A trip to Kenya – with Susanna

Jun 13, 2022 | written by:

As a child, Susanna wanted to be a teacher.

She ended up doing lots of different things: living in London, working in fashion, and then fundraising for several prestigious foundations. Today, she grows trees.

Susanna Finardi is a Partner - International Expansion Manager at Treedom. She handles partnerships with companies that decide to plant trees as part of their commitment to sustainability. Susanna is a curious person who doesn’t shy away from adventure. In March 2022, she spent ten days in Kenya with Riccardo Alessandrini, one of Treedom’s Forestry Managers, to see with her own eyes what her work helps to achieve.

You can see Susi (as all her colleagues and friends call her) in the cover photo, after a 7-hour flight and another 7 hours in the car. She has just arrived at her destination, in Kenya, and is wearing a pair of boots 3 sizes too big for her. 

Heart in her throat

"I was already proud of my, or rather our work at Treedom, but with a thousand emails and calls every day it’s easy to lose the connection with what you are helping to achieve. I walked among the rows of seedlings that all our partners helped plant. I shook the hands of the people planting the trees that we only see through a screen. It was a tiring journey, of course. But the power of adrenaline is incredible, and this trip gave me a crazy amount of energy."

E2208E59-A58E-4370-8B55-1C96E6BA9584_1_105_cRiccardo Alessandrini, Forestry Manager, posing with an adult banana tree

"This is Ricca (Riccardo Alessandrini, Forestry Manager), who visits the project areas several times a year to check the health of the plants and offer his help to the local communities. This is often simple advice, but it can make all the difference in finding the right solutions. For example: one of the first smallholders we visited showed us where he was planning to plant his 50 trees. Riccardo advised him to plant them much closer to his house instead, to shorten the journey to fetch water for them and to reduce the risk of theft when the trees start to bear fruit." 

A team effort

Meeting Kiisi CommunityTraining with Riccardo – Forestry Manager

"After visiting the nursery where the seedlings are grown before being planted in the ground, we attended one of the training sessions with the smallholders. The training process starts in the nursery building, when the participants are divided into small groups that meet regularly. In the first year of its life, a tree is like a child! It needs a lot of care, otherwise there is a risk that it will not survive: in addition to giving it sufficient water, it needs to be defended against potential attacks from animals and pests, which is why we place so much emphasis on Treedom's message that we grow trees rather than just planting seeds in the ground."kiisi farmer (1)One of the smallholders participating in the project in the countryside near Kisii

The future is assured

"Planting a mix of different species, both forest and fruit, makes the land more fertile and the harvest more secure. The fruits are then sold at local markets and become an extra source of income to rely on throughout the year."

community in MurangaSusanna and Riccardo with project leaders and some beneficiaries

"Neighbours often come and visit those involved in our projects, curious to participate. As we were flying home, a thought struck me. Even if Treedom were to close down tomorrow – touch wood (laughs) – the projects we have started around the world would continue to exist. Sure, we create nurseries and distribute trees to smallholders, but it’s through training that the projects become durable and replicable. Planting a tree seems like a small thing, but it’s like throwing a pebble into a lake: the concentric waves are small at first, but they’re destined to get bigger and bigger."

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