Working through COVID to serve the Bahamas

Ken Banks, Phd, PE, has been a TTFF hero and volunteer since 2015.   He initially discovered Trees That Feed Foundation online, and because of his familiarity with breadfruit, was interested in helping.  Living in Florida, Ken has become instrumental in transporting trees to the Caribbean.

Happy farmer with breadfruit saplings, courtesy of TTFF

Most recently Ken coordinated the shipping of 500 breadfruit trees to hurricane devastated Abaco, Northern Bahamas.  The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands spread over 500 miles. Last September Hurricane Dorian left the northern islands with no power, water, telecommunications, or sewage service.  Roads, homes, hospitals, stores, hotels, airports, and power grids were damaged and destroyed.  Aftereffects of the disaster are still devastating, and TTFF is sending breadfruit trees to help rebuild.

After the hurricane, Ken found a family farm in Abaco, Abaco Neem, that was eager to help TTFF.  They connected him to Josefina Adderley-Curry (OIC, Ministry of Agriculture) to head the Bahama team. Josefina will coordinate with schools, homeowners and farmers to plant the breadfruit trees.

Already now in August, the tiny trees are ready to be planted in the field

500 tree saplings 7-8 inches tall, packed 72 in a box, were sent overnight from Tissue Grown Corporation in California to the shipping agent, Abaco Freight, in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Kimber Mazzeo of Abaco Freight took the trees home in their sealed boxes to keep them in air conditioning overnight until they could be flown 180 miles to the island of Abaco.  The Bahama team there had to quickly get the delicate saplings out of the boxes and repot them in soil.  Plants were watered and put into a shade house (which volunteers had to build!) for protection as they acclimated to their new environment.

500 breadfruit saplings repotted and hardening in shade house

During the acclimation, the Abaco islands were hit by tropical storm Isaias, but Josefina took great measures to distribute trees to local farmers before the storm struck.  This was an extraordinary logistical and volunteer challenge!

Ideally the goal is to have a grower in each country to propagate the plants, avoiding problems with transportation and permitting costs.  But today transportation is an issue, and COVID19 presents even greater challenges.

Ruth Saunders, Brendan Saunders, Eva Adderley, Lorenz Carter, Ti & Brenda Gedeon, Victoria Forbes, Vashti Farrington, Lance Pinder, Daphne de Gregory-Miaoulis, Lyndeisha W. Curry, Glenn & Tracey Kelly, Gaylene Reitsma, Evince Joseph

TTFF is grateful to all the members of this partnership team for their dedication to the shared goal of food security.  We are working hard to help communities help themselves and without strong partners like Ken and Josefina and her team, challenging projects like this would not see success.  Thank you all!

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A Jamaican Success Story … Oliver Wills

Breadfruit is becoming famous. This story is about one gentleman who is making it happen!

Oliver Wills

Currently the main markets for fresh breadfruit in North America are ethnic grocery stores in Florida, New York, Chicago and Toronto.  Usually the fruit are not at peak quality and customers are often disappointed.  We see a future in which high quality breadfruit products will be available in mainstream supermarkets in North America.

Ready-to-eat roasted breadfruit is available in modest quantities.  Attractively packaged, the fruit is peeled, roasted and either frozen or vacuum sealed.  The quality and convenience will be hard to beat. Demand is there from the busy and upwardly mobile consumer, willing to pay just a bit more for the convenience and predictable quality.

Attractively packaged frozen baked breadfruit

Oliver Wills is the owner of Livy’s Foods. His factory is located just outside of Kingston, Jamaica, in the Yallahs area.  They export large quantities of roasted, vacuum sealed, frozen breadfruit.  When defrosted and reheated, it tastes as good as freshly cooked breadfruit.  We’ve sampled it and it’s good!  Members of the diaspora from the Caribbean or Pacific Islands  who love this childhood favorite will be 100 percent sure that they are back home in their grandma’s kitchen, eating breadfruit that just came out of the fire.

Livy’s exports exclusively to the Northeast United States.  The shipment typically sells out within a few weeks of delivery to the supermarkets.

