ARMENIA TREE PROJECT
Armenia Tree Project Establishes New Reforestation Nursery
Mirak Family Pledges $260,000 to Startup and Fund Operation
WATERTOWN, MA--In late 2005 just as Armenia Tree Project (ATP) was putting the finishing touches on its plans to establish a large-scale reforestation tree nursery in the Lori region, Jill Mirak called the Watertown office to discuss the family’s interest in supporting a new program.
After a meeting with sisters Jill and Jennifer Mirak and their father Robert, the family agreed to support the start-up and fund the operational costs of the nursery for the next four years with a pledge of $260,000 to ATP. “We were honored that the Mirak Family decided to support our new reforestation nursery in Margahovit village with such a generous donation,” stated ATP founder Carolyn Mugar.
Several years ago, ATP decided to initiate its reforestation programs in the areas of Armenia that were hardest hit by deforestation in the 1990s. The organization established backyard nurseries in the villages of the Getik River Valley and a rented land for a large reforestation nursery in Vanadzor. That operation is now being transferred to a new site in Margahovit village, owned and operated by ATP.
The 12-acre Margahovit nursery will have the capacity to produce millions of trees, which will be used to reforest the mountains and hills in the Lori region of northern Armenia. The nursery was established by ATP in Fall 2005, and already 250,000 seeds have been planted. In 2006, ATP plans to grow another 250,000 seedlings at the site, all of which will make a major contribution toward the organization’s eventual goal of planting one million trees a year.
“Our family supports other programs in Armenia, such as school renovations and the installation of playground equipment, but we were interested in increasing our level of giving to Armenia Tree Project,” stated Jill Mirak. “After hearing about the plans with this nursery, our family decided that this was a worthy program and a good investment in Armenia’s future.”
The Margahovit nursery will be named after the late John and Artemis Mirak, both survivors of the Armenian Genocide from Arapkir who moved to the United States. In the 1930s, John Mirak established the Arlington Center Garage and Service Corporation. With the involvement of sons Robert, Charles, and Edward, and now members of the third generation of the family, the businesses have expanded to include Mirak Chevrolet/Hyundai, Mirak Properties, and Mirak Leasing.
The Mirak Family has contributed to a number of other charitable and education institutions, including Arlington’s hospital, libraries and the preservation of historic structures, and the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, MA.
“My father had a grove of fruit trees on his property in Florida, and I can remember how much time he would spend outdoors tending those trees,” stated Dr. Robert Mirak. “We are certain that ATP will ensure the legacy of my parents with this nursery, and I know my father and mother would have been very proud to support a program like this as a way of rehabilitating that which was lost in Armenia.”
“We purchased the land and broke ground on this nursery with virtually no problem, so we are off to a great start in Margahovit,” noted ATP Executive Director Jeff Masarjian. “The Mirak Family nursery will play a vital role in the restoration of the forests in the Lori region, and it will provide employment and the trees to put our program on a path of exponential growth to help ensure sustainability in Armenia.”
ATP was founded in 1994 with the vision of securing Armenia’s future by protecting its environment and restoring its degraded forests. ATP advances Armenia’s socio-economic development by mobilizing resources to fund large-scale reforestation, community-based tree planting, environmental education and advocacy, and rural development through job creation. ATP uses trees to improve the standard of living of Armenians, promoting self-sufficiency and aiding those with fewest resources first.
In just over 11 years, ATP has planted and rejuvenated over 750,000 trees at more than 500 sites in Armenia. With the establishment of the new Mirak Family reforestation nursery in Margahovit and expansion of the backyard nursery program in the Getik River Valley, ATP hopes to plant over one million trees in 2006.