…

…acquires buckets…

…and first “clients” – here is a Bokashi composting workshop with BFC team, the first company to dare to deal with its organic waste. (details)

August 5 – fifth ActiveOrganic seminar, dedicated to development of the project ideas proposed by the participants. Numerous discussions, three great watermelons and, of course, a spontaneous workshop – this time, on growing mushrooms in your cellar (details).

August 10 – monitoring visit to willows in Coacaza Rosie. Tens of small bushes – exactly what we’ve been hoping for! (details)

September 16 – National Finals of ClimateLaunchpad green business ideas competition, and Ask a Worm team taking the third place (which means diplomas, handy presents and going to the Global Final in Cyprus) – details.

September 30 and October 1 – IarmarEco, the Fair of Ecological Opportunities and Social Entrepreneurship.
Seed It Forward was responsible for three workshops (“How to compost your organic waste in apartment or office?”, “Honey: how to choose and how to eat”, and “How to plant trees so that they grow”) – details.

Honey degustation.

Part of Seed It Forward team, friends and products.

October – Bokashi workshop from Ask a Worm for Association “Oberliht”, who decided to make their office greener, too. – details

October 13-15 – co-organizing the activEco Challenge #4: Growing Trees, a whole training dedicated to this topic. It was unfortunately too early to actually plant any seedlings, but otherwise the meeting was full of informative and as much as possible practical activities. Participants got to know activists from WikiWoods and Seed It Forward initiatives, discussed the main questions and challenges of growing trees, went to a small study visit through different types of plantings, learned how to plant a tree and care about it, collected seeds, planned their own plantings and got consultations. That also ensured the busiest November Seed It Forward team has ever had – what with mentoring and supporting about 10 tree-planting events around the country (details).

At the same time – autumn monitoring of Riscova plantings. Part of the trees at the hill were grazed upon by horse or maybe other animals, but still pretty much alive. What’s funny is that at some point a part of the slope went down together with trees that were at the edge – and those trees feel the best and grew the most. Looking forward to them making seeds in a few years!

October 16-19: Right on the next morning after the tree-growing seminar, the Seed It Forward / Ask a Worm coordinators went to Cyprus – to take part in the Grand Final of the ClimateLaunchpad. Ask a Worm didn’t make it to the main scene, but made juries laugh – and was certainly going to go on. And meanwhile, the team had the opportunity to train, get to know people and start-ups from other 34 participating countries, enjoy several workshops, and explore the Cyprus a bit – so many new plants met! (details)

October 20, on the way back from Cyprus – a short visit to Hryshko National Botanical Garden in Kiev. – details

October 22, Valea Satului, Criuleni district: inspecting results of previous work (planting and grafting), cleaning and sorting seeds, testing brand-new and long-awaited earth auger (thanks to collected donations and contributions from ActiveOrganic participants), planning upcoming planting events and opening new planting season – autumn-2017, by planting acorns, chestnuts and hazelnuts! – details

October – new approach to the issue of gathered and burned / thrown away leaves: save them! (details)

October 28, Valea Satului – opening the planting season with volunteers, on initiative from energic team of Exitpoint.md / True Foresters: tree planting & run & bike & camp’n’talk. About 25 people involved, 150 honey locust seedlings (as a live fence along future food forest) and about 150 of acorn ”nests” planted. – details

October 29, village Inesti, Telenesti district – planting live fence of honey locusts together with Vasile and Irina, participants of ActiveOrganic program. Despite the changing weather (it was so sunny in the morning!), the start – 50 seedlings planted – was given, and the planting continued in the next days. However, the Seed It Forward team learned – finally! – an important lesson: even if you come from far away and meet with friends, never begin an outdoor event with tea party – or later rain will catch you. – details

November 1-2, community “Sciastlivoie”, Orhei district – helping our friend and fellow coordinator Ivan to prepare soil for spring planting, searching for and trying more effective methods of planting on very difficult soils, where even acacia has trouble taking root. – details

November 4, Valea Satului: one of the best Seed It Forward planting events ever – continuing to plant food forest together with about 40 volunteers, “old” and “new” friends. The whole territory that is to be planted is about 50 hectares, so it is a long-term project… however, this time we added around 500 trees – seedlings of honey locust for live fence, and seeds of common & red oaks, wild almond, wild apricot, Russian olive, etc. – details

Continuing the new tradition – finalizing the event with a circle around the fire, food and talk.

