I saw the potential to develop projects with really strong community, grassroots support. There was almost unanimous desire among the farmers I met to reforest their land.
Jenny Henman, Founder
In 2003 and 2004, Jenny Henman was living in Iquitos — a city in the Peruvian Amazon — researching the potential for smallholders with degraded farmlands to access carbon finances through reforestation activities, as part of her Masters’ degree at Brown University (USA). It was there that she met and got to know the poverty-stricken, smallholder farmers who owned the deforested land surrounding Iquitos, making long-lasting friendships with them and their families.
Rapid population increase, combined with limited employment opportunities meant these farmers had no other way to survive than to cut down the rainforest, grow crops and feed themselves and their families — literally subsisting. But once the rainforest was gone, so was the source of nutrients required to grow arable crops. Without the canopy cover provided by the trees, those soils were washed away by heavy rains common in the jungle. And so the next hectare of land was destroyed to repeat the same cycle.
The time Jenny spent with these farmers allowed her to understand the challenges they faced in returning to sustainable farming. After carrying out extensive consultation — including one-on-one interviews and workshops — she found they wanted meaningful long-term support to restore their land with orchards and productive agriculture, creating a better life for their families and escaping the poverty cycle they had become trapped in. She was determined to help them.
It was some years later on her return to the UK that Jenny founded Plant Your Future and fundraising began. Sponsored events and auctions with family and friends meant that enough funds were eventually raised to finance their first project — the planting and nurturing of 5000 trees under the care of 5 farming families in the villages of Varillal and Moralillo.
Since 2009, the charity has: