For generations, it’s been a tradition in Jamaican communities to commemorate the birth of babies by planting the newborn’s umbilical cord at the root of a tree seedling. This tradition became known in some communities as planting a “Baby Tree”.
As Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary of Independence, The Forestry Department, with the support of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is looking to breathe new life into this cultural tradition and support the achievement of planting three million trees under the National Tree Planting Initiative with the launch of its “Grow With Me” Campaign.
“The goal of the National Tree Planting Initiative is to plant a tree for every single Jamaican and with over 34,000 babies born in Jamaica every year, this is the perfect opportunity to revive this age-old tradition as well as to plant trees for the future of our new Jamaicans,” said Conservator of Forests and Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Department, Ainsley A. Henry. Through this campaign, the Forestry Department and Ministry of Health and Wellness will be providing a free seedling to the parents or guardians of every baby born in the public health system.
Henry continued, “This Jamaican tradition has always served multiple critical purposes. The act of planting a Baby Tree creates opportunities for special moments between the parent/guardian and the child through storytelling, it provides the child with a tangible reminder that their roots are here in Jamaica and is the first investment in the future on behalf of the child. With this
tradition and through the act of caring for and reaping benefits from the trees, we will also be raising generations of environmentally conscious Jamaicans who will hopefully have a greater appreciation for trees and nature.”
Parents or guardians of children born after October 2019 are invited to visit any of the Forestry Department’s nurseries located in Kingston, Williamsfield and Moneague or contact the Agency via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at (876) 618-3205 to arrange the collection of a free fruit, ornamental or timber seedling. The Forestry Department will also be making routine deliveries of seedlings to maternity clinics across the island over the next few months.