Extreme Challenge: Planting a Mini-Forest

Vasi Chindris / Jan 10, 2024

At Amazee Labs, we're encouraged to embrace the extraordinary and pursue challenges that ignite our passions. And after three years of working here, we get the chance to do something extreme for one month.

Hi, I'm Vasi, a web developer with a journey spanning more than a decade at this incredible company, and this year, I embarked on my extreme challenge – to plant  1,000 trees in just 30 days. While tree planting has always been something I love doing, I decided to take it to the next level by cultivating a small forest within a short time frame. Join me as I dive into the motivations, trials, and tribulations of my journey.

Motivation behind the Challenge

Why plant 1,000 trees in a month? Trees are my passion—they symbolise growth, life, and a tangible way to give back to nature. I wanted to channel my hobby into something meaningful for the community. It’s such a great outdoor activity, and the fact that you can see them growing year-on-year is also very rewarding. 

While 1,000 trees won’t fix the planet, environmental conservation did play a part in my motivation. I hope that my action will create a ripple effect and make other people plant trees too, so that we can create a larger collective impact.

This challenge felt like a natural extension of my core values and goals. I’ve always valued nature and strived to preserve it. Even though I haven’t had such fixed goals in the past, over the last four to five years, I have aimed to plant more trees, and successfully achieved 9-10 trees annually. This extreme challenge extended that commitment, pushing my boundaries to see what I could achieve.

Finding a location and sourcing trees

The planning process was relatively easy, except for one thing – finding a suitable location close to home. The proximity to my family was very important because I couldn’t leave my wife alone with our three children and disappear into the mountains for a month.  I contacted local authorities, explained my plan and asked whether there were any specific locations where they would like to create or extend a forest. 

Initially, I’m sure they didn’t take me seriously and just saw a relatively skinny guy wanting to dig a lot of holes. But, they provided a location with space for around 100 trees. As this was far from my goal, I expanded my search and spoke to private landowners and farmers from around Timisoara.

Eventually, I connected with a farmer who had land near an existing forest about 25 km from my home. He couldn’t use the land for other farming purposes, so he was happy to support my mission.

Logistics, like sourcing trees from a supplier and acquiring additional tools, were relatively straightforward. I bought the saplings online and they were delivered directly to my home.

Come rain or shine

The real challenge, however, lay in dealing with adverse weather conditions and challenging terrain. Planting trees in the wilderness proved to be a humbling experience. The physicality of navigating muddy terrain, dealing with stubborn soil, and transporting tools reinforced my connection with nature. The magnitude of the task also made me realise the sheer effort and dedication required to achieve the goal of planting 1,000 trees.

The journey of planting these trees unfolded week by week, with each stage presenting its own set of challenges and triumphs. The initial weeks were marked by struggles with dry soil, making digging holes very challenging. The location where the trees were to be planted was initially covered with bushes, so those had to be fully removed first. Luckily, the landowner did that! 

As there was little rain until the beginning of November, the soil was incredibly dry which made digging the holes backbreaking work. Happily, by the end of the first week, the first trees were planted.

Progress was slow, but perseverance was key. As the weeks passed and rain improved soil conditions, the process became more manageable. However, the rain also brought its challenges. I needed to park nearly one kilometre away from the field due to muddy conditions, and this meant carrying the saplings and my tools – I could only carry the trees in batches of 100, so for this alone, I had to make ten trips.

By the final week, the soil was almost perfect which meant that all holes could be dug, and this was a turning point, with nearly 700 trees taking root in optimal weather conditions. While I wasn’t able to plant all 1,000 trees within the one-month timeframe, I was able to plant the remaining trees in December, which is ultimately what I’d hoped to achieve.

Looking forward

While plans to involve local school children didn’t materialise, the aim remains to engage the community in further tree-planting activities. Organising and synchronising our schedules proved tricky, but I hope to plan a 1-day tree planting exercise soon. This time around, it was lovely to have the chance to involve my children and see how much they got out of the experience.

Beyond the immediate benefits, the ecological impact of these trees is substantial. 1000 Black locust trees will absorb 5.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 30 years and have long-term benefits such as enhancing soil quality. Bees also love their flowers and the trees will produce 150kg of nectar to support their honey production.

Even though there were no major surprises along the way, one realisation was that 1000 is a very big number! When we talk about or use numbers in our day-to-day life, 1000 might not seem such a big number. But when you have to do something 1000 times, things can get much more challenging.

Final thoughts

Firstly, planting trees is an excellent outdoor activity and lots of fun! Yes, it can be hard, especially if you do it alone, but the connection to nature is a beautiful thing. All I hope to do is encourage more people to take the time and give back to our planet, and the cumulative effect will make a difference.

Throughout this journey, the realisation dawned on me: numbers on paper transform into substantial effort and dedication when put into action. It's more than just planting trees; it’s a journey of connection with nature, an opportunity to inspire the next generation.

Most importantly, I’d like to thank my wife and kids for all their support, but especially my wife because taking care of three kids (pretty much alone and sometimes all day long) was also a challenge in its own right.

Then of course I’d like to thank Amazee Labs for allowing me to have one month off doing something that I love to do (besides coding) and not worry about work at all. On top of this, thanks to all the people who worked, or are working, at Amazee Labs who sent me supportive messages and videos. That was both inspiring and motivating!

This challenge has been immensely rewarding, reminding me that small acts, when multiplied, can indeed create meaningful change. Let's continue planting seeds of change, one tree at a time.