November 7: visiting willows in Coacaza Rosie. Considering the high anthropic and animal pressure – good results! Making conclusions regarding the planting technique and looking forward to visiting them in 2018. – details

November 10: supporting the “Just plant it!” project in Drochia, organized by two participants of activEco program. It meant a good package of material and moral support travelling from Chisinau to Drochia – tea, gloves, photocamera, 60 elm and 60 poplar saplings, as well as one Seed It Forward coordinator as a mentor / observer. Together with 15 volunteers – mostly pupils, who have also participated in an informative session about trees held by local organizers a week earlier, as well as several other locals – the team planted about 30 young elms to enforce the bank of the lake. The rest of seedlings is going to be used to continue the protection line, as well as planted in other parts of Drochia region. – details

November 11, Valea Satului again – a small, but beautiful planting. We were 13 planters plus a small “paratrooper”, and we planted 32 seedlings of ash and about 200 “nests” of black walnut, oak, ash, plum and hazelnut… and, as usual, talked in parallel about honey, orchards, nutrition, organic agriculture, afforestation and many other vital things. – details

November 12, Coacaza Rosie, Criuleni district – activEco / ActiveOrganic planting event, bringing more trees, especially nitrogen fixers, to a permacultural-garden-in-process. 10 people, about 100 trees. – details

November 12, village Riscova, Criuleni district – ActiveOrganic Harvesting and Celebration meeting. About 40 guests – ActiveOrganic alumni and other friends of organic agriculture – shared their experiences, evaluated the ActiveOrganic program and discussed their plans for next year. And, because it wouldn’t be an ActiveOrganic event without any practical activities, it was celebrated with an workshop on making churchkhela and a tree planting event, creating a community garden. – details

ActiveOrganic totals (more details here, more photos here).

ActiveOrganic on video:

November 13-14, Singerei district – one of the most important plantings: creation of a live fence for orchard of Eugen, founder of Seed It Forward, who always helps others plant their trees, but has to somehow manage to grow his own ones as well. With the earth auger and smiles, a small team of Seed It Forward friends planted about 450 seedlings of spiky honey locust. Let them try not to take root after that! – details

November 18, village Papauti, Resina district – yet another planting event in framework of activEco, by a participant that dreamed of planting trees in the kindergarten of her village. So, we planned the event together, and, again, one of the coordinators set to the north of Moldova to overview and support the planting. Together with about 35 volunteers from villages Papauti and Lipceni, we planted about 70 trees – spruce, birch, linden, red oak, maple, catalpa, hornbeam, ash, elm and viburnum. – details

November 18 – “The Saturday planting in Ion’s garden” – an activEco / ActiveOrganic planting in village Mindresti, Telenesti district. 10 people involved, 95 trees planted: walnuts, honey locust, sea buckthorn and viburnum along the border of the peasant farm of Furculita family. – details

November 22-23 – assisting at the activEco planting event at the Construction College of Moldova. Together with 40 students and professors, we planted about 50 seedlings of ash, hornbeam, elm and poplar, as well as four thujas. – details

November 25 – “Planting in the clouds” at one of the highest hills of Moldova, near to village Temeleuti, Calarasi district, in order to help two beginning farmers, Vasile and Nicolae, prepare their land for creating an orchard (activEco / ActiveOrganic planting). Numbers: 9 people, over 200 pioneer trees in order to improve the soil quality, as well as sea buckthorn and a lot of hazelnut seeds, so that they can germinate and grow under the protection of pioneers. – details

November 25 –  a small planting event in Danceni, Ialoveni district, organized by ecological farmer / participant of the program activEco-2017, Vitalie Pintilei, with support of Ivan Chiriac on behalf of the Seed It Forward team. Overall, 7 people participated, and planted 140 trees to fix the slope adjacent to the locality. – details

November 26 – last autumn planting in Valea Satului, 15 people, 150 seedlings (ash, hornbeam, sea buckthorn and elm) and about 300 seed nests. – details

December 15 – second planting event in Temeleuti, to finish the remaining seedlings. There were more interested people than places in the transport, so the priority went to those who hasn’t yet been there. Those five (four volunteers and the organizer) had to brave the mud and climb up the hill with all the tools and trees for about an hour – but they also saw the sun, and planted over 100 pioneer trees. – details

December: Ask a Worm in practice – fermented organic waste from the Swedish Embassy is being taken to village Valea Satului, where it will enter the next stage of composting and then be used in the tree-growing process. – details

December: 9-months old thujas at Seed It Forward’s balcony… (details)

…and in the tree nursery in Singerei. – details

We would also be happy to do more about the Christmas trees issue – something about planting fir trees in the yards. Artificial trees are, well, artificial, natural trees are either already cut or suffering in the pot… this would be about a live tree that replaces all of those, reminding everyone that a proper tree ought to be outside, in connection with nature, growing year by year. – details
But this means a lot of community and educational work (correct planting procedure, etc.), and we haven’t had enough energy, time and other resources for that this year.

And that seems to be it!

Main partners / sponsors in 2017:

logo_eco-village logo_mitost logo_THK
logo_academia_nicolae_dumitrescu logo_wikiwoods logo_mitoc_group
logo_caux_iofc logo_moore_stephens logo_mega
logo_UNDP starnet

And, of course, many more people without logos – thanks to everyone and looking forward to meeting again!

Plans for the 2018:

– organizing winter plantings of conifers, if the weather is cold enough,
– continuing to plant the food forest
– more experimenting and perfecting the techniques of growing trees in the challenging conditions
– more educational work and activities in the regions
– investing more time into the Ask a Worm project
– more graphic materials for raising awareness and educational aims

***

Photo credit: Gabriela Isac, Nicu Negara and others.