Pat has been part of the Richmond Vale Academy tree planting process. He has received some assistance from time to time since 2015 to establish his own orchard on his 3.6 acre farm, on which he grows a variety of trees, some of which are for commercial use he sells to vendors on the local market.
The fruit trees he grows carry a great commercial value like cocoa, avocado, five finger, sour sop and guava. “I have grown different trees that produce fruit to everyone on the farm, and then there are the commercial trees with an economic benefit.”
So far Pat has planted 30 avocado trees, 10 guava trees and 69 citrus trees; he cautions on tree planting: “the message still needs to be spread, you will find the unscrupulous ones cutting down trees they should not. They cut down trees for domestic use such as burning charcoal. I look at the farmers in my area how they are cutting trees and not think of replanting. I look at it as a farmer, for the youths now to continue to benefit; If we cut trees and replace whatever trees that are non commercial into commercial trees, let’s say we have avocado, mango, guava you name it and the generation behind, they have an orchard or lets say a fruit forest.
“Whenever these are, when you do the replacement, there is a time when you have to say goodbye, and the generation after they may not be thinking at the time, but if there are fruit trees with value that they can make money out of, the avocado, mango and so on, when they are going to harvest those plants, they will think that ok I am making money from these trees that my dad left there. I can spend some of the money, and give men a few days work and they can make a good start and it’s something they consider to be of economical benefit.”
“As part of conservation efforts there are designated areas for instance by the forestry department where it is prohibited to cut down trees or burning in the village. There are some trees with highly toxic smoke, which is hazardous to the health, if you burn and inhale it some people even get health problems.”
He says of his tree planting passion, “In 2016 we had heavy flooding, terrible weather conditions, right to this period we still experience heavy winds and rains. I am planting trees as part of environmental preservation. I am also planting trees with economic value, at the same time I am building systems others can copy and benefit from, especially future generations.”
“They act as a windbreak, in some cases they help to minimise soil erosion, some of the farmers they take the residue from the plant and make compost with it, the leaves that fall, they take those leaves and break them down and make compost,” he further explains some of the benefits of the trees they have planted.
Pat Otley, Farmer