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April Showers bring May Flowers…


Written by Plant With Purpose on October 19, 2010 in General

by Corbyn

Nope. It’s not April. It’s the middle of October, and I haven’t seen anything that resembled a summer in San Diego yet. It still feels like April. So with that I am going to  celebrate Arbor Day’s half birthday (usually celebrated in April) with a look at some US History as it pertains to Plant With Purpose’s work.

I mentioned in my last post just how much I have learned over the last two years about sustainable agriculture and community development related to Plant With Purpose’s international programs. Recently, I also read the Pulitzer Prize winning Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and learned just how much of my new knowledge overlapped with that of our very own US History. All of a sudden, while reading an American classic I saw words like unsustainable-agriculture, rural migration, food scarcity, slums, and economic depravity. These are words that we use daily to describe the cycles that Plant With Purpose is working against in places from Oaxaca to Thailand. In the 1930’s, our own nation faced a crisis of epic proportions. The Midwest Dust Bowls. The Dirty Thirties. Environmental degradation on a massive scale. Hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling to survive on the land they owned. Subsistence level farmers.

It is interesting to look back and see what kind of interventions were put into place when our own country faced drought, bad soils, and lack of economic opportunity for our own farmers. Here’s one tidbit for today’s post. “President Roosevelt ordered that the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) plant a huge belt of more than 200 million trees from Canada to Abilene, Texas, to break the wind, hold water in the soil, and hold the soil itself in place. The administration also began to educate farmers on soil conservation and anti-erosion techniques, including crop rotation, strip farming, contour plowing, terracing and other beneficial farming practices. In 1937, the federal government began an aggressive campaign to encourage Dust Bowlers to adopt planting and plowing methods that conserve the soil. The government paid the reluctant farmers a dollar an acre to practice one of the new methods.” *1 Over the nine years the CCC existed, as many as 3 billion trees were planted across the United States. *2

While I realize it can be overly simplistic to say that planting trees fights poverty. The truth of it is, it does. And we have seen it in our very own country. “Did you catch that line about, “aggressive campaign to encourage Dust Bowlers to adopt planting and plowing methods that conserve soil?” If you’ve followed our blog, does this sound familiar? Remember us reporting that we’ve employed over 6,200 Haitians and built over 350 miles of soil conservation barriers in the last 10 months just in Haiti?

Theodore Roosevelt once made a proclamation to the children of the United States regarding the importance of trees to our Nation, “…A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless; forests which are so used that they can not renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood, and at the same time a reservoir of water. When you help to preserve our forests or, to plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens.” *3 

So happy Arbor Day in the middle of October! Plant With Purpose is celebrating its 5.5 millionth tree planted, and we are proud to say that we are doing this with and for our global neighbors by creating stewards of God’s great earth. Won’t you join us as we plant over 1 million trees this year alone? For $10 you can replant a hillside or for $50 you can plant a whole grove of trees. Thanks for being a part of Plant With Purpose’s long term commitment to helping others to help themselves, rain or shine.

*1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

*2 http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1583.html

*3 http://www.idahoforests.org/arborday.htm


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