This paper reports on the unusual case of the Wemale people of Indonesia, who changed from shifting cultivators to tree farmers very abruptly. Returning to their land after a forced absence they began to focus their efforts on their private tree gardens, the management, tenure and benefits of which are described by the author for two villages. At the lower village, farmers realised ever larger profits from their tree gardens, which were planted with mixtures of three cash crop tree species - sago, coconuts and cloves - sometimes interspersed with other trees. The increasing value of the gardens meant that inheritance rules were now under debate. At the higher village where only cloves could be grown, farmers were forced to supplement their incomes through migrant labour.