Over the years, we have overseen the evolution of the Cocoon as it became the product we proudly brought to market and continue to sell. Today, we continue to refine our seedling nursery, demonstrating a commitment to technological innovation. While we do so much more than the Cocoon, its story reflects our core DNA. The Cocoon embodies our commitment to the values of continuous, science-based R&D , and our efforts to improve the scale, efficiency and transparency of reforestation efforts with inventive technology, design and data.
The first iteration of the Cocoon looked nothing like its current doughnut shape. Instead, it was modelled on the clay pots used in ancient Mesopotamia. Back then, they used to surround a tree or seedling with three clay pots, filling them with water that could last days or even weeks. This ingenious design proved to be the first man-made drip irrigation system for trees and crops. However, it was not ideal insofar as the material was very heavy and prone to breakage.
Inspired by the past, in 2013, Land Life Company began prototyping. We used three, lightweight paper pulp-based buckets that encircled a seedling to supply it water. Although influenced by ancient methods, the agroforestry scientists and engineers at Land Life Company quickly worked to improve this early design. In 2014, the Cocoon evolved to take on the recognizable 3D shape it has today – ‘the doughnut’.
The Cocoon is a circle made from recycled cartons with a hole in its center for a seedling. In 2014, we developed a simple lid to reduce water evaporation. Changes to the design were not limited to its shape. Much attention was paid to the materials, both then and now. At this time, we introduced hot-pressing to create a smoother pulp fiber product, ensuring improved water retention, lid fit and stackability for transport. From here, the story becomes one of finetuning – based on field findings from current plantings – to make our nursery as effective as possible.
Over the years, we’ve encountered many R&D challenges we sought to overcome such as biodegradability, coatings and controlled seepage. While we continued to refine the product design, our operations team stepped in, informing our engineers of issues arising from practical implementation at the planting sites. We have planted with the Cocoon in more than 25 countries and what we learn from the field is crucial for our sustained product development.
It was not until around 2020 that new breakthroughs in manufacturing and related technologies enabled us to roll out our latest version. Gone is the wick. And we are moving away from wax towards a water reservoir.
Nowadays, after 6-7 iterations, we also have improved what we call the ‘shelter’. In 2014, we used sticks to keep the seeding in place. After considerable deliberation and field testing – experimenting with height, shape, color and material through the years – we now use a one-piece foldable insert to protect seedlings from high irradiation, winds, rodents, and desiccation. Today’s Cocoon and shelter are both sturdy and biodegradable.
We are beyond proud of our initial prototype and early rollout, that we continue to refine and sell it today. But we have also grown to become so much more. Remember, the Cocoon is not the ultimate panacea for planting trees at scale. At least not alone. You see, it is strategic to plant before a rainy season because trees need more water than the Cocoon can provide (i.e., 7 gallons or 25 liters). Therefore, it may not perform optimally in all climates.
Our years of experience of growing trees and transforming landscapes have demonstrated that the best results occur when you use the Cocoon as one step in a wider reforestation program. When undertaking sustainable reforestation, the Cocoon works best accompanied by our full-service: tree planting and tech-guided monitoring.