Meet the Farmers
Farmers are the heart and soul of the Carbon Offset Program: they plant the trees, take care of them, provide water, fertilizer and TLC required for the trees to thrive. In this post we meet some of the farmers participating in the program and look behind the scenes at how we support and take care of them.
The Role of the Farmer
World Tree provides trees for free to qualified farmers, who grow the trees on their land with their resources. When the trees mature, they receive a 50% share of the harvest. The reason why farmers receive the largest share is because they are doing the work to make sure the trees grow well.
The most time consuming part of the process is planting the trees. Farmers take different approaches to planting depending on their local conditions. The majority of our farmers use organic farming methods, choosing to auger holes to plant the trees (see post). In Costa Rica the trees are inter-cropped with coffee.
For some farmers there will be irrigation considerations during the hottest part of the year. For instance at Empress Acres they water the trees three times a week during August. As the trees get older and develop their deep tri-tap root system they will need less water.
After the first year, many of the farmers will be required to coppice the trees. This means they cut the trees back to ground level to encourage the growth of fat trunks for lumber rather than tall, lanky trees. The first few years also involve pruning, so that the trees grow straight, knot-free timber.
For the most part, the trees are not susceptible to insects however deer can pose a problem. Deer love the high-protein content of the leaves and will munch away on an Empress leaf salad given half the chance. The best protection is a deer fence, although some farmers have created other solutions such as ring-fenced trees with rags that blow in the wind to discourage the deer.
The Role of World Tree
Our trees are precious and World Tree’s role is to make sure the farmers are fully supported and have everything they need to be successful. This begins right away with a conversation with Nick, Kara or Mariana on our farmer support team.
Alex Jay, our our plantation manager, assesses every farmer before allowing them into the program and analyses their land, climate and soil type for suitability. This year we selected farmers in British Columbia, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Texas, Ohio and fourteen separate locations in Costa Rica.
Qualified farmers are provided with a personalized growing plan that becomes part of their contract. The plan describes the requirements for fertilization, pruning and irrigation so that the farmer is fully aware of everything that is involved when they sign their contract. They are also provided with our extensive Growers Guide and the ongoing personal support of the team.
Alex visits every farmer to train them in managing and growing the trees. This year our CEO, Wendy Burton, also visited many of our farmers. Mariana is on site in Costa Rica to provide ongoing support to our network of farmers there and we are excited to see more and more Costa Rican farmers joining the program.