ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Real Life Versus Digi Life

In the digital realm, I have been pulling back. The many hundreds of people that I have guided through the twists and turns of recycling, plastics manufacture, how to live better on less, the corporate welfare subsidies and the inner workings of our not-for-profit organization have had to take a back seat to real life events, pressing needs and the planting of another season of trees. Since July first, our tree planting has been shut down because of the "normally" hot dry weather that is typical for our part of the world. In our first few years, when we were still learning the basics and had stronger backs, we would hand carry thousands of gallons of water up hill, along trails and into the woods to water young seedlings. Now, we rest during the hottest, driest part of the year and focus more on spring and fall planting. We do carry an occasional drink to newer seedlings, but not nearly as much as we did in the old days. One of the things I like best about living in ways that honor and respect the cycles of the seasons is that when it is time to work hard at specific tasks, not only are conditions "right" for human comfort but the results of our activities seem to be more efficient.

This year, we changed our focus from outside the fence to inside the fence around the first of July. Our gardens have never looked better and the trees we planted in spring seem to be happy and adjusting well to their new homes. This year on our tiny 20X50 foot (6X15.25 meter) garden, we will be harvesting hundreds of dollars worth of produce. As usual, we are experimenting with several new techniques and trying a few new plants, but the vast majority of what we are growing has become vital to our diet and as familiar as the smell of rich life-giving humus. The past month has allowed us to get things recycled, thrown out, burned or put away, the garage has never been as organized as it is right now and we have three compost bins, one for vegetables and two for trees.

Seed harvest time is nearly upon us and we watch expectantly as the black walnuts, acorns and other nuts ripen in the sun. This year we are asking our supporters to donate what they can so that we can purchase a few nut collectors.We rarely purchase equipment, but when we do, it is used to maximize our effectiveness and this is a huge time saver. Earlier this spring, we requested donations for a broadfork or two and because they are so important to rehabilitation of compacted and lifeless soils, we are still asking for help with their purchase. I have seen compacted, lifeless, hard clay turned to friable, rich living soil by just one pass with the broadfork and a liberal application of compost. It may have taken a few years to build up the ground again, but the primary mover in the process is the air and moisture that is allowed into the soil that makes life possible. Last season, we collected and distributed nearly a million seeds form just one species and this year we hope to do it again in far less time. Getting those tree seeds into the right places is the hardest part of our work and without the long handled dibbers that we use to plant them, our task would be virtually impossible. Unlike the squirrels, we are far too tall to effectively plant seeds without a tool.

I trust that our readers will accommodate our schedule as it is determined by the weather, the seasons and doing the right things at the right times. a favorite saying of mine is from the realm of sailing but it applies to ECO-Tours as well. Fair weather sailors miss 90% of the fun. similarly, if we wait for comfortably cool and beautifully sunny days, we would only get a few hundred trees planted at best, maybe only a few dozen if we wanted to buy and plant big trees. Our focus on building soil, growing seedlings in the best possible habitat and caring for them once they have been put in has allowed us to increase our effectiveness exponentially.

What we are working toward now is growing our digital effectiveness as well. Over twenty years of tree planting we have learned a great deal about the who what where and when regarding the process of growing forests. The hundreds of acres that have been transformed through our ECO-Tours are well on the way to what foresters recognize as mature woods. In our area, it can take hundreds of years from empty field to full forest, but our techniques can accelerate this process greatly. One measure of mature forests in our geographic location is that they are home to about 300 trees per acre (.4 hectare) Our tours frequently plant this many trees in a single day, but we usually spread them out over a much larger area, planting a large number of small clusters of trees, rather than long rows of one or two species. Getting specific plants in areas that have the best chance of success requires a nearly microscopic view of huge areas and in some ways this process is mimicked by the digi-realm. We want to develop the best ECO-Tour for each of our readers, each of our guests and ones that have the best chance of bearing fruit over the long haul.

If you have ideas about growing our effectiveness in this realm, or if you have money to donate to our reforestation, get in touch with us here or by e-mail at: Donate through Paypal by using our e-mail address as the account number. If you are coming to the Western Lake Michigan Watershed, or the Southern Lake Superior Watershed, let us know your itinerary and we will design an ECO-Tour specifically for you! There are forces at work that want to continue altering the landscape in terrible ways, making places that look like the top image look like the bottom image.

ECO-Tours of Wisconsin inc. is dedicated to finding landscapes that look like the bottom image and turning them back into something more akin to the top image. With a little help from a lot of people, we have been able to transform hundreds of acres, now we want to increase our reach and effectiveness further. please do what you can to help.

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