Last spring we planted 3200 trees in the City of Skopje area. For the autumn planting we had different plans, Berovo was in our mind. As magical the universe works with Treebanks our plans extended a bit. So, why Ajvatovci? The answer lays in out Treebanks inbox. One Monday in February 2022 a message from Ljupco Bozinovski dropped in our inbox:
With the Municipal Fireproof Department Union- Ilinden we have done tens tree planting actions in the territory of Municipality of Ilnden. Unfortunately, these are small plantings, the union gathers the funds itself and buy small seedlings or it has small donations from the Forestry Faculty of Skopje
The message continued:
With the union we applied for grants for afforestation (three times), unfortunately without success. We have a wish and people for work but we don’t have funds to buy the trees i.e the seedlings
When someone openly shows initiative and enthusiasm like Ljupcho, we are all ears. Despite we were busy organising the Endava thank you forest and our planting at Rashtak, we wrote to Ljupcho if we gather enough funds we might do something in November 2022.
Everything led to planting in Ajvatovci?
As the time went by the universe slowly aligned everything so we can plant in Ajvatovci. In March, Social Friday contacted us for possible collaboration with Treebanks.
What is Social Friday? – you are probably wondering. “Social Friday is a global CSR initiative that turns unproductive Friday afternoons into social awareness and organized acts of generosity.” The idea is companies to dedicate one Friday quarterly to a social cause. Well, Social Friday Q4 date and Treebanks autumn plantings are overlapping. Hence, we got ourselves a crowd that wants to volunteer.
Additionally, the host of Social Friday in Macedonia, Breon, donated a tree for each of their newsletter subscribers, 500 seedlings in total. Social Friday wanted the activity to be close to Skopje so they can keep their travel carbon footprint low (how sweet is that?). Well.. We don’’t want to imply but Ajvatovci is in Skopje :). In a way planting this autumn in Ajvatovci was set.
But the story does not end here. In October we put Treebanks in full throttle and started organizing the plantings for the season. A message hit our inbox:
“Hi Treebanks, A big client of ours wants to donate for your tree plantings. How that works? …” – Katerina emailed us.
Late, this big client turned out to be the mobile operator A1. Their cool idea was to plant trees as loud as they will sing. The amount of trees equals the amount of decibels they sang multiplied by 10. Based on this equation A1 are 1190 trees loud. We do hope that A1s legal team will start to work fast as loud A1 can sing. To reach 2000 trees in Ajvatovci we added all our trees gathered through our affiliate links.
The tree planting setup
It took 100s of phone calls, 100s of emails, 10s of meetings, few on site visits to make Ajvatovci planting possible. The planting day has come. It is 5am. Piece by piece, hoes, drills, seedlings, we put all of our equipment in the trailer. The team is getting ready for the drive from Radovish to Skopje.
The Ajvatovci journey started. Busy rather enjoyable day is ahead of us. We expect more than 100 volunteers to join us. When it is party we rock hard. Quarter past 8am the first volunteer welcomes us in Ajvatovci. It is uncle Ljupco from the fireproof union. It is a different Ljupco. The legend in Ajvatovci says if you shout out “Ljupcho!!!” someone will respond back. We met few more Ljupcos during the day.
Slowly. Our planting setup formed. Uncle Ljupcho took our equipment up the hill. Paki from Cafe bar Che arrived and set the hot drinks, snack stand. In the meantime, our team the other volunteers from the fireproof union were planting. Everything looked like an idillic symphony, its slow burning calmness indirectly was announcing the fore-coming climax.
The planting in Ajvatovci
Boom! The photographer is here. Social Friday volunteers are here, our volunteers and the young EU ambassadors are here. The Municipality of Ilinden office is calling to let us now when the mayor is going to arrive. It is crowded!
As on every planting we explained how trees are planted and what kind of trees we are planting. In Ajvatovci we planted 1000 Arizona cypress, 500 black locust and 500 (few different varieties) of oak seedlings.
We divided the crowd in smaller groups and repeated the planting instructions. Between the crowd there were the students from the Faculty of Forestry Skopje from the student organisation “Dren”. They brought pamphlet how to plant trees that helped a lot. Hole by hole, tree by tree, open a hole, put a tree, close the hole, check the tree, each group planted trees in their own plowed line.
The local kids
As I said above “When we party we rock hard”. As the planting went by, we noticed a big group of kids on the opposite hill coming towards us. “They are coming for you” – my father said. Despite the actual planting, with the kids we do educational component, we explain why we plant trees, what’s their importance and of course at the end the kids plant trees by themselves. For the kids, we drilled holes so they can plant trees with ease. There was running around, talking and planting. The school kids even gave autograph to the mayor of municipality of Ilinden. Joking a bit, the mayor came and planted trees together with the kids from the school.
After a lot of, open hole, put tree, close hole the time to replenish our energy came. When we are planting in the Skopje area, the hot drinks and snacks stand is by Cafe Bar Che. As the last time behind the stand is the charismatic Paki (Aleksandar Arsovski). What was different this time we had fresh made hot-dogs. Cafe bar Che always surprises as with their crazy ideas. As conversions go, many different subjects were buzzing from crowd. The most important thing. Everyone was satisfied with the great things we are doing today.
After the tasty snack, we did a short drone photo shoot. Kids went back to school and the volunteers moved to a different position on the hill. A planting with a view over the Skopje Airport. We hope that, in the future traveler’s will see our forest from the sky. When things are close to finish and the end is around the corner, the general motivation drops. But we have been here and we know how things are. The Treebanks team together with our all time volunteers Petar, Andrea and Goran we planted the last trees.
The thank you
From the preconception until the end, there was always positive energy. While I write this blog, reminisce of memories goes trough my mind. I think. Even if we planned to join Social Friday, Treebanks, Ljupco and the Fireproof Union things wouldn’t turned out the way they did. Sometimes you need to wait a bit, zoom out and the universe will deliver.
Just before we left. Ljupcho Bozinovski greeted and thanked us (Treebanks) for responding to his request, for organising the tree planting action. Ljupcho gave us official thank you certificate from the Fireproof Union. In addition to all of the official thank yous. Ljupcho gave us a frame, not just a frame, a frame with the Treebanks logo made from sirma by his mother. Ljupcho’s act is what Macedonian hospitality is. If we ever open a Treebanks office this will be the first thing we are going to hang.
Big thanks to Ljupcho Bozinovski, the Municipal Fireproof Department Union – Ilinden, the Social Friday initiative and its volunteers, The young EU ambassadors and the Municipality of Ilinden.
At the end big thank you to Petar Efnushev, Andrea and Goran Jakovchevski volunteers that are frequently helping us.