As reported in our August issue, the Family Tree, arts and crafts shop in Hua Hin has been working since 2010 to support ‘Greener Tomorrow’, an inspiring initiative to plant 84,000 trees in Thai temple grounds, currently focusing on Asom Wiwek Buddhist retreat in Chaiyaphum, north-eastern Thailand.
The Family Tree team helped to initiate the project, and lead English language awareness and fund-raising. Since the start of the project, over 40,000 trees have been planted, with more than 90% surviving, due to excellent care by local villagers and visitors to the retreat.
The most recent ‘Big Tree Plant’ was held on 11th and 12th August, 2013, to celebrate Thai Mother’s Day by paying respect to Mother Earth. Despite some rain, the atmosphere was bright and hopeful. Buddhist Monks, local community members, and visitors worked together over two days to weed and fertilize trees which had already been planted, and plant over 300 new trees.
The team achieved the goal of funding a sustainable irrigation system for the trees which had already been planted, through a new, solar-powered water pump. This will allow villagers to care for the trees during the hot season, in particular during the first 3-5 years of their lives.
During the past two years, villagers have been carrying water up the hill in trucks and by hand.
Mrs. Premruethai Tosermkit, Manager of the Family Tree, explained:
“This year, we focused our energy on caring for trees which had already been planted, rather than planting lots of new trees. Many recently planted trees had become surrounded by tall weeds. We needed to clear the weeds, one tree at a time, to help them breath and grow.
The Family Tree team raised 120,900 THB for the Greener Tomorrow Mother’s Day campaign. Our shop donated 20,000 Baht directly. Other donations were made by like-minded businesses with a sense of responsibility to society and the environment, as well as friends and customers. Locally, this included Hua Hin Bike Tours, which donated 3,000 baht towards the project.”
After knowing the final amount of donations, Premruethai and her husband Peter consulted with the team in Chaiyaphum, to confirm the most useful way to use the funds. A consensus was reached to contribute all of the funds towards a solar power water pump and water tanks, because this donation would be sufficient to pay for the system to be operational, and would have a very concrete outcome: water to care for the trees during the hot season.
A solar-powered ‘genius’ water pump is already installed and pumping water to the planted area. A large solar panel, with twelve cells is in place. There is a tap and hoses on the hill where the trees have been planted, and 4 large water tanks have been built. This water can also be used by the temple and community members, providing a green energy, self-sufficient water source. The solar panels are able to generate sufficient power to pump water for irrigation even during cloudy conditions. Water can be stored in the tanks, and used at night if necessary.
The total costs of the equipment and installation of the water pump, solar cells and water tanks were 244,399 THB. Local Monks and community members had already raised half of these funds, which was enough to install the solar panels and pump in advance.
Total funds raised, including the Family Tree’s donation were 269,495 THB. Additional donations were made by different groups of Thai Buddhists who visited the center to ‘make merit’ and donated funds towards the tree planting and solar irrigation project.
The surplus of 25,096 THB is being used to pay a team of villagers to do some more weeding, across the whole planted area, and extend the irrigation piping further into the forested area.
In the evening of the 11th August, Mr. Peter Richards, Marketing and Training Manager at the Family Tree made a short presentation to local Buddhist Monks and community members, to show them progress of the English language website and Facebook page which the Family Tree team had developed, and to introduce the various businesses which had supported the project.
Mr. Richards explained “the presentation helped the community members to understand how funds had been raised from overseas, and who had helped. This was a lot of fun. The people were amazed and grateful that friends from so many countries had supported them. Everyone in the field sent sincere appreciation for all donations, warm wishes and encouragement.”
The Family Tree is open 10.00-22.00 daily, except in May, June and September, when the shop closes on Sundays.