I’ve always been impressed by Zimbabwe’s annual Tree Planting Day. It would appear that when it first commenced in 1980, the initiative was early in the implementation of what would in the future become global policy. The original concept was started by the Forestry Commission to motivate the nation to plant and conserve trees and to promote the importance of forest and woodland resources; to enhance food security and to mitigate the impact of climate change.
It is even more crucial now, since the more serious aspects of climate change have become more evident and had such a devastating effect on the planet. It has not been discriminate; we’ve all been affected, whatever creed or colour, rich or poor. And although the causes have historically been man-made, the consequences are that the whole of the planet is suffering. Every single species on Earth; be it large or small: from a one celled microbe to an elephant, and of course, the plant life and especially trees. Biodiversity is already being adopted with the main goal being to develop, enrich and sustain the wide-ranging ecosystems of the region.
Zimbabwe is generally a richly nourished nation, blessed with fertile soil and an abundance of sunlight, although natural rain is intermittent. However, virtually anything can be grown. I have seen with my own eyes how quickly anything and everything can grow in a relatively short period of time. Zimbabwe is also blessed with a population who know how to plant, nurture and harvest whatever they grow and who are not afraid of hard work and toiling in the fields or their plots. Unfortunately, my partner, Mercy and I have rarely been able to be around for Tree Planting Day, which falls on the first Saturday in December, but have tried our best to make amends. We now regularly drive over to Highlands to visit the Forestry Commission. On our first foray onto the grounds there, we spent a few hours choosing trees for our newly cleared plot. I found this a wonderful experience and that particular day has become a fond memory. We walked around with one of the friendly, knowledgeable expert staff who listened to our proposals and advised us on what type of varieties to buy and the best way to plant and to cultivate them.
It was like being a child in a candy store, with unlimited options. On that first day, we took thirty trees and bushes back with us, including: apple, pear, mango, avocado, pawpaw, peach, plum, apricot, lemon, lime, orange and a flamboyant. Obviously selecting and getting them back was the easy part. Digging out the holes to plant them in was the difficult part. I’d like to say that I did it all single-handedly; but no, as well as Mercy being involved, we had the help of Simba, a local guy and his wife Beauty. Simba had the muscular physique of someone used to swinging a hoe and shovelling the hard red soil. I certainly had a go, but he was far more proficient than I. Therefore, teamwork became the order of the day. He dug the holes, Beauty pumped water from the well, Mercy planted and I back filled and bordered each one with stones and bricks. Finally, we all watered the newly planted trees and bushes and stood back to admire our efforts.
And several years later Mercy and I still stand back and admire the fruits of our labour; quite literally, as the majority of our trees have now born fruit. The first was our glorious Paw, Paw tree which, as most of the other trees did, grew really quickly. We have an abundance of fruit and have only lost one tree; an apple tree, which we have since replaced. We have also since added a nectarine, a moringa and a macadamia. And the flamboyant, like some of the others, as taken over and takes some controlling; constantly having to be cut back and trimmed. Everything continues to grow unabated. We are indeed blessed and count our blessings. Still not sure about the sausage tree, though!