Meet 5 Of The Women Reforesting The World – tentree

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Meet 5 Of The Women Reforesting The World

Meet 5 Of The Women Reforesting The World

Tree planting is a tough job, there really is no getting around that. For some, there's a pre-conceived notion that tough jobs are guys' jobs, but that couldn't be further from the truth! There are many women out there helping to replant the world's trees. We interviewed 5 of them to hear their experiences. Here's what they each had to say.

Jenn Clements (5 Years Planting)

What's the bathroom / sleeping / shower situation like?

If you like pooping in a hole and showering with a hose… then its awesome! (Its not that bad). The showers i’ve experienced in planting camps range from fancy shower trailers to scary holes in the ground that are overflowing… but if you’re lucky there is a lake nearby.  My tent is one of my favourite places, so needless to say sleeping situation is 100.

How's the food?

The food I experienced also was a wide range, but usually on the amazing side of the scale. Massive portions, sweet treats to take to the block, and eggs to order… I usually left the season feeling full and satisfied.

What made you want to get into planting?

I actually had never heard of planting until a friends mom had mentioned that he should go. I did a little google, liked the sound of the challenge, and off I went! Making the decision to go planting was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Is it easy to make friends out there?

Definitely.  When you’re living and working with the same people, relationships develop pretty quickly. I feel really grateful that some of my best friends have come from rotten days spent in the swamp, and the best days in sandy fields.  

How long does it take to get good?

All depends on the person! Some people get the hang of it quickly, others take a full season to get in the swing of things.

What makes you a good planter?  

Good quality and speed. If you can plant a good tree quickly, you have the key to success. If you are fast but sloppy with your trees, expect to replant which means wasting time/losing money.

How do you stay comfy and warm in camp?

Layers! A toque and mitts are a must, and my all time fav fleece pants.

What do you do to deal with the bugs?

Cover your ears with a buff! If I can’t hear them/feel them crawling behind my ears, they don’t really bother me.

What's the best part of planting?

As cheesy as it sounds, the friendships. A lot of my best friends I made throughout my seasons of planting, and without that support system… what’s really the point? They keep you motivated, they take cache breaks with you, and most importantly tell you you can do it when you’ve told yourself otherwise.

5 Pieces of gear you can't live without at planting?

  • Diva cup!!! You don’t have to worry about your period all day, which means saving time aka money
  • A buff/some sort of head band
  • A good pair of wool socks
  • tights tights tights
  • Enough sunscreen to bathe in

Camille Cooper (5 Years Planting)

How's the food?

Great, we’ve had everything from pad thai to thanksgiving dinner, and a lot of delicious stuff in between. I have so much respect for our cooks. I would rather be stuck in a bad piece and covered in bugs than cooking for planters every day.

What made you want to get into planting?

I was tired of working serving jobs all summer just to pay rent. I wanted to get out of the city and enjoy my summers while making enough money to travel.

How do you get through tough days?

Laugh it off. You can’t make it stop raining or make the bugs go away, so you might as well have some fun.

How long does it take to get good?

Most of your first season.  It’s an investment. During my greener season I think I only planted 400 trees on the first day, but was able keep up with some of the vets on the last day of the season.

What makes you a good planter?  

I try not to get hung up on bad land. The faster you plant it, the faster it will be done. Taking the time to plant quality trees in my first season definitely helped me too.

How do you stay comfy and warm in camp?

Always bring a pair of ‘camp socks’ that you never wear to the block. I’m also guilty of buying a new blanket at the bargain shop every season to make my tent extra cozy.  

What do you do to deal with the bugs?

Cover yourself in Watkins and just keep planting. The bugs are the worst when you’re not moving, so I avoid cache breaks when they’re really bad. I also always carry bug spray in my back bag for when I bug out in the land.

What's the difference between a long shovel and a short shovel?

I cut my shovel in my first shift. I find that longer shovels pinch your shoulder when you pull the blade out of the ground.

What's the best part of planting?

Getting paid to hang out outside with your friends every day. The money doesn’t hurt either.

5 Pieces of gear you can't live without at planting?

A good tent, duct-tape, a waterproof backpack, a good camping mattress, and a party shirt

Do you plant with music? What kind?

Never! It slows me down because I start focusing on the songs.

Maggie Webster (4 Years Planting)

What made you want to get into planting? What's the best part of planting?

I wanted a university summer job where I could make a lot of money, be outside, and have fun. This job provided all of that and much more. I also developed resilience, learned new skills, and took on several new responsibilities. Above all that, though, I built lifelong friendships.

Is it easy to make friends out there?

Yes! You’re stuck with people in a bush camp for a few months! You’ll not only make friends, but best friends.  