Livy’s factory is off the grid and run almost totally on solar panels. He employs local seasonal workers and purchases his fruit locally at peak season.  His main complaint is that he can’t get enough fresh breadfruit to fulfil his orders.

Fresh breadfruit, ready to be processed

Earlier this year I spoke with Oliver.  He had found an area of Jamaica which was almost jungle like. The area was filed with lush ferns and moss with  a few mature breadfruit trees..   After he paid local farmers to trim the shrubs and prune the overgrown trees. , he noticed that fruit production increased dramatically. The fruit were larger than before and more flavorful than any.

He just wished that there were more trees. TTFF granted his wish!

Oliver paid to transport, plant and care for the saplings. This project worked well for both TTFF and Livy’s food. Oliver is experienced and has a vested interest, so we are confident that the trees will survive.

His first 100 breadfruit trees are doing well. He expects the first fruit within two years which  will increase his supply dramatically.  Each tree can produce 250 to 300 fruit per year if managed properly.

It’s quite a success story for Livy’s Foods and Trees That Feed Foundation!

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Trees That Feed Foundation on racism

Trees That Feed Foundation works in 18 countries in the Caribbean, Central America, Africa and Asia. We donate fruit trees to feed people, create jobs and benefit the environment. Most of the people that we work with are people of color. We collaborate with them with the shared goal of improved nutrition, economic independence and dignity. We understand their challenges and we offer solutions and opportunity.

We stand against racism and hate in all its forms. We stand for respect and equality of all. The Board of Trees That Feed Foundation is committed to fairness and respect toward all individuals and their communities regardless of race, gender, age, culture, nationality, education, religion, and political persuasion.  That is our position.

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200,000 Trees–A Big Milestone!

The good news just won’t quit!  We just issued our Annual Report (read it here). Lots of good stuff there.  But today, with delivery of 600 young breadfruit trees to Northern Caribbean University’s Dr Vincent Wright, we passed a big milestone.  We’ve delivered a total of 200,000 fruit trees to farmers, schools, church groups, NGO programs and individuals in 18 countries.

Peek at this spreadsheet. In just the past six weeks we’ve funded 2,941 trees in five countries. 6,585 this year to date.  Just over 200,000 in eighteen countries since our first shipment of 72 to Jamaica in December 2009.  This is thanks to our many supporters–some provide funding, others work hard as volunteers to get the job done. Planting fruit trees to feed people, create jobs and benefit the environment.

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Read Our 2019-20 Annual Report

Hot off the Press!  Our very latest Annual Report is out!

In 2019 we provided nearly 25,000 high quality fruit trees in Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda! And there’s much more news. Africa, Haiti, other countries, lots of  stories.  Read about our partner organizations, see some heart warming Thank You notes, and get the facts and figures behind our work.

Click here to read it all.

And of course a great big THANKS to you, our supporters, who make our work possible!

 

 

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Arbor Day 2020

Earth Day was yesterday and Arbor Day is tomorrow. These two days are cousins … closely related.  Earth Day is now 50 years old while Arbor Day started back in 1872!

Zavier Gray, Jamaica, nurturing a baby breadfruit tree

Some of you may have received our Earth Day message.  Briefly, we likened the Earth to a spaceship, a closed system where really there are no new resources arriving, and waste products never go very far away!  Let’s be careful as we use resources and try to minimize waste.

We think planting trees is a great way to help.  They take care of our air, water, soil, food and habitat. And create jobs along the way!

One suggestion for those of us confined at home by the coronavirus … plant a tree.  Take an apple seed, mango seed, any kind of seed. Plant it in a small pot, water it, plant it near a window, and watch it every day while you’re stuck at home.  Take a picture every 2 or 3 days.  You’ll see Mother Nature in action.  We’re running a little competition doing exactly this in the Caribbean in partnership with CariPhil Alliance.

