Ah Trees. Such glorious giants in our landscape.
Their arching branches, their susurrating, whispering leaves, their hopeful longevity, their annually recurring abundance, their delving, investigative roots, their sheer size and shadow.
Their magnificence alone is enough to want to start a tree nursery and take part in their propagation. That, I suppose, is one reason we’re doing just that.
But the climate is changing. Winters here are warmer and wetter. Summers here are drier and hotter. Winds are getting stronger. Floods are getting heavier. These are not things that our magnificent trees are adapted to. Nor our productive farms, our orchards, our market gardens.
And our soil is changing. The soil on which trees are totally dependent. Microscopic gems of plastic are appearing alongside microscopic gems of mineral. Minerals valuable to plants are themselves disappearing when they were once abundant, washed away by agriculture.
And alongside it all, microscopic life is threatened down there too, destroyed by digging and drowned by synthetic chemicals.
Like it nor not, the future for our trees is tough.
These too are the reasons for us starting a tree nursery. A tree nursery called “Trees for Resilience”.
The plan is to grow and sell trees for productive systems – agroforestry systems, gardens, smallholdings, farms - that will help people to build resilience into the soil and treescape they steward. We’ll be focusing on two types of trees.
First up, trees and shrubs that naturally fix nitrogen into the soil.
So many of the plants we grow for food, and beauty demand nitrogen, and yet most of them can’t access it directly. It needs to be drawn from the air by microbes, which interact with a few types of plants that can build relationships with those microbes.
Together they fix that nitrogen in the soil and so it becomes available to other plants. It’s a powerful and natural way to help build fertility into the soil without resorting to synthetic nitrogen fertilisers or even organic shop-bought products.
Nitrogen-fixing trees are a key part of a resilient and regenerative future, be it in farms, agroforestry, orchards, market gardens, home gardens, parks of elsewhere. We want to see more of them out there.
So we’ll be growing them for sale right here. Think Alders, Elaeagnus, Sea Buckthorns, Siberian Peas, Myrtles and many more.
Second up, we’ll provide trees that suggest they’re well adapted for the changing climate. At the moment, most of us still plant trees in an area based on what thrived over the last century. Yet in most cases the trees we plant now will last a hundred years or more, and the climate they grow and live in will be very different in the coming century to the one gone.
We need to start to plant trees for the future, so they can thrive and live the long lives we want them to when we put them in the ground. Trees for the next century, not the last.
So we’ll be carefully selecting fruit, nut and other trees that will certainly grow and thrive now, but that seem well-adapted to thrive in the changing future too.
Species, and varieties, of trees that are drought tolerant, don’t require cold winters to produce fruit, can take a bit of wind, and so on.
All in all, our tree nursery will serve to rebuild and support resilient soils. And provide trees for productive systems that themselves are resilient in the face of the changes that are on the way.
Trees for Resilience.
We start this winter, planting our mother trees and planting the seeds of trees-to-be. We’ll keep you posted as the enterprise develops and then, soon enough, when the trees become available. More soon...