Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The corner of the world that I have inhabited for over 21 years (my whole life with exception to the 3 and half years I spent in College Park) have been in a Silver Spring, MD enclave known as White Oak. I attended White Oak Middle School. I have bought the vast majority of my groceries at White Oak Shopping Center. I was raised on books from White Oak library. By all means I am a native White Oakian.
Despite my upbringing and obvious connection to this mighty tree, I never understood the magnificence of this hardwood until recently. Historically, the White Oak (Quercus Alba) has been an important source of lumber for Americans of all walks. It's acorns are an important food source for many different types of native animals. The acorns are even edible to humans if prepared properly. I have yet to eat acorn pancakes, but I know that if we plan to localize and diversify our food source in the eastern United States we must make use of all edible foods inherent in our ecosystem.
My desire to increase the use of ecosystems as a source of local resource wealth has led me back to my metaphorical roots. Last week I was taking a walk at the confluence of the northeast branch of The Anacostia River and I noticed a germinated acorn. With further inspection I noticed that a great abundance of germinated acorns had littered the path beneath my feet. Like the radicles reaching from the acorns an idea sprung.
What if I could transplant these germinated acorns across the watershed to increase the abundance of a tree that will provide multiple ecosystem services for future generations. In doing this I would combat climate change via reforestation, help wildlife by providing a food source, increase the abundance of an untapped local food source, get other people engaged in environmental conservation by giving them acorns to grow, and have fun!!! I grabbed as many as I could (only the acorns that were on the path) and stuffed them into my front pocket. I bought some row pots and planted them in my house for spring transplants.
Now if the idea stopped there, it would not have come from my mind. So I went back to the confluence and gathered more acorns to give as holiday presents. Again I only took acorns that were on the path. These acorns would get eaten and/or the saplings would ultimately get trampled. I collected about 100 germinated acorns and organized them into categories for distribution to friends, families, and other environmental advocates across my watershed. If you can promise a safe to place to grow a white oak ask me for an acorn.
The acorns will grow long taproots very rapidly need atleast a foot of soil depth beneath them to prosper if they are grown indoors. Some can be planted outdoors now and will lay dormant over the winter before prospering in the spring. Other's can grow indoors if they have proper soil depth and be transplanted as saplings in the spring. Ultimately, all the acorns need adequate moisture and acces to nutrients so they can thrive. They are a very hardy species that have distributed across much of the Eastern United States.
By acting as a vector for acorn distribution The Harvest Collective will act as a catalyst for positive community growth and reforestation. I would like to replace every non-native bradford pear in the watershed with a White Oak. (sorry for being a spicieist) If you would like to be as happy as Eric J. Lewis is, send me an email to get an acorn. I can get you an acorn that is either ready for planting now, or one that could use some TLC before planting in the spring.