By Alexandru Anton
During the weekend 27-29 November we had a tree-planting weekend at Merigar East. This is part of an older project started in 2009 with the help of Saviana Parodi Delfino, meant to maximize the natural potential of the Gar, regenerate the soil and make it an oasis of beauty and abundance. As you probably know, the Gar is situated in the middle of agricultural fields on relatively flat land – which makes it very vulnerable to strong winds that can freeze your bones in the winter and quickly dry out entire trees in the summer. In order to offer protection from this, we started planting a windshield consisting of around 700 trees around the used area of the Gar, from the gate around the Multifun House, behind the camping and then around the Gekö house – finishing up with a massive patch of trees right next to the parking lot, as the Northeast corner is the most vulnerable.
We managed to contract a tractor from the village and scratched a few deep lines in the soil in order to catch any rainwater we might get around the year (around 380 mm per year) and progressively accumulate humidity. The ditches are more or less on the contour lines of the land – perpendicular to the slope which also tends to descend from the Northeast direction.
The trees used so far are Acacia (black locust) and Turkestan Elm, as they are fast growing and can give us a quick start. We also intend to use the metal fence as a second layer of protection, letting various vines grow on it – also making it more visually appealing.
To counteract the hot and dry summer winds, we placed a drip-irrigation along this first layer of trees and this should ensure an increased success rate. Now before the heat kicks in next year we have time to add some mulch – adding sawdust, cartons, leaves or dry grass around the little trees – and this will protect the soil, increase humidity and thus stimulate the development of earthworms, fungi and other beneficial organisms.
This project was realized with the help of Jaromir, Magda and myself and eleven volunteers who were generous enough to offer their time and energy during the weekend. I think this activity in itself was fairly rewarding, as several persons mentioned how happy they were to have the chance to plant trees for the first time in their lives. It also offered plenty of opportunities for collaboration, like one person digging and another following with a little tree eager to settle into its new place, with its roots full of mud and cow dung mixture – but of course we won’t debate here the strange preferences trees might have.
Magda took care of the culinary delights, spoiling the volunteers with delicious food and apple pie. In general we are very glad we can offer homemade food and a lot of products from the locals near Merigar East. At some point I had to remind the volunteers this was not a food-tasting gathering. Actually, I’m just teasing. People were very eager to work and they were hard to stop – one can easily realize the huge amount of work that needs to be done at the Gar and they wanted to contribute as much as possible during their stay.
On Sunday evening, after the tree-planting was done, a gentle, but very long rain fell over the Gar, which made me very happy and got me thinking about this great synchronicity and other kinds of gods and demons.
We will be continuing as much as possible this landscaping and soil regeneration project for the Gar and are grateful for any help, be it physical work, or donations. These things take time, of course, but those who regularly visit Merigar East can already enjoy the increased number of shady areas, for example. Not to mention delicious organic fruits and vegetables, a quick walk and a handpick away!