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Update on COVID-19

In these extraordinary times, TTFF remains open for business, although with some limitations. We acknowledge the risk and encourage everyone to take precautions as the experts advise–stay home if you can, avoid crowds, wash hands frequently, as we are doing.  We expect that our work and yours will move along more slowly for some time,  but we’re optimistic that with due care by each of us and with the help of medical professionals and the appropriate authorities, that the risk will be brought under control.  Thanks to everyone for your past support.

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TTFF Welcomes Joe Matara to the Board of Directors

 

TTFF is proud to announce the addition of Joseph Matara, CPA to our governing board.  Joe was born in Kenya. He was educated in the US, earning his BS, MBA and CPA in New Jersey. He has wide professional experience as CFO in two large non-profit organizations.  And he is a person of generous spirit. Joe initially contacted Trees That Feed two years ago.  He had established several schools in Kenya, and wanted fruit trees to help feed the students.  TTFF has donated over 1,000 trees to his projects. Joe has also helped us to distribute trees in other parts of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.   Welcome to Trees That Feed Foundation, Joe!

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Short Story Competition Winners Announced!

Oraine Campbell

We have lots of exciting news this week.  First, we’re happy to announce the winners of our Short Story competition.  Congratulations go to Oraine Campbell, first prize winner of $250, for his story, “By the Grace of Breshay.”  For non-Jamaicans, Breshay (or Bresheh) is a local nickname for breadfruit.  Oraine is a medical lab scientist and a chef at home.

Congratulations also go to L. A. Wanliss, for the story “Bresheh King,” which won second prize of $100.  Lesley-Ann is a published writer and prize winning playwright. Congratulations go to both of these talented young writers!

Read their stories here! 

Runner up awards went to Tajha Winkle, Jordan Garvey, Alexi Brown and Kodi-anne Brown.  The awards were presented at an event at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

L. A. Wanliss

This competition honors two inspiring UWI educators who loved the written word, Joan McLaughlin and Gloria Lyn. Both Joan and Gloria attended the University as mature students. Both became lecturers and particularly enjoyed teaching the wonderful stories of Jamaican folklore and promoting literature. Both women have passed on but their memory lingers as literature continues to transform lives.

Stories were invited around the theme of breadfruit.  The stories were to be set in the Caribbean, a story, modern folk tale, autobiographical or fictional, but including breadfruit as a meal or a breadfruit tree or trees.  Over two dozen entries were received.   Thanks go to the three judges, Lynn Kelso (a TTFF Board Member Emeritus), Judy Osgood and Fred Kennedy, who thoroughly reviewed all entries and carefully selected the winners.  The judges overall were pleased with the entries and want to encourage everyone to continue to write and hone their writing skills.

Click here to read the winning stories! 

Watch for the next issue of JamaicanEats, a food-related magazine published by Grace Cameron, based in Canada.  For more information, or to subscribe, contact her at sweetpotatopress@yahoo.com.

The competition was launched by Trees That Feed Foundation’s Mary McLaughlin, in honor of Joan Elizabeth McLaughlin, her mother in law.  The competition is co-sponsored by the Gloria Lyn Memorial Fund, chaired by Cathy Lyn, daughter of Gloria Lyn.   Joan and Gloria have passed on but their memory lingers on as literature continues to transform lives.

Stay tuned for more news …

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Interesting research paper on Breadfruit nutrition

A research team from the University of Hawaii recently published a paper in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.  Titled “The response of breadfruit nutrition to local climate and soil: A review”, the team reports some interesting findings. Well, not surprising we think — breadfruit nutrition is affected by climate and soils — but maybe not exactly what we thought!  Specifically:

– Stressed trees (too cold, too dry, etc.) have higher concentration of starches, higher energy density, and more vitamins

– Micro- and macro-nutrient concentrations don’t appear to be affected by climate or soils

– These results suggest that the conditions that support high productivity (well watered, warm, etc.) may support lower nutrition

Read the full paper here.

Trees That Feed wants to acknowledge the pioneering work of our colleagues in academia.  While we’re planting trees, they’re doing the research we need to understand the full potential of the beautiful breadfruit!

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