by Jeanmarie Papelian
Viva Chiva! That was our silly slogan as we drove south last month to break ground on ATP’s new nursery in Vayots Dzor. Our nurseries have provided hundreds of thousands of trees and much-needed jobs over the past 10-20 years. The new site in Chiva will greatly expand our operations in southern Armenia and Artsakh.
The Chiva Nursery is located in an area identified as a cradle of winemaking in ancient accounts. The eighth century BC kings of Urartu referred to Armenia as “the land of the vineyards” and Assyrian armies marveled at its vast quantities of fruit trees and vines. In a cave just a few miles from Chiva, archaeologists from UCLA and the Armenian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography unearthed evidence of the world’s oldest winery, dated at 6,000 years old! The region is undergoing a renaissance in winemaking.
During my visit to Armenia in October, I had an opportunity to spend time with the people planting your trees. Team leader Karine Stepanyan, pictured here with our wild apple seedlings, is from Stepanavan. She’s worked with us for five years. Her son also worked for us before joining the army. He’s stationed in Artsakh. Karine told me that she works several jobs to make ends meet, and she loves the planting season because ATP does good work and treats its workers well.
I’m proud to call her a friend and colleague. As of this writing, our team is planting 200,000 trees in our forests and providing another 25,000 decorative and fruit trees to communities throughout Armenia and Artsakh. These are above and beyond the five million trees we have planted since 1994.
This year we introduced the theme of “Get Rooted” with t-shirts, expanded our presence on the Internet and opened up our operations to public tours. We hosted seven group tours to our nursery in 2016 and hope to see you there next year!
Get Rooted means many things to many people. I was especially moved by the description from Rachel Boloyan, our controller who ensures transparency for our fundraising and expenditures. Here’s how she described the idea: “I regard #GetRooted as a call to take action. Join our cause. Whether you plant a tree, make a donation, volunteer your time/services, or simply like us on Facebook, do something. Don’t be passive.”
This year we have a special offer for you. We created a 2017 calendar around the theme of youth and trees. As you know, environmental education is at the heart of what we are doing. Planting a tree expresses hope for Armenia’s future, and educating young people about the meaning and importance of this work will ensure that your trees are protected well into the future.
Our calendar features the photography of Ani Melkonian, a young and vibrant member of our Yerevan staff. We will send you a copy of the calendar (while supplies last) for any donation of $100 or more. Please respond today and you can make ATP a part of every day.
Thank you for being a part of the ATP Family. On behalf of our thousands of program beneficiaries, have a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas!