Rooted In Hope was founded nearly five years ago in Morgan Hill, California, a small town nestled in the foothills of the south Bay Area. Over those five years much of our work has been carried out in Africa, but made possible by people at home. With support from our local community, Rooted In Hope has helped bring new growth to people and forests worlds away. To celebrate our roots and the people who have helped drive our programs forward, we organized a local project in Morgan Hill. In May, over twenty people joined us in a 5K/10K fun run in Gilroy, California to raise funds for a local tree planting. With the help of the city's Planning Committee, we identified a site at the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Complex in need of tree cover. We worked with local tree expert and enthusiast, Michael Bonfante, to determine the appropriate species, sizes, and positioning of the seedlings to be planted. Last week, a group from Bonfante Nurseries teamed up with Rooted In Hope and planted the 40 young sycamores along the edge of the sports complex. This sycamore species is native to California and can reach over 100 feet in height. The 40 trees we planted will grow to be tall and strong, providing shade and natural beauty in our local community for years to come. Thank you to everyone who supported this local project and who continue to help make a difference at home and abroad.
How do rural farmers persevere through enduring droughts and changing climates? Where do they find nutritious foods to sustain their families after persistent crop failures? What source of income do they rely on to meet their needs when there are no crops to be sold? These pressing issues are a daily reality for the more than 2.5 billion people around the world who depend on subsistence agriculture for a livelihood. With burgeoning populations and diminishing resources, smallholder farmers face harsher conditions than ever before. Climate change is causing farms to be more vulnerable to droughts, floods, pests, and other natural threats, only exacerbating the problems that small farmers face. With the increasing frequency, duration, and severity of drought conditions across much of the African continent, smallholder farmers are looking for new ways to ensure that their harvests are secured against unpredictable rains. Despite the dire need for climate-adaptation solutions, less than 6% of all cultivated land in Africa is irrigated, and almost all poor farmers are dependent on rainfed agriculture. Given that irrigated plots can more than double crop yields as compared to rainfed plots, the potential to achieve food, water, and income security through irrigation remains untapped across the African continent. Drip-irrigation in particular can play a key role in increasing crop yields, conserving water, and creating a sustainable source of income for smallholder farmers in rural Africa. Food Security The thirteen women that make up the Merciful Women’s Self-Help Group in Kinunga, Kenya are in a daily battle against the effects of climate change. Facing shorter rainy seasons, a shrinking plot of arable land, and a proliferation of crop-damaging insects, they were eager to experiment with new techniques to increase their agricultural yields. [...]
What draws people to explore Antarctica, the ‘highest, driest, coldest, windiest’ place on Earth? What is it about the white continent, with its freezing temperatures, desolate landscapes, and complete isolation, that compels one to make to the arduous journey to the bottom of the world? The mystique of Antarctica and its stories of heroism, adventure, and exploration, is as alluring as it is fascinating. A person cannot help but to feel small in the presence of such beauty and ruthless fury. Being so close to nature and so far from the distractions and comforts of society evokes a profound sense of emotion, reflection, and personal responsibility to protect Earth’s precious ecosystems. As Ray Mears writes in Surviving Antarctica, “People travel there to gain a better understanding of our planet and the way in which we as a species are impacting our biosphere.” The backdrop of towering peaks and glistening ice fields appears almost untouched by mankind, a striking paradox to the delicate balance on which this fragile environment depends. It would seem almost irrational to run a marathon in Antarctica, but runners around the world line up to brave the rough seas of the Drake passage and bone-chilling conditions to complete a race at the bottom of the world. As part of our journey to be the first mother-daughter team to run a half-marathon on all seven continents, my mom and I traveled to Antarctica with nearly 200 other runners to complete the 2014 half-marathon in March. The accomplishment of testing your physical endurance in one of the most remote places on the planet is both liberating and humbling. Jenny Hadfield of Runner’s World wrote, “The Antarctica Marathon is billed as one of the most [...]
New horizons… Traveling the world often exposes us to the delicate balance between people and the environment. It can take us from sprawling cities to squalid slums, from thirsty deserts to thriving forests, from high-rises to huts, from comfort to chaos. My mother and I both have a keen passion for travel and adventure, and this year, we have set our sights on new horizons, set our minds to bold commitments, and set our hearts on challenging goals. Although I did not know at the time, when I ran my first half-marathon in 2006 I was embarking on an incredible journey with my mother. We raced in Anchorage, Alaska, kicking-off my mom’s personal goal to complete a half-marathon on all seven continents. Over 13.1 miles we passed Alaska’s distant peaks, lush valleys, and rapidly receding glaciers. My sister and I ran again with my mom in 2008 for her seventh and final continent. The race took us to Brazil, a country home to over half of the world’s remaining rainforests, yet the world’s largest contributor to deforestation. Bold commitments… With two continents completed together, my mom and I set out to be the first “mother-daughter team” to run a half-marathon on all seven continents. We were selected to participate in the Antarctica half-marathon on March 10th, 2014 after over four years on a waitlist…and so begins the next leg of our race! It is difficult to fathom being in the presence of Antarctica’s towering glaciers, abundant wildlife, and lonesome mystique. There is no place else on Earth that is so untouched by man, yet so immensely altered by the human race. With only a week until we begin our journey South, I am both excited [...]
