The Give a Tree Story

About us

Our Mission

To actively promote the growth of food-forestry worldwide by connecting projects, donors and experts, whilst becoming part of the new economy of companies that do good.

Our Objectives

Give a Tree is a company with two main goals.

The first is to bring together people who are implementing food forest projects with people who want to support them financially. In other words, creating a platform where food foresters can show off their projects and members of the public can support them by sponsoring tree planting, bee-keeping and other related activities.

The second is to create a community of food forest ambassadors who will help to promote this world-wide movement, support each other, and exchange experience, skills and knowledge. We want to become the link between the curious, the expert, the practitioner, the consultant, the service provider and the consumer. The need is immense, the potential is infinite and the knowledge is out there.

Guiding Principles

Transparency. We are a profit-making company, but we view profit as the result of our activities, not the objective of our activities. We are transparent with our partners and donors as to how money is generated and applied.

Beyond sustainability. We aim to support food-forestry projects that go beyond sustainability by regenerating soils, landscapes and ecosystems, whilst also contributing to - amongst other things - local community resilience, food security, education, poverty reduction and climate change mitigation.

Connectivity. We consider creating connections a vital part of our mission. We want to ensure that donors feel a personal connection with the projects they support and that projects can connect with each other to share and learn.

Our team

Mareile Paley

founder · creative director · social media

After having lived, worked and traveled all over the world, I finally found my soul place in Portugal. It was here that my family and I were first introduced to the concept of food forests and syntropic farming. While building our own food forest we asked our friends and family to help us by adopting the 70 fruit trees we planted. The generosity, shared passion and feeling of community we experienced through this spontaneous initiative ultimately resulted in the creation of Give A Tree.

With a multidisciplinary background as a Graphic Designer in Hong Kong, Wellness Retreat Host all over Asia, Pilates & Yoga teacher in Turkey, and Knowledge Manager for the UN in Afghanistan, I feel perfectly suited to grow a global community of food forest ambassadors from my homebase in Portugal. There has never been a better time to unite passion, experience and community to work together towards a regenerative future.

On a daily level, I try to spend more time away from than in front of the computer - a mission that is not always successful, but which I am trying extra hard to enforce upon my two homeschooled boys.

email Mareile

REBECCA PHILLIPS MARQUES

founder · chief sustainability officer · community relations

I am a Londoner living in Portugal with my Portuguese husband and three children. I took a Masters Degree in Development Studies at SOAS, which inspired me to leave the UK and go and live in Northern Mozambique. I never looked back!

I first became interested in food forests via syntropic farming as a means to resolve the kinds of agricultural and environmental problems that I saw so often whilst living in Africa. During my 14 years there I worked closely with farming communities and witnessed degraded soils, disappearing forests and dwindling biodiversity, alongside poverty, food insecurity and low productivity. Food forestry addresses all these issues. Since then I have taken a course in syntropic agriculture taught by Ernst Gotsch, done some small-scale experimentation and have been spreading the word to whoever will listen. I passionately believe that regenerative agriculture is essential to addressing many of the most pressing social, economic and environmental issues we are facing globally in an era of climate change, and that the more people unite in this cause the faster we can get there.

On a personal level, I love to practice yoga, walk, read, cook, dance and travel and I believe that swimming in the ocean is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

email Rebecca

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a food forest?

Food forests are a form of agriculture that mimic a natural forest so as to provide food crops. They are diverse in terms of species and typically include other food plants besides trees such as bushes, vegetables, vines and roots crops, as well as plants that are useful within the system but that are not edible.

Who can create a food forest?

Anyone with access to a piece of land. Food forests can be small or large, for personal use or commercial, and can be established anywhere in the world where plants can grow.

What’s so great about food forests?

Food forests are highly productive, environmentally friendly and adaptable to any context. They actively contribute to soil fertility and quality by building up organic matter and they sequester carbon in plants and the soil. They are regenerative not extractive, as intensive commercial farming is. They may require inputs in the form of natural fertilizers and irrigation in the beginning, but often become self-sustaining. They attract wildlife, restore groundwater and feed people. Find out more on our Learn & Share Page (add link).

What’s the difference between a food forest, syntropic farming and permaculture?

Permaculture is a way of life that envisages closed-circle, zero-waste systems, one element of which is food production. A food forest can be part of a permaculture system, or a stand-alone project. Syntropic agriculture is a methodology for growing food forests that involves replicating and accelerating natural systems of plant growth and nutrient recycling.

Is Give a Tree a non-profit organisation?

No, Give a Tree is a company. We aspire to become a B-corporation, participating in a new economy of companies with positive social and environmental impacts, and contributing to achieving the UN’s SDGs (links).

How does Give a Tree work?

We select projects from around the world that are planting food forests and engaging in regenerative agriculture. They provide us with information about their project and in particular the trees, bee hives and other elements which they would like to be sponsored. We profile the projects on our site and members of the public can view them and choose who and how much to sponsor. We take a commission on the sponsorship so as to cover our working costs and the remaining amount is sent on to the project. We require projects to provide feedback on the implementation of their plans to us and to sponsors.

What do I get in return for sponsoring a project?

The priceless feeling of contributing to a good cause! But also feedback in the form of emails and photos from the project you have selected and specific information about the features you have sponsored. Individual projects may choose to provide other rewards for your support. You will gain a personal connection to that project. Most importantly you will become a FOOD FOREST AMBASSADOR.

What is a food forest ambassador?

A food forest ambassador is anyone who becomes involved in growing the global food forest movement. This includes sponsors - who we hope will share information about the project they have sponsored and encourage others to get involved - people who are planting and maintaining food forests, those who offer professional services to food foresters, teachers, trainers and enthusiasts.

What happens if a project doesn’t meet its funding goal?

Projects are featured on our site for 60-90 days. At the end of that period, they are moved to our Partners page where they can continue to promote their activities. Those that have reached their sponsorship target become our Success Stories. Those who have not yet reached their target become Ongoing Projects that continue to seek sponsors.

How can you be sure that the funding is correctly applied?

We require that partners provide photographic proof of trees and hives that have been sponsored, along with updates on their activities for 6 months after sponsorship. Projects are carefully selected through interview, recommendations from existing partners and when necessary field visits.

How can I be sure my tree will survive?

All our projects love their trees, but different plants play different roles in a food forest over time. Sometimes a tree may have to be removed, maybe due to overcrowding, some plants have limited lifespans, and some inevitably will not make it. When a tree that has been sponsored dies prematurely or is removed our partner projects are expected to replace them at their own cost, so that the sponsorship will endure.

How soon will my trees be planted?

Many of the trees offered for sponsorship have already been planted, most within the last year. Some will be planted soon after sponsorship. Often the cost of the tree itself is just a small part of the overall cost of planting and maintaining a food forest. If your tree is already in the ground, your sponsorship will be used to care for your tree, maintain and improve the food forest and possibly expand the system with new plants. Older, established or very old trees are usually offered as Unique Opportunities.