Seed It Forward activity report in 2018

2018 is the third full year of SeedItForward activity, and so the team expected for it to be the year of a many great plantings. But the weather didn’t think so – and with snowy March, hot April, severe drought in autumn (the soil was very hard to dig, and you couldn’t get qualitative (or any) seedlings from the nurseries), and early winter (snow and frosts starting from the middle of November), it proved to be a very unfavorable year for planting.

Still, the SeedItForward team began the 2018 with a planting (on January 5th) and ended it with a New Year eve planting (on December 31st). And what did we do in between? Just some highlights:

  • Focusing on monitoring – visited and documented almost all plantations made in previous years,
  • Elaborating several visuals and info-brochures on topics of its interest, reaching out to over 100,000 people in Moldova and Romania on online media
  • Continuing the Ask a Worm (urban composting) project started in 2017, getting a small grant from THK for it, engaging more individuals and organizations, and finding several places to gather and compost food waste within the city
  • Getting practical with the Not-burning-leaves campaign, thanks to the ActiveCiuluc project (installing several composting boxes for leaves & convincing authorities to do separate leaves collection in Singerei town – what could be the benefits instead of fines)
  • Co-organizing – for the second year in a row – the activEco Tree Growing Challenge
  • Training assistants
  • Continuing with teambuildings – for example, a planting for about 60 employees of a bank
  • Launching a small campaign on planting instead of cutting conifers in December – and planting over 180 seedlings of fir, spruce and thuia during several events with volunteers.

And now to details!

January 5, after a too-warm New Year – the first planting of the year, on one of our coordinators’ land, in village Coada Iazului (abut 120 km from Chisinau). – details


At the beginning of January, we found some germinated Cedar seeds in the Botanical garden. They were just hanging in the tree. So, we had to save them… and so learn how cedars are born.

We had a snowy February and March…

Saving and trying to save some unfortunate Christmas trees. Artificial snow is evil!

The best of SeedItforward on the 1st of April.

In April, we could finally plant again – and happily planted with the participants of activEco-2018 Impulse seminar: wild trees on a hill

And fruit trees as a future orchard.

Some cedars got to move outdoors.

April is also the time to gather sophora seeds.

The middle of April is usually pretty late for planting, but sometimes there are exceptions… for example, when you have some seedlings you didn’t manage to plant before. And when you have some people to engage. So, we had a tree-saving planting with members of an international KeepCool team from Germany, Romania, Ukraine and Moldova.

In spring 2018, SeedItForward / EcoVisio team launched a new project – ActiveCiuluc: a project meant for informing people living in the basin of the river Ciulucul Mic (districts Falesti, Singerei and Telenesti) about the ecological situation in the region (the river is drying up, underground water polluted, droughts, deforestation, etc.), as well as about practical & simple steps each of them could take to change it for the better. You can read more about this here: How did we get there? The river flows (well, at least is supposed to flow) through the hometown of the SeedItForward founder and through the home-villages of some of our tree-loving friends, so we’ve been looking for an opportunity to do something tree-growing in that region for quite some time. So, the time came… and one of the first things we did was plant some willow cuttings together with volunteers. It was a bit late for this kind of plantings as well, but we decided to experiment and see what happens. – see more

One of the willows two weeks later. – see more

April 27th – monitoring visit to Riscova hill, to see the results of our plantings in 2016-2017-2018. The trees are becoming visible from below! Their story:

May 3rd – monitoring visit to trees planted at the Construction College of Chisinau in November 2017.

On May 5th, SeedItforward posters participated at the Second Fair of Live Seeds and Plants by ”Gradina Moldovei”, to promote seed bombs and seed paper made by one of our colleagues at EcoVisio. – see more

May 14th – following the AskaWorm road: what bokashi-ed food waste looks like and what happens once you collect it?

Food waste gathered and pre-composted with bokashi bran at a small company in Chisinau, during a period of about two months…

Buckets taken to the composting pile at Eco-Village, village Riscova…

Contents of the buckets – with a pickly smell.

Finally in the composting pile – some garden waste and fresh food waste will be added to finalize the composting process.

SeedItForward tree nurseries continue to thrive – here you can see some honey locusts at the end of May. More young seedlings.

A life of a tree doesn’t always begin with a photogenic seedling that somehow fits so well in someone’s hands in classical photos about ecology. For some, it is a real struggle. In May 2018, we visited the willow cuttings planted in March 2017 on river Raut, close to villages Ohrincea and Coacaza Rosie. It might not look very impressive, but we are actually really proud of how those small willows are – battered, but growing, on their way of becoming willow bushes (or maybe jungle). We counted about 80 willows, but probably there are even more. – see the pictures

The willows that got to live in the island (planted in 2016) are faring the best, undisturbed by people and grazing animals.

