Robert and Marlene started working with community development in Mongolia in 2002.  They started working in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia with Alpha Communities.

Over the years they began to feel a pull towards the grassy plains of Northern Mongolia. Robert’s background in agriculture, from his home in Manitoba, began to draw him toward the open spaces and the agricultural development needs of rural communities.

As a child Robert loved the outdoors and planting trees. His love for the outdoors became a career as a geologist working with mineral exploration and natural resource management.

Travel to the rural areas of Mongolia gave birth to a vision for using trees and agriculture to help develop rural communities.

Sunset over a ger in Sukbaatar, Mongolia
Nomads herd wild horses in Sukbaatar, Mongolia
Sunset on the plains near Sukbaatar, Mongolia
Blue hour on the plains near Sukbaatar, Mongolia
Goats grazing on the plains near Sukbaatar, Mongolia

In May of 2014, Robert and his wife Marlene moved from Ulaanbaatar to to Sukhbaatar, in Northern Mongolia near the Russian border. They purchased a 10 hectare section of land, and a house in the ger district of Sukhbaatar, and set out to make the dream of Trees of Life Mongolia a reality.


Trees of Life is actively building and investing in the people of the Sukhbaatar, Selenge community through the use of sustainable horticulture (permaculture), teaching and relationship building.

Their house in ger district is home to their green house and garden that serves a model and base to teach sustainable horticulture and permaculture techniques to local people interested in improving their gardens and crops.


Dog sleeping in a green house near Sukbaatar, Mongolia
Picking Jalapeno peppers near Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Picking carrots in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Rob and Marlene gardening in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
jalapeno pepper in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia

Marlene manages the organic garden and works all summer to preserve the vegetables and make the most of what the garden produces. Pickles, salsa, canned jalapenos, frozen pumpkin and squash and more are preserved to be used over the long, cold winter.


Picking carrots in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Red Raspberry in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Honey bee on a sunflower in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Sunflower in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Sunrays shine over sunflower in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Digging carrots in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Lettuce leaves in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia

After purchasing their land outside of town, they built a fence around the property and began planting trees for a windbreak. Inside the wind break they plan on growing fruit trees. They are testing different varieties of trees to see how they handle the harsh climate.

Robert is grafting varieties of apples from their home in British Colombia, Canada onto existing Mongolian Crab Apple tree in hopes of creating a hybrid that can produce good fruit and survive the harsh winters of Northern Mongolia.

watering fruit trees on the mongolian border
Watering trees - Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Watering trees - Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Grafting trees Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Grafting trees - Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Grafting trees in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia

Through Trees of Life, Robert and Marlene are working to bring sustainable agriculture, training in horticulture and permaculture to this rural area of Mongolia.

They are building a community of people like themselves that share a love for gardening, agriculture and improving the land and environment where they live.

Photographing sunset Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Horse at sunset Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Man bicycling past cows on a road in Sukhbaatar, Mongolia
Fence in the ger district - Sukhbaatar, Mongolia


Project Goal: The goal of this project was to create a brand that clearly communicates who Trees of Life Mongolia is, what they do, and why they do it.

Project Scope: Our work for Trees of Life centered around creating an online brand and web presence that would be easy to maintain going forward.

The full project included:

  • Message Branding
  • Web Design and training
  • Photography
  • Video

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