How do you stack up against the other planters? How long does it take to get good?

At first I wasn’t great. It took me a full season to get good. It takes some people less, but in general it takes people a season to become comfortable managing the land and planting efficiently. Planting isn’t only about being fast. You need to be fast to make money, but you also need to plant good quality trees or else you’ll spend your entire season replanting and not making money.

How do you stay comfy and warm in camp?

Wool socks, fleece, and a dry tent (make sure you have a good quality tent and that you don’t set it up at the bottom of a hill). I also put the clothes that I plan to wear the next day at the bottom of my sleeping bag to stay warm so that putting them on in the morning isn’t as awful.

5 Pieces of gear you can't live without at planting?

In my opinion the most important things you need are:

  • A good quality tent
  • A buff
  • A few pairs of wool socks
  • A few pairs of good quality planting gloves
  • A dry bag (to keep your snacks and sweater dry)

Shayna Briard (5 Years Planting)

What's the bathroom / sleeping / shower situation like?

You sleep in tents and must bring all the gear yourself.  The one thing that a planter should no cheap out on is the sleeping bag.  Being warm after a rain day... or 5, is so key to mentally prepare for the next day.  I learned my lesson in my first season. The bathrooms are little ‘shitters’ or dug pits and tents, and the shower is a hose from a nearby lake or stream in a ‘shower tent.’  

How's the food?

Abundant and normally amazing. The cooks are very impressive cooking for the camp in a revamped school bus, in the remote wilderness where they need to make do with what they have and work through any mishaps.  The best part of the day is coming home to soup and bread.

Is it easy to make friends out there?

Yes, absolutely. Some of my closest friends are people that I met planting, you just connect on a deeper level, experiencing some of the worst days of your life together, and the people that stick it out are all very like-minded.

How do you get through tough days?

Fresh socks, warm food, some tears, and just accepting that the job can suck but everyday is a new day and every tree in the ground is more money in your pocket.

What makes you a good planter?

Short cache breaks, consistent movement and determination to reach your goals everyday.   

What's the best part of planting?

The self motivation and the self accomplishment you feel when you finish a piece of land or a contract.  Spending your summers in the wilderness. And the friendships you form.

5 Pieces of gear you can't live without at planting?

  • Good work boots.
  • Extra gloves always. Can never have too many. And socks.
  • A buff.
  • The best raincoat you can get.
  • A water dromedary.  So much better than a plastic jug.

Maddy Peters (3 Years Planting)

What's the bathroom / sleeping / shower situation like?

As long as you’re comfortable being a little sticky and smelly the bathroom situation is fine. Showers are few and far between, depending on your camp, but you can usually take one once a shift (every 3-4 days). As long as you have some baby wipes as back up.

What made you want to get into planting?

Both of my older brothers planted trees and got me into it. Having friends or family that have planted definitely gives you an advantage because they can mentally prepare you for how hard it will be, can give you old gear, and can even help you train before your first season.

Is it easy to make friends out there?

Yes! Even for people who might be a bit more reserved and shy, you will still make friends quickly. It is almost like summer camp in the way that your crew is like your cabin and you end up spending so much time with them and get comfortable very quickly. The shitty situations that you are put in with your crew helps you bond pretty quickly. You may also be paired with a planting partner who, if you’re lucky, could become one of your closest friends.

How do you get through tough days?

It can be really difficult to stay motivated when you’re stuck in bad land or have bad weather. I think as long as you keep in mind why you are there it helps you to get through the tough days. I typically had a money goal for each day/shift and as long as I reached that goal I was able to stay positive. Although, some days are just a write off.

How do you stack up against the other planters?

In my last season I would say I “stacked up” on the mid to higher side compared with my camp. As a female planter it’s really satisfying to be able to hold your own with the male planters and that was one of my goals in my final season.

How long does it take to get good?

I think it takes about 3 shifts, or 12 planting days, to actually know what you’re doing. Once you have the technique down you then need to work on becoming more efficient and developing a strategy for how you plant. Most camps will give new planters a goal to reach for each shift so that you will know how you compare to the rest of the group.

What makes you a good planter?  

A good planter, in my opinion, is someone who is adaptable and hard working. You need to be able to adapt to your environment, whether that is the piece you are planting in or the weather each day. If you are in great land but there are tons of bugs or it’s raining you can’t let those factors slow you down.

What's the best part of planting?

Definitely the people. Especially in Ontario, most people are there to have fun and make money and don’t take themselves too seriously. The money is definitely a plus as well.

5 Pieces of gear you can't live without at planting?

  • Air mattress 
  • A buff,
  • Duct tape,
  • A disposable camera
  • A rain jacket
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