Visit the homepage for the Arbor Day Foundation and the first thing that will pop out from the page is the above quote. The Iowa Learning Farms Team agrees: Trees ARE Simply Amazing.
The Spanish village of Mondoñedo holds the honor of being the first documented community in the world to celebrate an arbor plantation festival in 1594. Fast forward to April 10, 1872, when the state of Nebraska celebrated the very first Arbor Day held in the United States with the planting of one million trees. During the decades that followed, more states passed legislation that allowed for the annual observation of Arbor Day. Iowa enacted its own legislation in support of observing National Arbor Day in 1887. Now, all fifty states celebrate National Arbor Day on the last Friday of April, joining more than 40 countries across the globe that celebrate their own national arbor days and annual tree-planting celebrations.
History reveals that people across the globe have recognized the beauty and value of trees in their communities and environments for centuries. This year in the United States National Arbor Day falls on Friday, April 27, 2018. In honor of the 146th anniversary of National Arbor Day—and the 131st anniversary of Iowa’s observation of Arbor Day—several Iowa Learning Farms staff members would like to share a few personal stories with you about how trees have a special place in their own lives.
One of my favorite stories is the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Published as a children’s book, the poem also holds a valuable lesson about how
we view natural resources for all ages. In the beginning the boy enjoys the renewable gifts
of leaves, apples and shade in the
company of the tree. As time passes, the boy asks to take more from the tree and it freely provides. However, the boy is not truly happy and neither was the tree. It isn’t until we slow down and truly appreciate the natural resources around us – soil, water, trees, and other humans – that can we hope to be happy.
Twenty-eight years ago I was gifted an evergreen tree. When my family built our house in 1997, the tree needed to move to make room for the driveway. We were worried it wouldn’t survive the move, but the tree is thriving on my parent’s farm – and may even have some lights from holiday’s past. The book, and my tree, remind me to take time to enjoy nature and the gifts it provides. I hope you take time to read the book and enjoy nature for yourself!
My mom is into trees. Like really into trees.* When I was in elementary school, she planted a big long row of arborvitaes along the north side of our farmstead. My sister and I were assigned the summer task of standing out there with a hose and watering the trees – ten minutes per tree. I get that trees are a pretty big deal, but at that age, ten minutes per tree WAS LIKE ALL ETERNITY!
Each tree probably only ended up getting two minutes, tops, because my mom couldn’t believe how quickly we finished the task and were back to more fun things like making our own paper dolls and watching Full House.
*My mom is not just into evergreens. She loves fruit trees, too – tune in to Episode 13 of the Adventures of the Conservation Pack videos when J-Dog visits the farm and learns all about her amazing apple operation!
I have extremely fond memories of the year I spent with my youngest son when he was in preschool and his older brothers were in full day elementary school. I would pick him up from preschool and we would spend the afternoons together; sometimes going to parks, running errands, or visiting the library. One of our favorite things to do together in the warmer months was to take a picnic to a local park. My favorite season for this was spring. This photo shows him on the picnic blanket underneath a beautiful blooming crabapple tree at Waterworks Park in Des Moines. On those days, under those trees, my heart was filled with happiness.
My tree story begins with an old tree, but it is rooted in new beginnings. A year ago, I moved into my first house as a first-time homebuyer. The trees in my backyard are old, established, and they tower over the surrounding area, adding shade, privacy, and to my excitement, habitat for birds!
Birds hold a special fondness for one tree in particular in the backyard. On almost any morning, I can watch chickadees and finches of all kinds balance on the tree’s swaying branches before swooping to the feeder. With the advent of spring, robins, goldfinches, cardinals, and blue jays have added themselves to the scene of backyard swooping, singing, perching, and general elation over a sheltered place with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Feeling inspired by trees? Let the feeling last by checking out our TREEology music video series on the Water Rocks! website.
Help us celebrate this Arbor Day, and every day, in honor of trees!