THE NON-PROFIT THAT TURNS ‘MINES TO VINES’ IN FORMER WAR-TORN LANDS WORLDWIDE CELEBRATES ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Roots of Peace has removed over 100,000 landmines over the past quarter of a century. Planting over six (6) million fruit trees while providing food security and jobs, the organization has benefited millions of farmers and families in war-torn lands like Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Guatemala, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and Vietnam.
One year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Roots of Peace succeeded in planting 1.1 million fruit trees in 2022 for food security amidst dire challenges. Despite the chaos, the organization rallied after a two-week pause to ensure that its employees could continue to oversee and support the harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables in a country that is 80% dependent upon agriculture for jobs. This step was a defining moment for Roots of Peace, as hundreds of organizations fled Afghanistan. Yet, Heidi Kuhn, Root of Peace Founder and CEO, took bold steps to remain in the country and continue operations.
“Nature does not wait for peace treaties to be signed, and our responsibility was to the Afghan families who trusted in our sacred promise to deliver a bountiful harvest—rather than allowing the fruits to rot in the fields,” stated Kuhn. “Parents are forced to make stark decisions about which children to feed amid massive starvation.”
Roots of Peace has worked in Afghanistan for over two decades and planted over 6 million fruit trees in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Today, this American NGO employs over 400 Afghans and manages a total of $85 million U.S. dollars–$30 million from USAID and $55 million from the U.S. Department of State INL and UNDP. This U.S./Afghan team is on target to provide food security and jobs in a country with rampant unemployment and cultivate a ‘Harvest of Hope’ for Afghan farmers and families.
This September 8th, Roots of Peace reaches its 25th anniversary turning ‘Mines to Vines,’ replacing landmines with vineyards and orchards. Heidi Kuhn, Founder, and CEO were deeply inspired by the work of the late Princess Diana who raised global landmine awareness prior to her tragic death and set forth on a quest to eradicate an estimated 60 million landmines in 60 countries.
“The earth finds itself on fire right now, as we experience record-high temperatures across the West Coast and rampant wildfires in every corner of the American West,” stated Kuhn. “We must listen to the earth and work to heal the wounds we inflict upon it. Landmines pierce mother nature’s skin, and it is in our power to heal these wounds. To bring healing to our planet as the earth continues to scream out in agony around us. We have it within our power to eradicate landmines from the face of the earth. Let it begin now.”
Today leaders of the California wine industry and diplomats will gather in the Napa Valley with a message to bring forth peace through agriculture worldwide. Mayor John Dunbar of Yountville has proclaimed Roots of Peace Day in tribute to farmers in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and worldwide who suffer the perils of landmines during this harvest season.
“As Mayor, it’s my pleasure to declare September 8, 2022, “Roots of Peace Day” in the Town of Yountville,” Said Yountville Mayor John Dunbar. “We celebrate the 25 years founder and CEO Heidi Kuhn and the organization have dedicated to replacing landmines for grapevines and other crops to support peace and prosperity worldwide. We also honor the role many Napa Valley wine country icons have played in advancing this humanitarian mission.”
As part of the anniversary, the Culinary Institute of America at COPIA will be planting an ‘olive tree’ of peace on the soils of Napa Valley. At the same time, Executive Chef Dominic Orsini will debut by creating a ‘Taste of Peace’ luncheon featuring spices cultivated from former war-torn lands. This will include Black pepper from the former battlefields of the Vietnam War, saffron from Herat, Afghanistan, and other delicacies which grow when the earth is nurtured and cultivated.
“We are proud to join with Roots of Peace to celebrate their 25 years of actively saving lives and promoting agriculture and sustainability in the world through their actions,” said Thomas Bensel, Managing Director of Culinary Institute of America at COPIA.
A Roots of Peace MINES TO VINES forum will begin at 11:00 am PT with a dialogue featuring the Consul(s) General of Ukraine, Croatia, and Vietnam. Prominent women vintners Violet Grgich and Maria Castellucci will join Heidi Kuhn as Moderator to discuss the impact of landmines on farmland and the importance of cultivating peace through agriculture.
In January 2000, Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgich joined Heidi Kuhn to walk the minefields of his beloved homeland of Croatia. At age 99, he continues his work for peace alongside his daughter, Violet.
“We continue to support Roots of Peace’s transformative work of cultivating peace through agriculture throughout the world, and we invite you to join us in celebrating this inspiring milestone as we approach the next 25 years.”