Another monitoring visit – this time, to Bubuieci plantation. – see more

At the end of May, we have also got an official (certified) trainer in the field of organic agriculture – the very founder and coordinator of SeedItForward, Eugen Guzun, who went through the Ecological Agriculture Training course organized by the Association BIOS on May 29-31, 2018 within the Inclusive Rural Economic and Climate Resilience programme, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the Consolidated Programme Implementation Unit IFAD. We were already holding seminars on organic agriculture and permaculture – now we can do it more professionally! – read more

Regular update on balcony dwellers. – see more
Cedars, first year…

…and one of the thuias – second year.

June 9th, 2018 – it’s a very rare occurrence that #SeedItForward goes to some event, but somehow on this day we accompanied EcoVisio at the NGO Fair 2018, with all the company of creatures and goodies that we have – Worms, Bokashi Gang, soaps, seedlings, postcards, posters, stickers, etc. It seems, one table is not enough anymore! – see more

June 17th – yet another monitoring visit to Riscova hill. Now – wow, the trees are so bushy! And some of them, unobserved, had already managed to blossom and began to produce seeds for the next generation! – see more

June 18th – monitoring the food forest plantations started in autumn 2017 in Valea Satului. – see more

June 24th – visiting wild almonds planted in Singerei forest in March 2016. – see more

Continuing with almost ecological beekeeping, of course…

Inspired by summer-in-Chisinau. Trees are not only about oxygen!

June 30th – participating as SeedItForward and EcoVisio at the first edition of a weekly Farmers Market EcoLocal! – see more

On July 1-6, SeedItForward co-coordinator, Gabi, took part in the Summer School for Climate Change, Innovation and Youth Advocacy in Water Management at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw, Poland.
So, she got a chance to get to know the nature of Warsaw

…and also visit Kampinos National Park, located just next to Warsaw and having a territory of 385.44 km2, or almost 40,000 ha, an area of dunes and wetlands, with 73% forest. Its primary goal is restoration of a natural area, rather than protection (trying to recreate the ecosystem that was existing here before agricultural and military activities). – see more

A small story about how if the excessive grazing were to be stopped, we’d have forest everywhere – it’d grow by itself. – see more

About the sheepherder’s dilemma. – see more

In July, we also co-organized several events within the PlasticFreeJuly campaign. Starting with plastic, we also – naturally – spoke about composting organic waste (because mixing of food waste with recyclables is one of the main reasons the recycling rate is so small as it is), and various alternatives to single-use plastic we as the initiative and people behind it use in our daily life.
July 17th – presentation and discussions “Plastic Free July” at Cafenea Guguta. – see more

July 25th – another session at C51: “Plastic, mon amour: despre plastic pe bune”see more

On July 28th, SeedItForward was one of several socio-ecological initiatives present at the Day of Social Changes within the «Sources of Tolerance» International summer camp. It was represented by Gabi, who brought with her a gray “black” box with a cedar, experience of implementing and coaching many youth projects, and stories about how wonderful and challenging tree-growing is. – see more photos

Our “garden” tree nurseries in July-August – sophora japonică, amorpha fructicosa, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Turkish hazelnuts, honey locust, catalpha, robinia, thuja, asparagus, bunduc and many others. – see more photos

We also often visited the willows we planted on river Ciuluc in April. – see more

More pics from the life of AskaWorm. – see more

Open-field tree nurseries in August: there, in more harsh conditions, we have honey locusts, Russian olives, walnuts, oaks, almonds, ash trees. – see more

(by the way, that’s what the Russian olives looked like as seeds, when we collected and cleaned them in winter)

SeedItForward sycamore, planted back in 2015 and growing in a cemetery. – see more

As a continuation of PlasticFreeJuly, a take-your-own-bag-with-you sticker was born. – see more

August 18-19 – we planned two seminars on ecological agriculture, one in Singerei and one in Telenesti (within ActiveCiuluc project). There were few participants, so it was more of an excursion / discussion.
See more: photos, video

August 26th – some protesting (see some here and here). Actually, a part of #protestpermanent and #așasunădemocrația with OccupyGuguța. Because you do have to plant correctly… and because, even if we speak only of trees, it’s way too difficult to grow trees in Moldova as it is now. They are becoming less and less (in the forests, in the cities), and excessive grazing & vandals don’t really help new plantations.

September 4th – visiting the ABS Recycling station next to Chisinau, another proof that you should collect waste separately and compost. – see more

In October, we finally realized one of our old dreams and created a flyer about alternatives to burning leaves. Not from the perspective of health issues and fines – but rather about what are your advantages if you keep them. – see more here and here

And we made first public composting boxes for leaves – also within the ActiveCiuluc project, at the Ethnographic Museum in Singerei. – see more

Then, while the leaves were still in the trees, we paid a monitoring visit to Bubuieci plantation. – see more

