K. Sarumathi & VIPASHA SINHA

Hailing from a family of environmentalists and farmers, it was only natural for G. Mullaivanam to be drawn to trees. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, he began to collect and give away saplings when he was just 13. After doing this for years, he decided to take the initiative a step further and started ‘Tree Bank’’ in 2008, which equips and encourages people to plant trees.

“We started by planting saplings at libraries. Slowly, others started approaching us. Till now, we have planted 68 lakh trees across India.”

Tree Bank’s latest project is Nalla Kai, in which school and college students are trained in kitchen gardening. Children are encouraged to collect seeds from fruits and drop it in a seed bin kept at the school. The seeds are then cleaned and dried and sowed by the students under the guidance of Tree Bank volunteers. “To create a kitchen garden, a space of at least 600 sq feet is needed. Under the project, we have covered 17 private and government schools. We want students to learn about the importance of planting trees.” To usher in the New Year, Tree Bank plans to plant Apple and Rudraksha trees in 214 places.