Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brush With Immortality

Yesterday I saw and touched a tree grown from a seed taken (in the sense of "gathered," not in the sense of "stolen") from a tree planted by J. Russell Smith, auther of the landmark book/Bible of this site Tree Crop: A Permanent Agriculture.

Apparently Smith stipulated in his will that he wanted his family farm in Virginia to be held in trust and used as a research center after his death. So of course the board of directors almost immediately sold the property for subdevelopment. (If any readers can fill in more details of this story I'd love your help.) Smith's daughter Lela heroically worked to buy back a small portion of the land, and also befriended many of the new property owners, explaining to them the historic and ecological value of what they now owned, so that many of the trees Smith planted - and in many cases grafted and top worked - are still standing

Ironically, the tree I saw yesterday has been a very poor producer of nuts for my friend, and if it was any other tree he would have culled it from his orchard a long time ago. But there's no way he's ever going to cut down a tree that has sprung - both genetically and spiritually - from one of the great geniuses and heroes in American history... and I'm not going to wash the hand that touched it!

I just realized that Smith died in the year I was born. Guess that means I need to be at least a small piece in making his vision come true.

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