Trees for the Future has the mission “to improve the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalizing degraded lands”. The organization identifies farmers who need assistance and have a high likelihood of getting through the Forest Garden program. Trees for the Future is currently active in Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, and Tanzania. While the farmers provide land and labor, the training, seeds, and nursery supplies are provided by the nonprofit over four years.


There are several problems that are tackled by Trees for the Future. The first issue is that the food system destroys 50 soccer fields of trees per minute. Most of this degradation occurs in the developing tropics of Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia. In these areas millions of chronically-hungry, smallholder farming families use destructive agricultural practices that degrade the soil. Which also creates the second problem: the limited supply of nutritions for the families and for the communities.


The solution for the problem is called the “Forest Garden Program”, which is not only simple but also easily scalable. Therefore Trees for the Future chooses farmers with their own land, who are trained over a four year period to sustainably revitalize their land. In addition to the training, seeds, tools, and materials are provided. Within this method thousands of trees are planted to protect the soil and bring the nutrients back. This enables the farmers to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, which increases their income by 400%, creates food security throughout the program and therefore enables the children to leave the farm and visit the school.

The program consists of four steps. The first step is called “Protection” and is pursued in the first two years, here the farmers learn how to protect, stabilize and segment their field by growing “fertilizer” trees and growing a protective barrier. The “Living Fence” keeps livestock and other pests out, protects the field from weather extremes and generates additional products that people can use or sell. The second step is the “Diversification” from the second to third year which includes a vegetable and fruit tree portfolio to meet the family’s priority nutritional needs and market opportunities over the year. Followed by the “Optimization”, this step includes the training towards efficiently spacing trees and plants. Finally, the “Graduation” includes not only a celebration but also the development of a sustainable strategy to enable the farmer to be self-sufficient.


Since 1989 Trees for the Future have been able to help 5990 farmers, plant 187 million trees, restore over 28.000 acres of land and change 111.000 lifes. In addition the Forest Garden Program sequestered 653,936.4 metric tons of carbon and 2,400,000 metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.


Trees for the Future was founded by Dave Deppner, who developed his interest towards sustainable land management in the early 1970s. After the foundation of the organization, he became the Executive Director in August 1989. In March 1994 he received the “Trusteeship Award” from the United Nations. The nonprofit planted already 30 million trees by December 2003. In 2005, an agroforestry training program was launched and reached over 2000 trainers in four years. Since 2015 the organization has focused itself on the previously mentioned Forest Garden approach. In 2017 the “Forest Garden Training Center” was launched, which is an online platform for Forest Garden practitioners. The organization became a training partner with UNITAR in 2018.