HOW DID THIS TREE FARM IDEA START?
We first moved to Mongolia 14 years ago and initially worked in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, doing community development. During that time we saw the rapid growth of the urban culture and the numerous social issues that came with that development. The Mongolian people, and particularly the men, are truly people of the land and we were struck with the need for them to have a sustainable way of life on their land instead of having to move into the city to find jobs.
In 2007 Rob (I) had a series of dreams about planting a system of shelter-belts and protected areas over a landscape that would effectively create space for gardens and orchards as well as improved pasture land for livestock.
I have always had passion for trees and trees are an integral part of any landscape. They are one of the main building blocks. Trees bring benefits both to the environment (soil protection, organic matter, clean air, habitat for other plants, animals and organisms) and to people (wood, products, fruit, herbs, protection)
WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE IDEA?
In May of 2014 we moved to Selenge Aimag, Sukhbaatar soum and began bringing the dreams into reality. We acquired a 10 hector piece of land in Shaamar soum and purchased a house with a large yard in the neighboring Sukhbaatar soum. In our yard we set up a 6m x 20m greenhouse for seedling propagation and planted approximately 150 fruit trees in the yard.
On the land in 2014 we spread 200 tonnes of animal manure and then plowed the land. In May 2015 we fenced the entire 10 hectors and planted approximately 2000 trees in two rows of shelter-belts around the outside perimeter. In the midst of the fencing and planting we also drilled a water well. We then planted approximately 1500 1 year old fruit tree seedlings in trial beds on the land and at the yard. In August 2015 approximately 350 of these seedlings were grafted with larger apples and cherries.
WHAT IS COMING NEXT?
We hope to see fruit trees not only survive but to thrive in Mongolia. We hope to see a greater understanding of the importance of trees to both the Mongolia environment and to the whole Mongolian way of life.
We would truly love to see a thriving model orchard that can be a place of sharing knowledge, sharing life and a place to develop new ideas and new fruit varieties.
I really like the concept of permaculture, a long term sustainable way to live connected to the community of the plant and animal world and the community of people.
This whole project is more about a way to do life in an environmentally sustainable way; that fosters community; and that opens doors to new ideas and development that builds community.
In ten years we hope to see many small orchards developing in the surrounding areas.