More Havana Tree Planting

Irina Echarry

With a beautiful anachuita tree.

The arrival of rain has been a blessing. The soil was bone dry, the reservoirs were approaching empty and a group of friends were hoping to begin planting trees again.

Tired of someone invisible to us mistreating the saplings that we had been planting randomly all over the city, we decided to change the place of our new plantings for a safer location.

The farmhouse where Clara lives and a pond.

We turned to the Forestry Company, in the outlying Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood, looking for a place for our little trees. This was how we came into contact with Clara.

Clara is a kind woman who lives in one of the estates of the Forestry Company. She lives and works near a reservoir and is charged with taking care of and reforesting that area.

This was just what we were looking for.

From seeds gathered at the Casa de Africa in Havana.

But Clara has two cows and a dilemma: She doesn’t know if she should prioritize pasture land or planting, since the latter would mean risking livestock eating up the plants.

After speaking with her, we still preferred to take that chance because the area was large and we believed there was enough room for everything.

A previous day I had counted up all the seeds that we were going to germinate, and we then placed them in bags full of soil and compost that we had made. The hope that they would then grow healthily and happily was giving us renewed energy.

Part of the area we are reforesting.

We choose a day on the weekend so that it wouldn’t interfere with anyone’s official job. Prior to that we asked Eduardo what the weather would be and we dedicated a certain number of hours to physical and spiritual contact with the earth.

It’s now four weeks since we planted on Clara’s property. Up to now we’ve sowed 34 saplings: locust, yagrumas, custard apple, guanacaste, ceiba and two very beautiful trees whose names we don’t know (we found seeds at the Case de Asia, in Old Havana, and I dedicated one planting to my friend Abel; the other one was from a tree at the Mills Estate whose bark is mustard colored).

A Ceiba tree transplanted.

For the time being there are only a few of us involved in this task. We hope more people will join in from anywhere. They can be national or foreigners, and it doesn’t matter what’s their race, sexual orientation or ideology. They only have to be in Havana (visiting or living here).

Anyone who chooses to participate should wear a hat to protect themselves from the tropical sun, bring antibiotics for after swimming in the reservoir (an optional activity) and have lots of energy for working. From here we’ll come up with something for people to snack on.

If you want to be added to the list, leave a comment telling us how you can be contacted.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

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3 thoughts on “More Havana Tree Planting

  • Hello, we are students from the International School of Havana. Our namers are Gabriela and Sofia and we chose this topic for our Social Studies project. If you are still doing this activity please email me and we can get the whole school involved.

  • I am in Havana in October and interested in learning some more about what you do. Contact me on [email protected] . Rob

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