6000 new farmers this year!


What a busy season! 6000 new farmers joined the Eden program this year and the demand for Eden trees on Nigerien farms  just keeps growing. Only lack of resources is keeping us from distributing more!


If you would like to help us help the farmers of Niger, be a part of it too! With a €10 donation, you can support a farming family with seeds for 10 Eden trees. The Eden trees are drought-tolerant trees and bushes that will grow without irrigation and give food, even in times of need. With thousands of farmers queuing to join the program, help us answer the need and fill Niger with trees that will support its caretakers for generations to come.

PAYPAL: friend@edenfoundation.org
WORLDPAY: http://edenfoundation.org/support_donation.html

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The Monitor Lizard at Eden’s field station

Since the field station was established in 1988, numerous wild animals have moved in, making the 20 hectare area of trees, bushes and perennial grass their home. The field station has no permanent water hole, but many desert animals can survive solely on the moisture from the vegetable matters or smaller animals that they feed on.

One such inhabitant of the field station is the desert monitor [varanus griseus]. Related to the Komodo dragon (the largest monitor lizard in the world), the desert monitor can measure up to 130 cm in length. The body is long and robust, with sturdy limbs and a powerful tail which can be used liked a whip in defence. Colouration can vary from yellow to orange with black bands running across the body and tail. As the desert monitor ages, its colour and markings fade and become lighter. Active during the day, the desert monitor emerges from its burrow in the early morning, basking in the sun in order to raise its body temperature. When sufficiently warmed, it begins to track down prey. The desert monitor feeds on small mammals, birds, eggs and insects and will even tackle more challenging prey such as hedgehogs, tortoises and venomous snakes.

Eden believes that every species has a purpose; both plants and animals. The desert monitor is one of many animals that have moved back into the Tanout area after the establishment of numerous Eden trees. It’s presence helps reduce the level of snakes and rodents, which have previously caused the villagers a lot of trouble. The village chief of Dalli (the village neighbouring Eden’s field station) recently reported that the number of snakes and rodents have decreased dramatically since the arrival of Eden and the establishments of trees and bushes in their area. Prior to the arrival of Eden, the villagers used to cut down vegetation in order to chase away venomous snakes and crop-eating birds, but the environmental consequences were disastrous. Today, prey animals move in where farmers are transforming their barren fields into Eden Gardens, keeping the number of snakes and rodents at bay in a natural way.

Eden welcomes biodiversity and we are looking forwards to the reappearance of more wild animals in the area!

Wrapping up a fantastic season!

Farmers being taken on a tour around the field station (May 2012)

On the 1st of July, just after the first rains of the season, our seed distribution shop at the field station closed for the summer, wrapping up the nine-month long period of seed distribution, demonstrations and training at the field station to give way to the annual sowing of experiments during the few months of rainfall.

All in all, 2011-2012 was a fantastic year!  More than 3,000 farmers visited our field station this past season. People came from near and afar (some coming as far as from the neighbouring country Nigeria). People came by foot (some walked over 30km each way to receive their Eden seeds!), donkey, horse, camel, bull cart, bicycle, motorcycle and public transport. During the hot season, many of those who came by foot walked during the night, arriving at the field station at 6 o’clock in the morning. Some days the field station had thirty visitors, other days three hundred! All in all, it was a very busy season during which we distributed seeds for sowing a total of 43,000 trees!

Number of farming households having joined the Eden program (1991-2012)

The season of 2011-2012 also saw a major boost in new farmers! Of the 3,000 farmers that came to the field station, more than 80% were farmers that had not previously registered with our program. Never before in the history of Eden have we had so many new farmers join the program in one year. Prior to the opening of the field station shop in October 2010, Eden had an ambulant version consisting of a team and a vehicle that traveled from village to village distributing seeds, holding preventive health sessions, monitoring the Eden harvests etc. While the ambulant shop was much appreciated by the population, there was a limit as to how many villages and villagers it could serve in a year. The shop at the field station, however, has the capacity of receiving hundreds of farmers daily, as long as our funds suffice.

Please be a part in helping us meet this positive trend! We appreciate the participation and support of every one of our Friends of Eden, and every contribution, big or small, matters!

You can help support our work by giving a one-time donation or becoming a regular Friend of Eden!

Your help is needed!


