• Vela Georgiev

Where Eagles Soar & Rainbows Touch the Ground

The story of 25,000 trees planted one at a time


This short essay shares my ag origin story and is in part how I came to be COO & Operating Partner at Tenacious Ventures, a VC firm enabling impact and innovation at the intersection of digitally native agriculture and climate solutions.



In August 2009, I received a most unorthodox invitation.


It read, “Come and plant trees for Landcare where eagles soar and rainbows touch the ground. Bring sturdy footwear, all-weather gear, and, if you have them, Hamilton tree-planters!” I had no idea what to make of this.


Here I was, a city girl, not even a pot plant, being invited to a tree planting farm/housewarming party.


The call of nature.


That September, at the behest of my friend and with butterflies in my stomach, I ventured into the unknown - the countryside of South East Gippsland - to help plant trees for a Landcare revegetation project/farm housewarming party.


Teamwork makes the dream work.


We made a great team, my friend and I. Me, not actually wanting to get my hands dirty but having the strength to wield the Hamilton Planter. And her, for whom dirty hands were not a problem!


We fell into an easy rhythm, working tirelessly, planting trees in the dirt for nature.


I walked ahead with the Hamilton Tree Planter at the ready. Every few meters, I would spear it into the ground, thrusting all my weight behind it to drive it deep into the ground. Then, with a quick twist of the handle, a clump of dirt would become loose, leaving behind a perfectly formed hole into which my friend could plant a seedling.


We planted a few thousand trees that day.


It was the most magnificent of days. Clear blue skies. Crisp, fresh air. Wholesome farm food to power us through the day. Spirits high, buoyed by the sweet sound of music in the wind - an impromptu performance by a young cellist on the side of the hill.


As dusk came, and we were all but done for the day, I took off my gardening gloves.


Carefully, I shook the last tree seedling loose from its tube, placed it in the ground, and tampered the dirt around it, getting my hands dirty in the process. For all my time on this earth, this was the first time I truly experienced a connection to country, to earth, and to nature. Emotions were running high - exhaustion, exhilaration, and gratitude.


I had finally given something back to nature. As an urbanite, I had only ever taken.


A Christmas Koala.


I have gone back many times to plant trees on my friend’s farm in the years since.


The gullies and hills are now rich with vegetation. Seedlings turned to strapping trees, growing magnificently and enhancing the environment, providing habitat for birds and animals and oxygen for the planet. Last Christmas, we were even blessed with a koala sighting!



 

Side Note


"Where Eagles Soar and Rainbows touch the Ground" refers to the meaning of the indigenous names given to the two adjoining farms where we planted the trees. The tree planting invitation was accompanied by these two photos, which beautifully capture the essence of the names.


These photos were taken ten years after the first tree planting. Landcare provided a selection of appropriate indigenous species (native trees, shrubs, grasses) for us to plant; ensuring enhanced biodiversity, suitability to local conditions & habitat for native animals.


European settlers extensively cleared land in this area. Revegetation projects aim to halt erosion on steep slopes and stream sides; though land holders also plant shelter belts, wildlife corridors between areas of remnant vegetation & areas of new wildlife habitat.


Landcare revegetation projects in the Bena Kongwak area of South East Gippsland have been successful in creating wildlife corridors, shade and shelter for livestock, and protecting the Giant Gippsland Worm habitat.