This #GivingTuesday, support GROWING not just planting

By: Lilly Briggs
November 30, 2021

At this time of year, and especially on #GivingTuesday, thousands of nonprofit organizations are trying to attract your attention. Why should Finca Cántaros Environmental Association inspire your holiday donation amidst all those many options? Because we are committed to GROWING and not just PLANTING.

Environmental education is not effective when it simply plants information one time in a child’s mind and then expects that child to grow into an environmentally responsible citizen. Likewise, stewarding a forest is not effective when a person simply plants trees one day and then expects them to grow into a forest without the help of ongoing care and community collaboration.

Finca Cantaros Environmental Association decided to plant ourselves in the community of San Vito de Coto Brus in 2020 in the middle of a full-blown pandemic. Despite all the challenges and restrictions that a global health crisis imposed on us, we have been able to grow our programs with determination.

We decided that our environmental education initiatives need to be about ongoing growth, not just one-off experiences that aim to “plant” knowledge in people.

We decided our forest restoration efforts need to be about ongoing involvement, not just one-time photo opportunities that ignore the need for planted trees to be cared for over the long-term.

FCEA has accomplished a lot in a short time with a small team due to its energy and dedication. But we still have a long way to go to fully realize our goals. 

Take the case of our Children’s Forest project as one example: yes, we have invited the participating kids back on multiple occasions since they first planted the trees in 2019 in an effort to keep them engaged in stewarding their trees. Among the many environmental education objectives embedded in these “reconnection events,” we aim to highlight that the process of tree-growing is rewarding but requires hard work and commitment over the long-term. We are keenly aware, however, that there is much more we could do to keep these children, the future stewards of our forests, engaged. We can do that more effectively with your support. 

We care constantly for the trees in the Children’s Forest and our other tree-growing projects by keeping the invasive grasses cut back to give the young saplings space to grow. And boy have they grown! But for forest restoration efforts to be successful over the long-term, they need as much consistent and meaningful community engagement as possible.

So instead of asking you to simply “donate a dollar to plant a tree,” as many environmental organizations do, I’m asking you to make a contribution that will specifically and transparently be used to:

1. Nurture the restoration and growth of our forests.

Countless forest restoration projects around the world have failed because they do not ensure this long-term care. For that reason, we need support for labour and material costs to continue cutting back the invasive grasses in all of our tree-growing projects. Helping with weed-whacking may not sound glamorous, but it is critical to ensure that our trees grow and are not just planted. Additionally, helping us fund this important task allows us to reserve resources to hire more energetic, dedicated team members that can help our environmental education programs grow bigger and more consistent as time and Covid allow.

2. Or, you can help support sustainable environmental education by donating directly to support the staff time and/or material costs needed to make environmental education efforts such as the Children’s Forest initiative more robust and sustainable. For a menu of all our current EE activities, check out our website.

We still have a lot of growing to do. But we are as DETERMINED and RESILIENT when it comes to growing as my favourite tree in the Children’s Forest—it has lost its leaves to leaf-cutter ants on several occasions but keeps sprouting new ones.

At FCEA we want to grow more and do more.

And with your support, we know we can: fincacantaros.org/donate/

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