St. Joseph’s Hill Tree Planting Project Grows Deeper Roots

The St. Joseph’s Hill Secondary School (SJHSS) Tree Planting Project was initiated in 2019 by Fr. Richard Potthast, C.S.C., to meet the growing need for firewood by the school as 4,000 trees are harvested annually to supply the kitchen with firewood for cooking. Ten acres of land were purchased in 2019 and only four acres planted at the time. Through the generosity of benefactors, the Mission Center was able to fund the clearing and planting of the remaining six acres in December 2023 (pictures below).

SJHSS purchased 40,000 eucalyptus seedlings from a local nursery and employed fifty individuals from the local village to clear and prepare the land and plant and water the seedlings. As December, January, and February are the driest months in Uganda, a trench was dug to easily transport water from the nearby stream.

The Tree Planting Project will continue to benefit SJHSS for the next 10+ years. As the school continues to harvest the trees planted in 2019, the seedlings that were planted in December 2023 will be ready to harvest in 2028. With a current student enrollment of 545 and a capacity of 600 students, the cost of firewood can be a very large expense for the school to keep the kitchen running efficiently. Having their own trees to harvest keeps the cost of firewood to a minimum, only having to pay for cutting and transportation whereas schools that buy firewood incur double the cost. The recently planted seedlings will also be an educational resource for students as they study environment preservation as part of the lower-secondary curriculum.

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Published: March 28, 2024

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