The Summer of Gold

Cortez Tree

Not unlike the Cherry Blossom trees that bloom every April/May in Washington DC, Belizean Richard Harrison is hoping that the Yellow Cortez tree will draw tourists to Central America.

The Yellow Cortez tree is native to the dry forests native to Central America, and Belize. Like the Cherry blossoms they bloom with the rainy season between Mid April and Mid May.

Harrison is behind the Summer of Gold or Verano de Oro project whose goal is to plant 100,000 Yellow Cortez trees throughout Belize, particularly along highways.

Mr. Harrison believes that this will create a spectacularly unique man-made wonder of very high value to Belize utilizing a natural forest species. In addition to adding a beautiful tourism draw, Harrison feels the project can foster participation by Belizeans, which may improve quality of life and contribute to the wealth of the area. Belize’s large tracts of protected forest areas, rich with a wide variety of flowering forest trees, is conducive to honey production, with the sub-tropical climate permitting two flowering seasons in a normal year one at the peak of the dry months April-May and another at the peak of the cold months November-December.

Propagating natural flowering forest species will only enhance Belize’s natural advantages for production of high-end honeybee products.

Five hundred seedlings have been planted this year alone, the first steps to turn this idea into reality. As the trees grow, the hope is the project will foster additional participation and ideas.

For the Verano de Oro project to work will require many people, for time to invest in the seedlings, allocate the land for planting, and care of the young trees, so that they grow up to flowering age.

This requires using a little fertilizer (could be natural horse or chicken manure) and watering during the dry season in the early years of the life of the trees. It is a good thing for parents to do with their children, so that children see the tree transform from seedling to towering tree.

It is also time to share the lesson that to think big…. start small!

By Larry Waight