AYNI’s first larger scale development project was our Community Tamarindo Orchard. Driven by wanting to do more than help out in immediate crises, Ayni sought to do something more long term and sustainable, so in October 2004, we started our community tamarindo orchard of 300 trees.
Margie discovered that the school owned land that had been donated by the parents association, which was abandoned and never really used. Upon investigation, it was found that the land was very salty and very difficult to grow anything on. However, Margie’s husband had suggested that the “Tamarindo tree,” which was native to the area, and would likely be able to survive these typical dry, salty, desert conditions. So hence began our orchard.
The idea was that an orchard could eventually generate income through the future sales of fruit, and then it could be invested back into the community through existing or new projects. Thus if AYNI ceased to exist one day, or Margie decided to take a back seat to management, which is already under way, then the projects could continue past their existence, and be managed by the community entirely.
Therefore the parents in the community rallied together to clear the land, build the canals, build the fence, plant the trees and so on, while Margie & some volunteers fundraised to cover all the initial and ongoing costs of the field.
However the field has not been without its major obstacles. The scorching sun, and the high levels of salt has led to the slow demise of the tamarindo field. After 9 years of trying to tackle these issues, unfortunately many of the trees have died, along with the dream of it providing future funds.
Since most of the trees cannot be resurrected, the community decided to use the trees for much needed fire wood.