Forests play a crucial role in international development, serving as an environmental necessity and an economic resource around the world. Yet despite their blatant importance to our planet, forests continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate, creating a cascade of negative effects that are too palpable to ignore. Worldwide, over 32 million acres of forests are cleared each year, an area equal to the size of Nicaragua, with Africa’s forests disappearing at a rate nearly three times the global average. The strain on the environment from deforestation has been particularly devastating for the most vulnerable populations in the developing world, often more impoverished and reliant on local natural resources to meet their daily needs than those in developed countries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l3jSTl3cLw The Issue In Kenya, a country with 80% of its population living on small-scare farming, over two-thirds of its landmass in arid or semi-arid climate zones, and a population growing at a rate of over a million per year, forest cover has experienced a sharp decline in recent decades. Illegal logging, charcoal production, forest encroachment, squatter settlement, fire, erosion, and unsustainable land use have been the primary sources of deforestation in Kenya, and the consequences have been drastic. Streams, riverbeds, and watering holes have dried up, soil erosion has increased, hydrological patterns have been disrupted, crops have been destroyed, and wildlife populations have diminished. Rural communities in Kenya dependent upon subsistence agriculture have little opportunity beyond farming, and many times can only meet their daily needs at the expense of the environment. Kenya’s burgeoning population is a stark contrast to its shrinking forests. Marginalized communities continue to cut down trees everyday for firewood and charcoal use, causing the forests cover to retreat further. In [...]
Effects of widespread environmental degradation have infiltrated the entire global system, demonstrating the complex interdependency among the public, private, and civil spheres that govern our world. While the environmental consequences of rampant deforestation may be obvious, the social and economic challenges, although sometimes peripheral, are equally enormous. Destruction of forests leads to a cascade of social and economic obstacles, and this fundamental link between forests and people must be emphasized in development efforts. Take for example, the link drawn between deforestation and gender inequality. In the developing world, poor land management leads to overuse and degradation of forests, leading to significant decline in overall tree cover. As the forest diminishes, water sources dry up and the forest edge retreats further from the community. Women and girls, who are primarily responsible for water and fuelwood collection, are then forced to walk further distances to collect the resources needed for their daily survival. As resources become more scare, women’s enrollment in school declines, further perpetuating the cycle of gender disparity. While it may seem that daily survival and forest conservation are competing demands, particularly for forest-edge communities in developing countries, this is not necessarily the case. Advances in reforestation, agroforestry, and sustainable agriculture have shown to simultaneously achieve gains in both smallholder farm productivity and forest cover. Improved strategies on the production and sale of non-timber forest products and high-value crop yields are stimulating activity in rural markets. These multidimensional techniques are helping to reverse deforestation and mitigate climate change while generating employment, increasing food security, and improving social welfare in the local communities. Development programs that are able to achieve environmental, social, and economic benefits through holistic approaches are most likely to be sustainable. Cross-sector partnership [...]
What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? Brush your teeth? Shower? Use the toilet? Most likely you were able to perform one or all of these activities from the comfort of your home. In the developed world household taps are ubiquitous; reliable access to safe water is expected. However, this is not a universal reality. Today, nearly one billion people on the planet live without proximate access to safe water. That the world’s water resources are unequally distributed is a well-known fact. But what exactly does this mean? What are the implications for the individuals who live without a tap or toilet? In the development community such issues are often viewed through a macro lens, rendering human faces and individual experiences out of focus. So, let me make this personal. Meet Ann. Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ann while on a research trip to Kenya’s Rift Valley province. Ann, a 16-year-old student at Mwituria Secondary School, is one of the 17 million Kenyans living without a reliable source of safe water. For Ann, the eldest of four siblings, each day begins before dawn to collect water for her family. Since she was a young girl, Ann has made the four-kilometer walk to fill a jerry can at her community’s only water source – a stream. Ann carries the 20-liter can, weighing 40 pounds, atop her head as she navigates the occasional goatherds and morning foot traffic on the four-kilometer walk home. The trip takes Ann two hours. Once home, Ann promptly rinses, dresses and then sets off on the two-kilometer walk to school with her brothers – that is if she had enough water to [...]
This past March, Rooted in Hope took a team of five volunteers to Kenya to commence a tree-planting project in theAberdare National Park. In collaboration with Aberdare Safari Hotels (ASH) and the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), Rooted in Hope is working to advance the Return the Bush Initiative and rehabilitate the indigenous forests of Kenya. This initiative, which was started in 2007, aims to reforest 125 hectares of degraded land in the Aberdare National Park. For the 2012 year, Rooted in Hope has committed to planting 5,000 trees in two tree-planting phases. In March, the Rooted in Hope team, with the help of ASH, KWS and local volunteers, successfully planted 2,500 trees. To date, Aberdare Safari Hotels and the Kenyan Wildlife Service have reforested 16 hectares of the 125 hectares. By the end of 2012, Rooted in Hope will have reforested an additional 5 hectares of the Aberdare National Park! A special thanks to all our donors and partner organizations for helping us reach our goal! Follow the Links below for more information: Aberdare National Park: http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/ABNP.html Return the Bush Initiative: http://www.brand2d.com/Aberdares/?p=378) Post by Jenny Emick