Ministry: Planting fruit trees and restoring the forest in Brazil

From Katy Webster & Jane Dwyer, SNDdeNs – Projects in Anapu, Brazil 2022

Orchards and Reforestation

With this Project we hope to support and give assistance to the farmers who are working to recuperate the land from cowgrass which bleeds the soil of nutrients and life. The farmers plan to restore the land’s production to food crops and orchards and replant species of the forest trees.

42 families have become involved in this Project.  They have marked one hectacre of their land to work.  Two agriculture technicians are offering assitance to these families. 

They are developing a process of clearing the cowgrass, cutting it to the ground with a bushwacker, planting beans which is a food crop as well as a crop that offers nutrients to the soil to restore its productivity, and then planting fruit trees and forest trees. 

The farmers will frequently cut the cowgrass as it sprouts, without using herbicide or burning; both are destructive to the land. 

The hopes are: 

  1. As the trees grow, and throw shade on the earth, the cowgrass will be controlled and eventually will stop sprouting. 
  2. The production from the fruit trees will be both consumed by the family and sold in the local market, perhaps to the education office for school snacks contributing to the family economy. 
  3. The forest will be restored over time, in harmony with the fruit trees.

Extension of the Nursery

In 2021, we with a group of farmers and technicians built a nursery with the collaboration of a state organization that gives assistance to the farmers.  We filled it with between 10,000 and 11,000 sacks of soil and planted seeds.  The seeds to generate fruit trees came from various agricultural assistance agencies, many seeds being “improved” seeds that sprout more quickly, grow faster and produce sooner and better than traditional seeds.  The fruit trees with which we most work because they are the ones the people want are cacau, açaí and cupuaçu.  The seeds to generate forest species came from our collection in the forest and the collection of local farmers.  These seedlings have been sold and given away to farmers in the region.

During the second half of the year with the assistance of two technicians we sponsored 17 workshops in the communities on grafting, using as the base saplings that were produced with the local seeds, and shoots for grafting from farmers who have developed improved trees.  The second part of the workshop was on pruning the cacau trees that already have at least a two-year growth.  These workshops involved cacau.

In 2022 we have a project to extend the nursery.  We will be able to produce another 10,000 saplings to supply the growing need among the farmers.

Forest Pilgrimage 2022

The year after Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered, we started the Forest Pilgrimage, a 55km walk from São Rafael, Anapu, where Dorothy is buried to the Project of Sustainable Development Esperança (Hope) where she was murdered.  The objective is to declare that Dorothy’s work continues.  The people are still here, still working to save the forest and to stay on the land producing in a way that the land continues to be richer and more productive.  For two years, during the pandemic, we stayed off the road.  This year with all the precaution possible, the wisdom of the people with whom we listen and reflect has said:  We have to get back on the road!  The Pilgrimage must happen.

This year the theme is:  Ressuscitar e Reviver a Floresta:  é Nossa Responsabilidade.  (Resurrect and Revive the Forest:  this is our Responsibility.)  In the preparation, living and evaluation of the Pilgrimage, we will be developing activities that promote this theme.  We hope to be able to share 1000 ipê seedlings, a tree that is known for its efficacy in the reforestation process.  We see in the first activities of planning a significant increase in the interest and involvement of the Youth.  This is a tremendous hope that the Young people will become more involved in this whole process of saving the forest and family agriculture!