Retirement isn’t in the vocabulary of Victoria speech language pathologist Marlene Lewis.

By day, this vivacious Victoria-based, 65-year-old mother is on a mission to end-dyslexia and by night, she volunteers with Landmark Education Worldwide as a facilitator/moderator helping others reach personal milestones and breakthroughs.

And, if that wasn’t already enough, Marlene and her husband, Peter, recently became the owners of a 69-acre farm in Nanaimo where they are combatting climate change through forestry!

“I could retire tomorrow if that’s what mattered most to me, but I’m on a mission to share the knowledge I’ve acquired,” says Marlene with a laugh, adding “I’ve put it all on the line to make a difference using all aspects of my life and career.”

More than 60 volunteers recently helped Marlene and Peter plant more than 15 acres of trees to tackle climate change at their newly acquired Empress Acres farm in Nanaimo.

The specially selected Empress Splendor trees, were provided by World Tree, a Victoria company, as part of their Carbon Offset Program.

The Empress Splendor is the fastest growing tree in the world (source: the Guinness Book of World Records). Within just 6 months, the trees can grow over 10 feet tall and they reach maturity in just 10 years. This record-breaking tree is non-invasive, not-genetically modified and is a source of strong, lightweight lumber.

Marlene with empress tree saplings.

“Most people have never heard of the Empress Tree, even though there is a mature tree on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria,” says Wendy Burton, CEO of World Tree. “This will be the first large-scale planting of these trees on Vancouver Island and we hope that it will attract more local farmers to the program.”

The project is backed by international investors who want to offset their carbon footprint. The exceptional growth rate and large leaves of the trees makes them carbon sponges, absorbing 11 times more carbon than any other tree.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the trees will provide an important revenue stream to the farm. The trees will be harvested at maturity and the income will be shared with all the stakeholders: the farmers, the investors and World Tree.

“The Empress Splendor has many benefits for the environment and for us as farmers,” says Angela Nauta, one of the co-owners of Empress Acres. “The carbon capture is important for our sustainability, and we are also very happy to get the benefit of extra income in 10 years.”

Once they are harvested, the trees will re-grow from the stump providing ongoing benefits to the environment and the growers for many decades to come.

Empress Acres team planting saplings

Empress Acre’s Team

About World Tree

World Tree has been promoting the properties of the Empress Tree since 2002 and launched their Carbon Offset Program in 2015. This year they have planted over 100,000 trees with farmers in Canada, United States and Costa Rica which will offset over 5 million tons of carbon over the next 50 years. They are expanding their program and are actively seeking farmers.

For more information, please contact:
Marlene & Peter Lewis (Farm Owners)
marlene [at] –  250-474-6368

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