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What is Plant With Purpose doing to address climate change?

Empowering Rural Farmers to Reverse Climate Change

Plant With Purpose works at the nexus of environmental degradation and poverty alleviation to empower rural farmers to reverse deforestation and to sequester carbon, reversing climate change. Our integrated approach addresses economic, environmental, and spiritual contributors to climate change and results in healed land and relationships as communities and tribes work together to solve environmental problems. Climate change continues to be an urgent and serious threat to our planet, especially impacting approximately 800 million people who live in rural poverty. Plant With Purpose’s program activities directly contribute to both climate adaptation and mitigation. We seek to help families cope with the food insecurity and vulnerability to natural disasters brought about by climate change. Simultaneously, we equip these same families to prevent soil depletion and expand forest covers to enhance the earth’s natural carbon sinks.

Petronie and her husband in Burundi

Petronie and her husband in Burundi

Climate Adaptation

In the eight countries where we work, we see daily the impact of climate change on farming families. Smallholder farmers suffer the effects of both local degradation and global climate change as seen in food insecurity, inconsistent rainfall, vulnerability to natural disasters, and the persistence of drought.

Our program uses an environmental curriculum titled Seeds of Change to help farmers learn a variety of regenerative farming techniques and biointensive agriculture including the use of cover crops, the triangulation of planting patterns, the creation of organic fertilizers and pest repellents, and the use of double-dug garden beds to cope with spatial limitations. The sum of these efforts enable families to grow more food- addressing the challenge of food insecurity. Partnering families see a 37% increase in crop yields and eat an average of one extra meal per day.

Petronie’s experience in Burundi exemplifies the difference this makes. “Before starting to work with Plant With Purpose,” she explains, “I used traditional farming techniques with whatever seeds I could find. My yield was mediocre and my children were hardly able to eat one meal per day. Thanks to Plant With Purpose, I now have improved techniques to use.” Our impact evaluations confirm that as techniques improve, so do crop yields.

Plant With Purpose also equips families to better cope with the intensified natural disasters brought about by climate change. Of particular note is our focus on soil conservation and soil health. As many rural families in poverty have farms on extremely sloped hillsides, a particularly bad hurricane has the potential to wipe out the nutrients from a layer of topsoil, devastating a season’s harvest. Through techniques like building gabion walls or planting along natural contour lines, farmers can avoid these devastating outcomes.

Overlooking hillsides and planning reforestation efforts in Chepeginio.

Overlooking hillsides and planning reforestation efforts in Chepeginio.

Climate Mitigation

Our partnering communities not only cope with the effects of climate change, they also contribute to lessening its impact on the planet. They do this primarily through strengthening the planet’s vital sources of carbon absorption: trees and soil.

Reforestation is a key component of our program. To date, we have planted over 40 million  trees. Our tree-planting efforts primarily revolve around agroforestry, encouraging farmers to plant species of trees in such a manner that optimizes their relationship with crops that grow in their shade and with the soil beneath. The positive effect this has on crop yields further incentivizes farming communities to enthusiastically participate in tree planting and long-term tree survival.  

Trees are not our only means of carbon sequestration. Our efforts to promote soil conservation effectively expand this vital carbon sink. The same methods that our partnering farmers use to prevent soil depletion and soil runoff further enhance the role of the soil as carbon storage. Our promotion and instruction around mulching and creating organic compost soil returns more productive biomatter into the soil, intensifying its ability to absorb and retain greenhouse gases.

A Commitment to Climate Vulnerable Communities

Plant With Purpose is committed to working with the communities at the forefront of the climate crisis. In fiscal year 2021, nearly 49,000 families will plant over 5.5 million trees using sustainable techniques critical to long-term success. By 2025, we plan to work with 100,000 families in 60 sub-watersheds across 10 countries, impacting over half a million people to mitigate climate change through sustainable land use and agriculture. We will continue to partner with indigenous communities across the globe as they are critical stewards of our planet’s biodiversity.

About the Author

Philippe shares the stories of people living at the forefront of the climate crisis, who are working to transform their ecosystems and communities. He loves emphasizing the human experience, and keeping conversations about the environment centered on the communities most affected by it. Philippe has led storytelling trips to Mexico, Thailand, Colombia, Tanzania, South Africa, Haiti, and a number of other countries. He has previously served in similar roles at Liberty in North Korea and Mobility International.

Philippe obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies at UC Santa Barbara. He furthered his studies by earning a Master of Arts in International Studies as well as a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management at University of Oregon. Philippe is also an illustrator, podcaster, and digital artist. Outside of work, Philippe loves spending time with his wife and their three kids.

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