Root to Fruit found its beginnings on the shores of Lake Malawi, as a small-scale tree planting project run by Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS), with a goal of 10,000 seedlings grown on the property of Chintheche Inn, to be distributed to the surrounding community. Over the years, the project grew in number of seedlings and number of staff, under the watchful eye of Chintheche Inn Management and Master Banda, a retired Forest Guard and resident expert. The project attracted the interest of many parties, not the least of which was another environmentally-minded tour operator: Ralf Holmstrom of Southbound Travel. Mr. Holmstrom approached Chris Badger (CAWS Managing Director) to begin a partnership that would take the project to a whole new level; thus, Root to Fruit Ltd. was born.
The partnership between Southbound Travel and Central African Wilderness Safaris not only allowed Root to Fruit to provide local and international clients the opportunity to offset the emissions from their travel adventures, business ventures, and daily life the purchase and planting of trees in Malawi, but entrance into the voluntary carbon market also allows Root to Fruit to operate as a sustainable, non-profit business that reacts to the global effects of climate change and uplifts the local communities of Northern Malawi.
In 2013, Root to Fruit expanded the original one-nursery approach and setup four nurseries which now employ 15 full-time and 6 part-time staff. Shifting from a charitable framework to a non-profit business model (social enterprise) has increased the project’s longevity potential, as we are no longer dependent upon donations, but able to function because of the carbon offset purchases, which also allow us to distribute seedlings into the community free-of-charge. Everyone wins: our clients can be proud of the fact that a portion of their lifestyle is carbon neutral, and the local community is provided with trees that will improve the air, rain cycle, and soil around their homes, while creating income-generating activities through the sale of their harvested fruits and making medicinal remedies produced from our trees abundant.