二十五年前,當伊甸基金會 (Eden Foundation) 首次踏足塔努特 (Tanout) 地區 (尼日最北面與撒哈拉沙漠接壤的農業區)的時候,那裏是一片沒有樹林,沒有綠色生態的地方。肯羅尼 (Kanuri) 族人是住在塔努特地區的居民,他們原本是一個自豪並且自給自足的民族,以獸獵和採集食物為生;直到後來因殖民政權入侵,他們被迫改種經濟作物如小米﹑高粱和花生,以對政府納稅。這個轉變不僅違反他們傳統的生活,更對自然環境帶來嚴竣的考驗,因為為了種植更多的經濟作物而進行大規模的樹木砍伐。

在伊甸來到這裡之前,很難想像塔努特曾經是一大片的草原森林 (savannah forest)。如今只剩下幾棵矗立在乾旱大地中的巨大古樹,可以見證這處昔日旅人也驚嘆的森林。事實上,這並不是很久以前的事。年長一輩的伊甸村民,不時會談起那個殖民以前的年代。那時候土地肥沃,鹿與大象行走於大片濃密森林之中,人們善用大自然提供的豐富糧食。當男人在捕獵野獸時,女人可採摘果實和可食葉類,那時的生活是如此無憂無慮。



保羅貝克曼(Paul Beckman)-伊甸早期的農業專家,拍攝於伊甸田野研究站 (1988)

一九八八年,當伊甸基金會在塔努特地區建立田野研究站時,肯羅尼的農夫們相信只有神才可以種樹,而農夫惟一的生活方式就是年復一年辛勤地耕種,以生產足夠的食物使一家人溫飽。然而這個信念漸漸的被改變了,因為當田野研究站旁的農夫看見種植的植木發揮了防風林 (windbreaks) 的作用,保護小米免受撒哈拉強風破壞,那些受植木保護的農地比其相鄰光禿的農地有更多更好的收成。

村民們探訪伊甸田野工作站 (2011)


如今,在第一位伊甸農夫種下伊甸樹二十年後的今天,他們不但了解到不同物種的用途,且成了值得驕傲的自然守護者。他們重新找回了昔日自給自足的生活模式,以大自然的豐富糧食為生。現在,女人又可以在他們自己的田裏採集可食樹葉和果實,而伊甸花園中其他非食用性作物的用途讓男人可以在那裡等待野生動物的回歸。如今這些肯羅尼家庭從自給自足中找回尊嚴,打從心底感謝這些被外界所看不起的“饑荒食物(famine food),因為他們可以不僅可以自由取用並且找回了許多的傳統飲食文化,更自豪地說起民族獨有的肯羅尼語。



Reconnecting with our roots – the Kanuri people in Edenland

Twenty-five years ago, when Eden first arrived in the Tanout region (which is the northernmost agricultural zone in Niger bordering the Sahara desert), this was an area denuded of trees and green nature. The inhabitants of this region belong to the Kanuri tribe, a proud people who lived an independent lifestyle as hunters and gatherers until they were forced by the colonial powers to start farming cash crops such as millet, sorghum and peanuts that could be taxed. This dramatic break with their traditional livelihood had a devastating impact on the natural environment, as the trees were removed in order to make room for farmland for these new crops.

Amazing though it seemed upon Eden’s arrival, this region used to be a savannah forest. A few giant archaic trees in the heart of this arid land still bear witness of the majestic view that such a forest must have bid any visitor who would have traveled through these lands in the past. This history, however, is not as long-lost as it might seem. In fact, elders in the Eden villages speak of precolonial times with fertile lands when deers and elephants walked roamed the dense forest, when the men hunted game while the women were harvesting fruits and edible leaves from the rich food resources offered by nature’s pantry.

The people that Eden met in the area, however, were heavily marked by a past that had brought them to lose not only the forest they had relied on for their subsistence, but also many of their past traditions that were so intertwined with their former independent lifestyle, and with it much of their pride and dignity. Many villagers had ceased to speak their own language, Kanuri, because they were ashamed of it. On barren, sandy fields that lay exposed to the strong Sahara winds, growing enough crops to feed one’s family throughout a year was an impossible task, and the men would leave the region in the nine-month long dry season to find work in a city. Once the pillar of the Kanuri lifestyle, any tree was seen as a threat to the millet or sorghum crops because it would attract birds who would eat the grains, and so the trees were diligently cut down or burnt before each sowing season, leaving the land all the more barren by the year.

It was a very hard life for all members of the household, and one that left little hope for the future.

