By Jeanmarie Papelian
UPDATE: We did it! Thanks to your generous support we raised 120% toward our goal of $10,000 to renovate our nursery and greenhouse in Karin.
It didn’t take long after our founding in 1994 to realize we needed to establish our own nursery. This allows us to monitor the quality and cost of our tree seedlings. We selected sites in the villages of Karin and Khachpar, newly established for Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan. The co-benefit was that we could provide jobs, and we became one of the only employers in the area.
Fast forward to 2016 and the nursery in Karin Village is a green oasis in an otherwise dry and quiet area on the outskirts of Ashtarak. In fact, we host hundreds of visitors there including diasporans, researchers and schoolchildren. An environmental education center was inaugurated in 2004 by Virginia Ohanian in honor of her late husband Michael. Soon after, our greenhouse was named in memory of James and Evelyn (Talanian) Mukjian.
The Mukjian Greenhouse is an incubator for new trees. It is used to speed up plant growth. We propagate seeds and tree cuttings in the greenhouse which are high maintenance or have difficulty growing outdoors. The site is also used for experiments with various types of fertilizers, for example. Shrubs start out in the greenhouse, and the structure helps to ensure a high rate of survival for these delicate young plants.
Now for some bad news. We received an urgent update from our country director Lucineh Kassarjian that a July hailstorm damaged crops, fruit trees and even buildings in the region. As you can see from the photos, the fruit and trees in our nursery were damaged along with our greenhouse roof.
Here’s what Lucineh wrote: “The seedlings are hurt but not destroyed. The lush green leaves are damaged which will halt the growth but luckily they are not dead. Most of the fruit is gone. The nursery workers have been collecting whatever seeds are possible to save for future use. We had a gorgeous apricot crop this year and all of it is gone. The fruit on the trees were bombarded by huge balls of hail. Same with plums.”
Our team assessed the damage, which will cost at least $10,000 to repair. With your help, here’s what we have planned for the recovery of the site:
• Replace the plastic greenhouse cover and older parts of the structure
• Repaint and rejuvenate areas of the building that were damaged by hail
• Invest in hail netting to protect from future storms
The good news is that your support of this reconstruction will be doubled! A generous donor has agreed to match all gifts made via our website for a total of $5,000 through the end of September. So, we need to raise $5,000 to take advantage of this generous offer.
This storm was unfortunate, but your support is needed now more than ever so we can rebuild and replant. Please support our Karin crowdfunding appeal so we can bring this superb facility back up and running to serve the local, regional and national population with tens of thousands of trees each season. Thank you!