On October 19-21, 2019, we had one of the key SeedItForward events of the year – activEco Challenge Seminar ”Growing Trees”. It was a first seminar organized by SeedItForward without any other trainers – just Eugen and Gabi planning and doing it the way they wanted to. And we are actually quite proud and happy with the way it turned out.
For 27 participants, aged from 14 to 37, it was a challenge to resist all the theoretical and practical activities through which the SeedItForward team shared their experience, and for the team – to provide the answers to the most important questions (what, how, where, when, with whom, why to plant), for people with some experience and with those who have never planted, in just two days. We explored the forest, gathered seeds, planted seeds, made a tree nursery, cut trees, healed trees, dug seedlings, planted seedlings, planted willow cuttings, checked soil types, planned tree-growing projects, played #KeepCool and #Dixit, and even baked sourdough bread at an workshop by one of the participants. We had people from many corners of the country and even two EVS volunteers from the Czech Republic and France. The weather was perfect, the group was wonderful, and we had a feeling that these few days were very useful for every one of us.
Getting the tools ready for some action… and here we go! – see more

Homework – the participants had to find and bring some seeds to the seminar.

Natural “mulch”.

Gathering seeds together.

Sowing seeds.

Theory of planting trees with roots.

(by the way, we also finally did the infographics about a well-planted tree!)

And actual planting.

Planting willow cuttings on the rivulet.

Caring about trees – cutting and healing.

Soil types.

Project management.

During the seminar, we also had a good opportunity for monitoring – and for showing the participants that growing trees is not that easy (and yes, they can be broken, eaten, dry of drought, etc.).

But here, despite the broken branches, the trees planted in 2016-2017 have really taken root. They have seeds already! It’s an amazing feeling, to be standing among them.

At the end of October, we organized a teambuilding planting for a bank. It wasn’t a perfect planting – a bit early, and because of drought it was really difficult to dig.

And the group, about 60 people, would have been a bit too large for our likes – if not for our new helpers, several participants of the Tree-Growing seminar, who answered our call for help, knowing that they will have to get up very early on a Saturday, that there will be many people, etc., etc. And they came, and not only came, but exceeded all our expectations. They cared about the planting field, about the seedlings, about the quality of planting, about the comfort of the planters, learning all the way. That was the day when we felt that the #SeedItForward team grew (and we haven’t felt it for a long time)… – see more

For this planting, we also needed some good-looking and good-functioning toilets. And so, new SeedItForward upcycled toilets were born – reusing various EcoVisio banners since 2014.

And the first ever (and only) SeedItForward banner also, finally, saw the sun again.

The downside – as the years pass, we have more and more useful stuff. Tools, buckets, washstands, cooking stove, a lot of thermoses and reusable cups & plates… and still no big (or any) SeedItForward car to carry all of that. It took over five trips with two smaller cars of friends and family to carry all of that to depositing places.

(some more of anti-single-use SeedItForward stuff)

Despite the drought, people still wanted to plant at least something – and we also organized a small planting of trees and seeds for youngsters from Chisinau visiting Riscova. Of course, on our favourite hill. – see more

Our materials about leaves & composting decorating composting boxes in Eco-Village Moldova.

November 11th – the drought still didn’t really pass, but we decided we had to organize at least one open planting in Valea Satului. And we did, gathering a group of diverse people, each with his / her own tree-growing story. – see more

This was also the planting where we – after two years of plantings with no videos, TVs, etc. – finally allowed some reporters to film what we do. And we still ended up with the typical title along the lines of “they planted good deeds”. But the content was actually quite good.

In November, we also did some materials for ActiveCiuluc, promoting the idea of protection belts along the rivers, but even more than that – the fact that trees are not only about oxygen.

We distributed several hundreds of flyers in rural schools, but they had quite an unexpected impact on the web. Suppose, we have to make more of such things!

Thanks to ActiveCiuluc, we also established good connections to the State Forestry Enterprise “Moldsilva Telenești”.

At the end of the year, we also got some cool gifts:
“Managementul durabil al terenurilor” / ”Sustainable land management” from ACSA… you can actually read it here, if you’d like.

Postcards about urban trees from Shurik / Alexandr Iscenco.

And we made our old dream of planing conifers during the holidays season and even on New Year’s eve true, by transforming the money people “donated” to EcoVisio through the 2% procedure into trees from Alexei Micu.

December turned out to be quite favorable for this activity. So we had even a series of events:
14.12.2018 – first planting of fir and spruce – see more

22.12.2018 – planting conifers during winter solstice – see more

27.12.2018 – talking on TV about why New Year & Christmas should be actually about planting, not cutting…

31.12.2018 – planting right on New Year’s Eve. Who would expect 19 people doing that instead of sitting at home cutting salads? – see more

Plans for the 2019:

– more experimenting with growing trees in the challenging conditions, and getting into large-scale plantings with use of technology, in collaboration with Moldsilva (almost happened in 2018, but weather didn’t agree)
– continuing to plant food forests
– collaborating with other tree-growing activists
– more educational work and activities in the regions (to be continued!)
– more attention to the Ask a Worm project
– more graphic materials for raising awareness and educational aims (yes, definitely)
– hopefully, more videos