Eden’s early agronomist Paul Beckman on Eden’s field station (1988)

When Eden set up its field station in the Tanout region in 1988, the Kanuri farmers had come to believe that only God should sow trees and that the only way-of-life for a farmer in this part of the world was to toil the land every year hoping to grow just enough to feed his family. This belief gradually changed, however, as farmers on the fields adjacent to the field station saw that the vegetative cover acted as a windbreak protecting the millet stalks from the Sahara winds, giving farmers on protected fields yields that were far superior to those of their unprotected neighbors’.

Villagers touring Eden’s field station (2011)

As the field station continued to revegetate, farmers also realized the value of these trees and bushes providing fruits and edible leaves for harvest all year round. In 1991, twenty years ago, the first farming families joined the Eden program. And thus the early seeds of transformation were sown.

Today, after twenty years of sowing Eden trees in their fields and learning about the purpose of each species, the Eden farmers are proud caretakers of nature, having reconnected with their independent lifestyle of the past where they were relying on the riches of nature’s pantry. Once again, the women harvest leaves and fruits from the trees now growing in their fields, and as the men await the return of the wildlife they are finding other usages for the non-edible produce that can be harvested from the Eden Gardens. The reclaimed dignity of households who are now self-sustainable and able to prosper thanks to resources that are freely available to them has led the Kanuri people to reclaim many of those food traditions that have been looked down upon by outsiders and classified as “famine foods”, and today they take pride in speaking their own language.

Wherever man is willing to live in harmony with nature, he can. If we take care of the trees and the plants that can give edible produce, then nature’s pantry will also provide for us. In Niger, the Eden farmers are leaving room in their fields for the valuable Eden trees and bushes, and as a natural consequence, also the wildlife is starting to come back.

And in the process, they are reconnecting with a lifestyle that is rooted in their history, and that once made them the proud Kanuri people that they are.

Sharing the Eden story across the world

Boys of Edenland with newly harvested fruit

Every opportunity to share the wonderful stories from Edenland with people who are living in very different parts of the world is always precious. On December 7th, Eden was invited to the Taipei European School in Taiwan to share with 460 junior and senior high school students the transformation that has taken place in Niger since Eden arrived more than two decades ago, as barren fields yielding meager harvests of millet have become rich gardens. The speech was held by our board member Dr. Miriam Garvi, who took the opportunity to tell the students about how it was when she first came with her parents and siblings to Niger as a child of their own age.

Taipei European School (Taiwan)

For many people around the world growing up in urbanized societies far away from green nature, knowledge about all the treasures that can be found in nature and how they can be utilized has become something rare and exotic. The distance between what we consume and how, where and by whom it is produced is so great that we have lost touch with the real value of what we eat and what we use.

For children and youth growing up in Edenland, however, such knowledge is what is giving them a quality of life that can be found in few other places in the world, and, by realizing the value of what nature provides for them, they have become its caretakers.

Showing an early picture of the Eden field station in Tanout, when it was almost desert: Eden’s founder Arne Victor Garvi, his son Josef Garvi, and early Eden agronomist Paul Beckman hand-in-hand on what was to become the first Eden Garden.

Surrounded by TES’ values of respect, perseverance, participation, responsibility and creativity, on this day that was to mark the International Day of Tolerance, what made a strong impression on the audience was how thanks to the Eden trees families are now able to stay together. This is because the fathers and older brothers no longer have to go off to find work in a city, leaving the mother and children behind in the village for most of the year.

Indeed, families being able to spend time together and share activities has become something rare and precious in most parts of the world.

Sharing the Eden experience brings hope to every corner of the planet. If people in one of the harshest climates of the world can become the caretakers of nature and live off its pantry, then so can everyone, anywhere in the world.

Esther Garvi of Eden Foundation, Niger with the children of Edenland (2011)

Black-headed Lapwing in Edenland

The Black-headed Lapwing [Vanellus tectus], also known as the The Black-headed Plover, is a medium sized wader and a resident breeder across sub-Saharan Africa.

It commonly breeds in wet lowland habitats, but often feeds in drier habitats, such as the Eden farmers’ fields.

Eden believes there is a purpose with every species and embraces biodiversity. As we help the farmers of the Sahel transform their barren fields into fruit-bearing Eden Gardens, we also help provide a bushland habitat for many animal species. To read more about Eden’s work in Tanout, visit our website. To become a Friend of Eden, click here!