By Conifer Morze
A few days before our harvest of Christmas trees, I make an offering. I offer prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving to each and every tree and to the Spirit of the Land. This year, I was a bit rushed and was unable to go up to the medicine circle. So, instead, I found one of the elders that was tagged to be cut and gave my offering of beads standing in front of this most gracious being.
I ended up falling to my knees and crying. The full realization of what I was asking from not only this magnificent tree but of all the trees struck me to the core. Not because I felt how sad the tree was in it's life ending, but because I felt its complete acceptance and willingness to offer itself so that the greater majority of other trees; poplar, maple, pine, hemlock, birch, ash, apple, hawthorn, spruce, tamarack and many more beings, were able to live and send out their life-giving energy to the Universe. We "farm" balsam fir so that others may live.
Our life's work is co-creating with the Spirit of the Land. This involves many different areas of knowledge. We need to understand the capabilities of the soil we are growing trees on. We need to be open to new ways of working with the land and soil. We need to be aware of who else lives in the areas we grow trees-such as the beneficial and non-beneficial insects, plants, birds and animals. We need to know how each tree needs to be sheared, baseled, fertilized, and the amount of space each tree requires for it's optimal growth. It is basically gardening on a very large scale and in an elongated time frame. Each tree requires 8-10 years before it can be harvested.
As a gardener of herbs, vegetables and flowers, I watch each plant come into being, flourish, go to seed and return to the Earth. This is done in months. With the trees, everything is done in years. A relationship develops year after year—not just with the trees, but with the whole eco-system of the land and all It's inhabitants.
Farmers live from the land and many build caring relationships with the earth they tend while some, unfortunately, assume a more exploitative relationship. Luckily, I grew up learning from my Irish ancestors to cherish the land and stay in right relationship with all the beings of our farm. My life and work are guided by the ideals Wendell Berry writes of: " The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope".
Much Wisdom comes simply: just by living close to Mother Earth.
Conifer Morze is a second generation balsam tree grower. Her father was one of the first growers in Northern Vermont. As a child, she helped plant balsam seedlings and drag the cut trees. She never expected years later, she would once again be planting balsam seedlings and dragging trees! For the past 23 years, she has lived and worked on Morze Tree Farm, founded by Rick Morze 45 years ago. Conifer also cultivates herbs, vegetables, apple trees and nut trees sprouted from nuts she has collected throughout NE Vermont. https://www.facebook.com/MorzeTreeFarm/