Catherine, had been planting in Scotland for a few months. We caught up with her on the side of a rocky hill to ask a few questions.
Under what circumstances did you decide to try tree planting?
I decided to try tree planting when a friend suggested it to me as a quick way of making money, so i could pay to get my dog out of quarantine after he got taken by the authorities after our trip to Peru. i also always like the idea of tree planting, and i heard it is a great way to make money fast. I thought if i stuck at it maybe i could make some money towards buying some land so i could have the garden of my dreams and somewhere to call home.
What have been some of the unexpected benefits of planting?
Im optimistic so there were no unexpected benefits, i new i would make some beautiful friends, i new i would be captured by the trees and filled with energy and love for the work. I new i would see beautiful places and have a lot of fun. But i didn't count on the unexpected downsides.
Oh one unexpected benefit, i loved using the post basher, and became really really strong.
What are the biggest challenges?
The downsides/ challenges were my own ability to deal with the repetitiveness of the job, my mind would be doing all kinds of tricks trying to get me to stop, creating poems that begged to be written, creating pictures that begged to be painted, offering me all kinds of alternative things that i should have been doing beside spade in ground, hand in bag tree in hole, foot on roots, next......over 1000 times per day. My mind would say you too intelligent for this, your wasting yourself. But then when you look over your shoulder and see you planted a forest. It all makes sense.
Planting in baked clay is horrible my thumb still jams up and I have to click it into place. Some days you can hardly plant any trees and you have driven for miles but you dont make much money. Some days your soaking wet and cold, and you feel like you have been in the trenches all day and your completly propped up by coffee. But then enters the sense of humour and everyone seems to take on a type of mania that keeps it fun.
What other jobs have you worked?
Other jobs ive worked, fashion designer, shepherdess, cook, zoo keeper, gardener, permaculture teacher, permaculture consultant, artist.
How have the relationships you’ve made through planting changed your life?
It would be hard to say how the relationships changed my life as everything and everyone changes my life all the time. it was more the whole thing that changed my life, it kicked me up the ass to be braver in my permaculture work and take more responsibility, it also showed me how to plant implement and manage teams to plant massive forests which i´m now confident doing in my work as a permaculture consultant. And thanks to the experience with gone west i am managing the implementation of a 30 hectare food forest in Guatemala.
How has the money changed your life?
The money got splurged pretty fast, my dog got bailed out by a community of international on a freinds and associates on a crowd funding campaign in the first week. Then i used it to pay his vets bills. Then i bought a van fixed it up and me and my dog went traveling around Portugal looking for land, i blew the rest of the money on the van breaking down and having to fix it. I guess all in all it was a lesson on how important stability is for me, and that really my heart is in Guatemala. The money facilitated a quick romance with Portugal so i could know my true home is latin america. However during my time in Portugal i did learn to build a lake, which is priceless.
And lastly, what piece of advice would you give to any new planter?
Advice i would give, be brave have courage, warm water proof jacket, good boots, look after your hands, eat well, learn the species and ecology so you can be inspired. look after the other planters. your only as strong as your team.