February-March 3, 2011
The past few weeks have been filled with lots of sun, hard work, and above all tons of tree planting. The Dr. Parra revegetation site has been completed and is the largest site to date with just over 700 native trees planted on a series of hills which wrap around his property. The amount of work that goes into an endeavor of this size is difficult to calculate, but just preparing the site requires trails (probably several kilometers worth), holes for all the trees, stakes to mark the trees, carrying trees to the holes and finally planting them. And this doesn’t take into consideration the time to produce each tree from seed to sapling, which involves collecting 3-liter bottles, preparing soil, filling the bottles, transplanting seedlings and then months of carrying for the baby trees as they grow—weeding and watering.
Fortunately we were graced with the presence of numerous volunteers who all pitched in over the course of the past month (and longer in some cases). Thanks to Ishrat, Guy, Sara, Amanda, Simon, Kate, Layne, Ramon, Roberto, Raisa, Pedro and Bernardo for pitching in to help us plant trees!
Aside from the usual field work, we also participated in the 12th anniversary Eco-city celebrations on February 22nd and 23rd. There was an open house where we gave out fruit trees to the public. Each individual could receive a plant for free. We arrived with a batch of 80 trees, unsure of how interested people would be in getting a tree to plant. Since we had fruit trees at the greenhouse, we focused on native fruit trees such as Chirimoya, Pechiche, and Guayaba. The first batch flew off the table and we had to send a truck to pick up another load, which also disappeared almost immediately. Hopefully the trees will be cared for. And Planet Drum got some excellent public relations. A picture of our table appeared in the news article about the open house the next day in the regional paper El Diario Manabita.
The following day there was a parade in the afternoon. Numerous groups of school children had been organized to come representing their neighborhood/school and with signs and banners. Planet Drum face-painted as many of the kids as possible before the parade headed down the main street in town, Avenida Simon Bolivar. It was a great afternoon and all of the shop owners and people on the street stopped to watch as we chanted and sang songs about the eco-city. The response was very positive. The parade ended at the skate park where there was music, dancing, speeches and children read poems about nature that they had prepared in advance.
Despite a lack of initiative on part of the municipal government during the celebrations, which was as expected, the anniversary had a great, small town feel to it, hitting home at the heart of Bahia. Plans for resuming garbage separation (organic and inorganic) in the city are wading through Ecuadorian government bureaucracy, so it could be some time before the project actually commences. Hopefully the national government will back the appreciation they gave to Bahia two years ago with action so that Bahia can be the pilot recycling city they talked about. In the meantime, Planet Drum will be planting more trees, finding more native tree seeds, teaching more children about their bioregions, etc., etc.
As we look into the coming months we will be assisting with tree planting at Punta Gorda and getting the greenhouse ready to begin generating more trees for 2012. As the rainy season wraps up and the soil loses its water content we will water the recently planted trees as necessary. Additionally, seeds need to be collected and planted in the beds so that the cycle of the entire revegetation process can continue.