Sembrando Vida, an initiative with environmental and social responsibility
Even at the very start of their interview with Karem, environmental control technologist and entrepreneur of the Sembrando Vida initiative (Seeding Life in English), the Rural Youth Innovation Award team was already convinced of her transformative power. The young woman trusts both in the reforestation of her region and in its rural youth, these passionate actors of change whom, like her, do not hesitate to take risks or to have big dreams.
Sembrando Vida started as a forest nursery project Karem ran with her family, and it could have gone unnoticed if she had not decided to go beyond a simple nursery for selling plants. A year and a half ago, she decided to organize a tree sponsorship campaign, focused on the recovery of her region’s native species. The campaign had a massive response: 150 people joined with their families, motivated by the idea of sponsoring a tree, monitoring its growth and giving it a name. A symbolic act, sometimes in memory of a deceased relative or to celebrate the birth of a child, making the tree a witness to life.
But Sembrando Vida has gone far beyond even the region of Alaska in Valle del Cauca, Colombia: foreigners from the United States, Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Spain have joined the project and continued to monitor the growth of their trees. Due in part to these distant godparents who might “visit”, Karem is now thinking of creating a georeferencing platform.
“This initiative was born out of necessity,” she told us. Convinced that reforestation must go hand in hand with social inclusion, she has managed to involve and gather support from the inhabitants of the community who all understand the touristic value that the initiative has. Employment scarcity is a problem in this eminently agricultural region of Colombia, which produces a lot of sugar cane and has been greatly affected by the country’s armed conflict. For this reason, Karem seeks to create formal, permanent jobs with her initiative, especially for female-headed households. Sembrando Vida, besides doing climate action work is also generating new horizons for an effective and lasting peace in the area. Currently, two women are working with her, collaborating mainly in the collection of seeds in the forest and with the seedlings in the nursery.
When the trees reach an average height of one meter, they are ready for planting. This way, Karem guarantees the rooting and survival of their native species. Among them, trees such as Jacaranda, trumpet, tulip, walnut, yarumo, cedar, oak or caímos abound, which also give many flowers, fruits and seeds and attract birds in the area.
It is worth mentioning that Sembrando Vida was awarded by the Rural Youth Innovation Award in the “Climate Action” category. This is because in addition to the conservation and reforestation work, the initiative aims to ensure water access for local inhabitants. Truly a project with a global vision that is already benefiting many people and the environment.
Now Karem wants to expand the loaned nursery in Alaska with more native species and continue increasing its social networks so that the phenomenon becomes viral. “My idea is that we plant trees all over the planet and guarantee clean air, fauna and flora for everyone,” she said. And surely she will not stop until she gets a nursery of her own. Meanwhile, Karem continues to seed life in Valle del Cauca, but she is also harvesting work and hoping for results in social inclusion. Beyond the environmental impact, her initiative is changing people’s minds. What about you, have you sponsored a tree yet?