Planting the “BIG” guy

Tree planting, is an experience that invokes childhood memories and dreams; an experience unlike gardening.

I still recall vividly when I first fell in love with the tall, sturdy brown tree bearing fuzzy green hairs, – God’s creation that resembles a rather large broccoli. It was during secondary school that we learned about rampant deforestation for the sake development and one of the suggested remediation methods was to plant more trees to reimburse the lost.

I find security standing below a tree that shields me like a big umbrella; I find the oxygen trickling down my lungs, as an exchange of secret pact with the tree; I find the cool ambience and lush green view, soothing and serene.

The opportunity to be able to grow trees which are vital for various magnificent functions is exhilarating and an adrenaline boost. Thus, I always try my best to participate in tree planting programs organized by the Shah Alam Trees For Life committee. The mission this time took place in Seksyen U11, Shah Alam. To be more precise, the planting location was at the vicinity the Bukit Bandaraya playground, opposite residential houses. Mere observation indicated that the land had been quite flat and vacant after construction of houses. To revive the place, various types of fruit trees were being planted by us, volunteers. Not wanting to do this alone, I brought along my course mate to share this experience with me.

Before the main agenda began, ardent environmentalist Bernard, demonstrated the correct technique for planting young trees. Many volunteers from all walks of life – young, energetic kids, ebullient college/universities students, interested residents from the housing area, working adults, enthusiastic retired veteran – paid full attention to him.

Planting a tree could be as easy as ABC, but the technique used and precautionary steps taken would then determine the survival of the plant.  Holes had been excavated so as to reduce the work load and increase efficiency. As a volunteer, all we had to do was first, open the polythene bag of the young tree, bearing a vast amount of fine and extensive roots, with extra caution.

It was the most sensitive part of the tree because the root area is where nutrients and the water uptake by the plant occurs. Next, some soil has to be added into the hole prior to planting the young tree. This was to elevate the tree to an optimum height before burying the tree with an avalanche of soil. This was done so that rainfall or presence of excess water would not cause the tree to drown. The third and the last step was to add as much soil as possible into the hole and stamp it to consolidate the soil structure.

The tree planting activity commenced just before the Sun glared mercilessly on all of us. The organizer had divided the planting area into a few zones and corresponding groups would work in their respective zone. In the spirit of teamwork, about 1000 trees had successfully been planted by a total of 200 volunteers in within one hour.

Proudly, my friend and I also managed to plant 10 trees. The tree planting event, besides the obvious objective of recreating a Mother Nature friendly environment after excessive and greedy use of resources, also served as a platform for us to exercise. The amount of sweat drenched from this activity could be equivalent to running a marathon. Besides, it was also an interesting meeting point with people who care for the environment.

My course mate and I actually got to make a few new friends especially Mrs Atika, who offered to carpool us to the destination. Throughout the journey in the car, we learned about each other’s environmental projects and exchanged ideas. Mrs Atika, despite having some difficulties in walking due to a past accident, was relentless in kick starting her project on permaculture in which it promotes agriculture in the most natural way – no chemical fertilizer, only from litters. She was a definite supporter for tree planting activity which also inspired her kids to follow her steps. Coincidentally, her son was part of our tree planting team.

We also witnessed a senior citizen, collecting empty Tropicana Twister bottles, which was served to us during refreshment, for recycling. What a great role model for the youth!

The event ended harmoniously with a certificate of appreciation given to all volunteers. I asked my friend about how he felt, and he gave me a thumb ups for this golden opportunity and unique experience of planting trees.

Fond memories would be forever etched in our mind and to commemorate it, a picture is  worth a thousand words.

I look forward for another tree planting event!

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