When you have planted as many trees as we have (almost 3 million!), you will know a thing or two about planting trees, but also, a thing or two about love - because what is the act of planting a tree, if not an act of love?
Of course, every tree is different (as is every love!), but over the years we have noticed some general rules that work for both love, and leaves.
Lesson 1: Trust the process
Planting a tree takes dedication, time, patience, and above all, it takes a particular faith, in your own two hands, and in that little seed that you entrust to the soil. You have to believe that you can turn that seed into a tree - into roots and trunk and branches and leaves and fruit. You plant a seed based on the promise of what it will one day become.
Starting a relationship is similar. You may or may not have an idea of where it will go, but you’ve just got to relax, be patient, and believe in what you’re growing.
Lesson 2: Water, sunlight, and more water
Trees need care, especially in the beginning. At Treedom, our trees start out in nurseries, where we can keep an eye on young seedlings and ensure that they get regular water and sunlight. Often, a nursery will be home to multiple species at one time, and each species has its own wants and needs - in fact, part of the training we administer is understanding what those needs are.
There may not necessarily be similar training to prepare you for your relationship, but part of ensuring its success is learning how to recognise the wants and needs of your partner, a task made slightly easier by the fact that we as humans can communicate those needs openly. Maybe some days your partner needs more water (affection), some days more sunlight (warmth). Maybe some days you need those things too. If you know how to read your relationship and yourself, and if you practice open communication, you can’t help but grow something strong and sturdy.
Lesson 3: The most important stuff happens below the surface
Oftentimes, we become so preoccupied with what’s going on above ground, with our leaves and flowers and fruit (and other people’s impressions of our leaves and flowers and fruit!), that we forget the importance of our roots. Roots are what keep your tree from toppling over - they bind the soil, they anchor the tree, and they keep it nourished and healthy.
They’re not something we see often, but if you’re nourishing your relationship, your roots will grow deep and strong and, next time a storm comes along, you can trust in them to keep you upright.
Lesson 4: Celebrate your differences
If you’re familiar with Treedom, you’ll likely have heard that we plant trees in agroforestry systems. That means we plant multiple species on one plot of land, to not only diversify food sources for farmers and their families, but to combine the strengths of each species to produce stronger, healthier plants, increase overall output and enrich local biodiversity. For example, we often plant Cacao with Banana. Banana plants grow faster, with big leaves that provide shade for the smaller Cacao. By pairing them together, they are both able to grow faster, stronger, and produce more fruit.
As another example, if you’re the proud owner of a Treedom Calliandra tree, you may also have heard that we plant these alongside corn crops. Calliandra limits the spread of parasites, and is excellent at fixing nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is essential for plants to develop properly, so the Calliandra acts as a natural fertilizer, and the corn plants grow healthy, ultimately producing more food.
When we are side by side, sometimes our differences are what make us thrive.
Lesson 5: Enjoy every moment
From seed to sprout, sprout to sapling, sapling to sprawling tree. Your relationship will go through many different phases as it grows - and you can’t rush from one phase to the next. A tree can’t be forced to grow faster, flowers can’t be summoned, you can’t predict the unfurling of a brand new leaf.
Take, for example, the Coffee tree. One of our most popular species, we have planted nearly 400,000 Coffee trees over the last 11 years, but even now we wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact number of days it takes for a young tree to produce its first flower.
There is no formula for growing a tree, and none for falling in love. That’s why, when your tree does grow, when those flowers do appear, it’s important to take pride in it. Marvel in the thing that you’ve made – enjoy the fruits of your labour (literal or otherwise!).
So yes, 3 million trees later, we’ve learnt a lot about trees, and a lot about love. It’s that love that keeps us planting. With that, we wish you a happy Valentine’s Day - and for those who don’t celebrate, we wish you a wonderful day with your loved ones! Dedicate a tree.