- June 2017
Planting trees on the Atlantic coast of Ireland
Waves and trees are close to our hearts. As part of our love for the wilderness, we plant one tree for every order. And we support The Plastic Project to protect our oceans. We caught up with our friends at Hometree to reflect on what we have done together so far.
“12,000 years ago when modern agriculture began, there were roughly 1.5 million trees on earth to every person, now with deforestation and growing populations there are less than 400 trees per person.” – hometree.ie
There are certain landscapes where we feel most at home. For us it was always close to the ocean, never wandering far from the shore. Over the years, we have found the same solitude and comfort deep in the forests and mountains. Two of the places that have become special to us are the desolate wilds of Canada and the windswept Atlantic coast of Ireland. These are some of our favourite places on earth, and we wanted to find a way to give back and protect these landscapes for future generations.
It was on a surfing trip on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Clare that we found what we were looking for. Richard was wearing one of our Waves & Trees t-shirts, and that led to a chance conversation with Matt and Fergal, two surfers who set up a farming community on a wild hillside just 600m from the coast. On these acres of land they grow fruit and vegetables, raise livestock and provide a supportive and healing environment where people can connect with each other and with nature. It’s a special place in one of the most stunning parts of Ireland, overlooking some of the best surf in this part of the world.
Part of the farm is dedicated to reforestation and recognising the importance of trees. It’s called hometree: a ten-acre nursery where companies like ours can make donations and plant trees. These are not for selling or felling; they are protected purely for the benefit of the natural wildlife. Hometree started with a single apple tree, planted in soil that everyone said was not suitable for growing. But the tree took root. They soon planted more, watching each season as the birds returned and the beginnings of a small forest emerged from the flat and empty landscape around the farm.
There have now planted 12,000 trees on that patch of land. The surroundings are thick with native and mostly pioneer species such as Willow, Alder, Birch, Scots Pine, Rowan Ash, Holly, Black and White Thorne and even some Sessile Oak. Hometree is one of the projects we support, but we also plant trees with other growers in Canada and Hampshire. The air we breathe does not recognise countries or borders, so we feel that it’s our collective responsibility to care for these sacred, remote environments both near and far from home.
With your help, Passenger has planted over 2,500 trees so far, with 1,050 of these in Ireland with Hometree. Every time we receive an order through our website, no matter how small, we plant another. And we will keep going. Earlier this year we also took the step to send all our orders in recycled and re-usable paper mail bags instead of plastic, as a way of helping The Plastic Project to raise awareness of the devastating effects of plastic that is in our oceans and washing up on shorelines in remote, previously unspoilt locations.
When we caught up with Matt from Hometree last week, he was out in the fields, building a new polytunnel for sheltering seedlings and growing foods to support their close-knit community. He’s out there in all weathers, come storms or sunshine, but his work is rewarding. Time passes slowly on the farm, with his days spent farming and surfing, feeding the animals and taking part in group activities to promote emotional and physical wellbeing. The trees continue to grow tall, and the forest reclaims the landscape a little more every day as new samplings find the strength to reach up towards the light.
We’re proud to support their efforts. Thank you for helping us to make a difference.