12 June 2023
4 min read

The Tree People

In 2017 I danced "The Arc Of Time” which is a Movement Medicine workshop with Susannah Darling Khan at Kufunda Village in Zimbabwe. During the sharing of the "messages from our ancestors"  5 people - (Marij, Farai, Vongayi, Admire and Bev) went into one group. The intriguing 'coincidental' message they all received had one thing in common, which was about TREES! They agreed to meet again after the workshop at Bev's place and invited others who just were interested in trees. This again was a powerful experience and it was clear that there was a need to explore this further. Two people of this group, Marij and Alain, were traveling back to Europe and therefore could not attend the following meeting but instead they supported towards the cost of transport and the need for airtime in order to stay connected and explore this further.

The 'Arc of Time' workshop at Kufunda, Zimbabwe in 2017

The 'Tree people' met for the first time in 2017 - a beautiful late morning and each one invited a friend. The diverse group had grown from 5 to 10 people from different communities only to talk about TREES. Indeed we talked about each other's passions (trees) and we surrendered to what the future was calling from within us: Planting Trees. 

The Tree Knowers and Growers Zimbabwe

One thing led to another each time we met

🌳 We had a name, Tree Lovers and Growers which later changed to Tree Knowers and Growers Zimbabwe.

🌱 In our different communities, we began to have backyard nurseries of different species all inspired by those amongst us who already had tree nurseries. 

🔦 The light within us began to shine on others and it was noticed by our neighbours and we were called into our different local schools to spread the Wisdom from the Trees. Not only are we working with Trees, we're specialising on Indigenous Trees. 

🕸️The web grew, our impact was being felt and noticed in our communities. The schools and communities needed us. But we were not a registered group able to officially work in schools due to ministerial protocols and government systems. In 2017 we decided to become registered as a 'circle' run trust with 11 founding members. Consisting of strong community facilitators in healing journeys, Knowers and Growers of Trees and Artists - all these selflessly gave their all to the growth of the seed that was planted during the 'Arc of Time'.

Growing from seed

For the past 5 years we've been holding sharing circles, planting trees, collecting seeds, cleaning the environment (recycling) and spreading the wisdom on the importance of trees re Climate Change. 

We do recycling with the planting pockets, advocating for wetlands, we've established tree nurseries in more than 20 schools to date, planted more than 10,000 trees with 80%+ of the trees surviving. That's our main focus - survival of the trees we have planted; to care for them until they can thrive on their own. We've held propagating workshops all this from the wisdom amongst us as a group and the financial support from our friend(s). We've partnered with a lot of organisations in tree planting, seed collection, recycling , environmental awarenesses and climate change campaigns.

Sacrifice and determination

Like almost every worthwhile project, this project has at times felt overwhelming for me personally. It has required sacrifice and determination, requiring the investment of time, energy and resources, even when we don't feel we have enough of any of them! I and we are grateful to everyone who has supported our work including Marij and others. We can see that, in order for this beautiful work to become sustainable for us in our lives, we will need to find more funding. On the other hand what has already been achieved is remarkable. Every single tree we have planted and cared for that is now becoming established changes the world.

Challenges & Stepping Stones

Our differences, mostly about finances, have been real but we they became our stepping stones. The Healers amongst us stepped up and facilitated the medicine within us to flow which has allowed us "to keep seeing each other with new eyes every time". Whenever we could we would "shake it off!" as a group. And the Universe didn't spare from the so called challenges. We've had an equal share of systems challenges, where we were not allowed to plant trees, to talk to a gathering or even to clean up some spaces because we were not yet registered. Financially as a non-profit, making group money has been our main challenge or stepping stone, which we keep coming across on almost each and every curve we try to go. We've also had and are still having challenges in capacity building ourselves so that we can match the fast changing world. We're trying to catch-up, with gadgets like laptops for storing our data and information.

I honour the whole group for our collective wisdom and to all our becoming. We now have social media platforms, Facebook page, Instagram, a Twitter handle and a new website, supported and housed at Impact Hub Harare.

Thank you for your attention. Now go plant some trees!

Written by Vongayi  Mashingaidze, TKGZimbabwe

Vongayi Ishe Mashingaidze

Born and raised on a farm in Zimbabwe. A Facilitator of Systemic Family Constellations, Community and Healing Processes. She's currently studying for an Advanced Diploma in Systemic Family Counselling.