The Big Move: Relocating 25,000 seedlings in El Salvador

el salvador tree nursery

The small town of El Porvenir has been home to our Salvadoran tree nursery for many years, producing nearly 600,000 trees for reforestation efforts in El Salvador. Our dedicated local team, Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP), takes great pride in growing every tree from seed, caring for each seedling until it is ready to be planted on a local farm, protected area, or within local communities. These trees are, of course, important for environmental protection efforts. But beyond that, they also represent improved livelihoods, jobs, and nutrition for rural communities.

tree nursery el salvador
25,000 seeds planted and ready to be moved

For the past several years, we have been grateful to a local coffee producer for allowing us to use his land for our nursery operations. Unfortunately, we were recently notified that we could no longer use the land, as the coffee company had gone out of business. So, after spending many long days planting 25,000 tree seedlings and setting up the infrastructure for the season, the staff at AAP had to move the entire nursery to a new location in El Porvenir. Frustrating? Yes! But, tree planting must go on and nothing is going to get in the way of those efforts.

The tree nursery has been successfully relocated, but this is only a temporary solution. In the coming months, we will be working with AAP to search for land that we can buy, securing a location for our tree nursery for many years to come. Stay tuned for updates on our land search in El Salvador!

new tree nursery
Working the land at the new nursery location

Community Voices: Carlos Humberto Gonzalez

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing Manager

Carlos Humberto Gonzalez

Working with local farmers throughout Central America is an important part of grassroots natural resource conservation programs. These dedicated and hardworking individuals know the local land, watersheds, biodiversity, and soils better than anyone and they are dependent on a healthy environment for their livelihoods.

Carlos Humberto Gonzalez is one of these farmers that left a lasting impression on me and my colleagues. Carlos was born and raised on his family’s small farm, located on a hill overlooking the rural town of El Porvenir, El Salvador. Now that his mother and father have passed on, the responsibilities of running the farm are all his. He grows a variety of crops, including tomatoes, eggplant, citrus trees, corn, and coffee and depends on the land for his survival.

drip irrigationAs we toured his property, he showed us how he had created an innovative drip irrigation system for his crops using plastic soda bottles and gravity. This system saves precious water, which at the time was hard to come by due to severe drought conditions.

Through our partnership with Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo, we were able to add a touch of chocolate or cacao (Theobroma cacao) to his plot of coffee, helping to improve the soil quality and increase the biodiversity of his land. These 50 trees will also produce a high-quality product that he can sell at the local market, helping to support his family and business.

“My father would be proud of what I have accomplished with our farm and my family will be happy that I can sell more products at market. I am very happy to have these new trees.”

As we looked out over the beautiful countryside, and Carlos pointed out various landmarks in the distance, I could sense how dedicated he was to his land and his country. To support reforestation efforts in El Salvador is an honor and we look forward to supporting many more farmers in the future.

To learn more about our work in El Salvador please visit our wesbite.

Partner Spotlight: A Voice for Conservation in El Salvador

by Elliot Cooper, International Program Coordinator

Armando Hernandez, Director of Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo

Armando Hernandez has been Trees, Water & People’s link to sustainable reforestation and clean cookstove implementation in El Salvador since 2000. Currently the Director of Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP), this outgoing, gregarious, and considerate Salvadoreño has been the mastermind of these projects since the very beginning and, to this day, he continues to work as hard as he did more than a decade ago.

Don Armando, as he is known throughout the TWP office, is a courteous and respectful individual, always taking into account the well-being of his staff while balancing the needs and wants of the many communities he serves.

“This is a difficult country to work in because environmental awareness is only a secondary concern to the general population,” notes Don Armando. “In the communities we work in, there is a significant lack of jobs and opportunities for advancement, so people only worry about themselves and don’t think about the natural world that surrounds them.”

Even with the challenges that present themselves on a daily basis in El Salvador, Don Armando has overseen the planting of more than 555,000 trees and the successful construction of nearly 4,200 clean cookstoves.

“The best part of my job is contributing to the improvement of lives of not only individuals, but also families and communities through our projects. Whether it is stoves, reforestation, latrines, or soil conversation courses, we bring our environmental message to everyone in order to shift values and drastically improve lives of our fellow Salvadoreños.”

Armando Hernandez (center) with staff of Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo

Photo of the Week: Cacao makes coffe (and soil) even better!

reforestation el salvador
Don Carlos Humberto Gonzalez' plot of coffee gets a touch of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) with the help of TWP's reforestation program. We planted 50 Cacao trees on the farm of Don Carlos, a local farmer in El Porvenir, El Salvador. These 50 trees will improve the soil quality on the farm as well as produce delicious chocolate!

Learn more about our reforestation program by visiting

Notes from the Field: Meet Don Jorge Ochoa

Notes from the Field by Claudia Menendez, International Program Coordinator

May 2011: El Porvenir, El Salvador

I have seen a number of nurseries in my travels to El Salvador, but on this
hot and muggy April afternoon, the seedlings at our partner Árboles y Agua para elPueblo’s (AAP) nursery seem especially content. When I asked the Executive Director, Armando Hernandez, what his secret might be, he looked up and answered simply, “Don Jorge Ochoa.”

Mr. Jorge Alberto Dorado Ochoa began working in 2007, when Trees, Water & People (TWP) and AAP set up their operations in El Porvenir, El Salvador. He immediately set to work establishing the planting rows, preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and caring for those 30,000 newly established plants. Although Jorge was never formally trained as a forester, he learned empirically what each species preferred by spending countless hours among them, watering, weeding, and preventing the scourge of all nurseries – pests and fungi.

On this day, the corn on the west side of the nursery softly filters the afternoon sun and protects the tiny trees from wilting. On the other side is an abundant vegetable garden complete with cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cilantro,
basil, pineapples, papayas, and greens, effectively deterring pests from snacking on the seedlings. It was through his years of work on coffee plantations that Jorge grew to understand plant interactions and started practicing these creative and invaluable management tools.

Late last year, Jorge was diagnosed with prostate cancer and we were uncertain if he would continue working with Trees, Water & People.  As he stepped away from his position to care for his health, his absence in the nursery was felt by all. Throughout his illness, he would walk from his house to the nursery just to spend time with the plants he had worked so hard to nurture. With an amazing recovery, Jorge soon returned with renewed vigor and ambition.

“I feel strongly that my dedication to the nursery and the work of TWP gave me purpose and helped me recover my strength and health,” said Jorge about the TWP community.

After spending many an afternoon in this little nursery, I know that Jorge gives thanks each day for his job, his health, and every dollar that Trees, Water & People has contributed. Our supporters truly understand the value of his work and the jobs that our partners are bringing to these rural communities.