Along the shoreline of my family’s farm pond grew an apple tree. Sticking straight out of the water, it’s a kind of biological integration you do not normally see. Being an apple tree while submerged in water year-round makes this an improbable event. This seedling tree retains its health and vigor while producing wonderful flowers and fruits. To me it is a miracle of sorts. Imagine if you tried to recreate this yourself. People would think you lost it. Yet here is this lone tree defying the laws of horticulture as we know it. When the ponds were created, a beach existed which would come and go depending on the rainfall and the levels of the water in the surrounding wetlands. On the beaches certain plants like the crabapples were seeded from birds which likely came from a nearby neighborhood. Many of them were destroyed by hungry deer. This particular tree was surrounded by willows and thick sedges which gave it some protection. The water level fluctuates from six inches to one foot deep around the tree. I never noticed the tree too much until I was close to selling the farm. I was rarely there in the spring because I was busy with my nursery. As time went on, I thought for sure the tree would perish. It did not. It grew even more. You could say this apple tree was lucky. But then what does luck have to do with it? It did win the lottery in terms of physiological and ecological adaptability. But these characteristics were residing within it and never left over the course of millions of years of evolution. That is the miracle.
Nature is filled with such ‘moon shot’ events. Often our eyes just do not see them. Our ears do not hear them. Our mouth does not taste it. And sometimes much like other human emotions, we just do not feel it. For that reason, we may say it doesn’t exist. To say we need to breed plants is like saying, “well I guess it is not there, I have to create it.” To some degree, it is an act of desperation really. GMO crops are the ultimate level of this desperation. Nature is broken and I must fix it is GMO. It all starts in the mind of the scientist.
I remember reading about a legendary plum planting done by the USDA many years ago only to find out it was removed, and its germplasm was lost. I remember having the thought maybe I could create something like this. Starting with many species, I found populations with immense diversity and resilience far greater than the sum of their parts. It was a miracle to me. The results far exceeded what I was originally looking for both individually and collectively. It answered all of the questions about their populations. This expression of nature became the ultimate level of integration between individual plants and species blending and separating over time. All I did was bring them together and wait for an outcome. My expectations were small but hopeful. I experienced a little peace and comfort knowing that the seeds could be carried on as is into further generations which in turn would help others do the same as I did in a fraction of the time. The results would be compounded in future generations creating even further resources beyond those first few generations all the while adapting to the changing world and climate. In many ways, I did nothing. The plants do all the heavy lifting. In agriculture, the power to create becomes the power to heal the land and the humans on the land. And our power to heal is our means to salvation. By connecting directly to the sources of these plants not removed from their wild counterparts, we can fulfill this giant gap between cultivar and seedling while finding the nutrition that is missing in modern day fruit cultivation. Oh yeah…. I’m not messin’ around. And neither is nature. That was my teacher.
Join me at the source.