A travelogue by Peter Rytter, Senior Marketing Technology Consultant at Onemedia Consulting.
The majestic Baobab is sometimes referred to as the upside-down-tree due to its iconic shape, but it is also known as the “Tree of Life”. Why? Because it can thrive in a climate as extremely dry and arid as the African Savannah. I have to admit, until recently I didn’t really know much about the Baobab. Even though I lived as a digital nomad for many years and have seen much of the world, apart from Morocco, the African continent was still a blank spot on my personal map.
My name is Peter, I’m from Denmark, but today I live in Lithuania where my team and I work in digital marketing for Onemedia Consulting. Every year, we, at Onemedia Consulting, think of something to give to our customers. In 2022, we wanted to do something meaningful and decided to give them trees. After calculating the emissions for all of our clients’ marketing emails we ordered an equivalent number of trees from Treedom.
At the beginning of the year, my wife and I had a holiday planned to Kenya. A few days prior to my departure, I looked up the location of the Treedom project where some of the Baobab trees that we had planted were being nurtured. I realized it wasn’t too far from Watamu, where we were going to stay for a few days. And so, I spontaneously contacted Treedom and asked if it would be possible to visit the nursery. It was all very last minute, but I don’t regret my decision one bit.
Overall, my visit to Kenya up to that point had left me with mixed impressions. Whereas the tourist routes are well-managed and visitors are looked after with great care, off the tracks, the desperate circumstances many people live in leads to high expectations towards foreigners that often cannot be fulfilled. And then there are people like Adrian. Adrian is the nursery manager for Global Community Initiative, a local Treedom partner in the Kilifi District.
On the agreed upon day, we hired a tuk-tuk to take us to the agroforestry project. It was a very bumpy ride, but cars and drivers are hard to come by. Adrian had provided us with some coordinates; still we got a bit lost. But a call to Adrian revealed that we were almost at the right spot and with a few more directions, we made it safely to our destination. After a warm welcome, Adrian took us on a tour. Next to the Baobabs, Mango, Papaya and Mangrove trees are grown here.
Biodiversity is one of the major goals of the Global Community Initiative. We also learned that the initiative aims to combat hunger by alleviating dependence on monoculture. They also reduce poverty by providing, not only trees, but also the necessary education to successfully grow them. The local farmers can use the trees for various purposes, such as food, medicine, and timber. And they are also beneficial to the environment of course.
These are all vital aspects for the Kilifi region which has experienced the third-highest rate of tree-cover loss in Kenya over the last two decades. This was also the reason why my company chose Baobabs. These trees can live for thousands of years, are drought-resistant and provide habitats for a number of species. They also grow fruit rich in vitamins and their bark has medicinal properties.
That is why we were surprised to learn that Baobab trees are not widely recognized in the area due to the lack of awareness of their benefits among the local community. This is a mindset Adrian and his team are committed to changing. At first glance, it would seem easier to have a nursery in a place where the community already understands the importance of their efforts. But for this exact reason, it is so much more admirable what Adrian and his team are doing.
Even though it was only a short visit, it was a great experience. Not only did we learn about the local ecosystem and the process of growing trees, but we also felt the team's genuine passion for their work and experienced the warmth and hospitality of the Kenyan people. I found it inspiring to meet such dedicated people that want to make a difference in their community and the environment. I really hope all the effort they put in pays off. I’m sure that if they keep going, the local people will start to understand and appreciate all that they do.