Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 12, 2020 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.
Restoring our habitat is of the utmost importance. We must act swiftly to replant everything we’ve destroyed if we want to succeed at lowering atmospheric carbon levels. Interestingly, our Founding Fathers, as well as early American farmers, were equally concerned about preserving and maintaining our habitat. Sharing plants and seeds across the miles added vibrant diversity to our landscape. Each packet of seeds acted as a time capsule carrying the promise of a healthy future.
Time capsules capture the imagination of people everywhere. The International Time Capsule Society estimates there to be between 10,000 and 15,000 time capsules worldwide. Even fictional time capsules have a place in modern culture. You may be familiar with the episode of “The Simpson’s” in which Principal Skinner’s prized container is contaminated by Bart’s partially eaten sandwich. Two current time capsules planted in Flushing Meadows, New York contain common items such as a hat, a fountain pen, and a pack of cigarettes, all meant to convey a sense of what life was like in the 20th Century. Seeds also made the list, showing just how important plants are to our survival. Carefully preserved wheat, corn, oats, and tobacco seeds, are just a few of these precious materials we are sharing with the future. One wonders: Are these seeds intended to be agricultural specimens or life-giving sources of food and oxygen for a world that could be struggling in 5,000 years?
If all goes well, the seeds sent forward into time will yield a bountiful harvest. Seeds certainly hold promise for the future. Consider the seeds shared in the 1700s between an American farmer and an English businessman. According to Andrea Wulf’s wonderful book, The Brother Gardeners (2010), the farmer, John Bartram, supplied American plants and seeds to Peter Collinson, in London. Over the course of 40 years, the relationship flourished, and New World trees and shrubs migrated across the Atlantic, adding oxygen-giving greenery to European gardens. The seeds acted as a time capsule joining two worlds and offered hope for a future full of essential vegetation.
Seeds help ensure the future of our planet.
- Seed banks hold promise for our future, as they preserve endangered species and genetic diversity threatened by climate change.
- The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, stores more than 980,000 seed samples from all over the world.
- Organizations such as the Native Seed Network and the Plant Conservation Alliance are working to restore decimated habitats and re-populate them with native seeds.
Be Part of the Solution
As days grow short and we wait patiently for the light of the new year, let’s consider what elements of the past are worth passing on to the future. Which seeds can we plant now that will strengthen our planet as it fights global warming? Plant a tree, add shrubs to your yard, cover a wall with Virginia Creeper. Share with others the value that a leafy green environment holds for our future. Create a time capsule that will make a difference!
Timely Tree Facts:
- Most oak trees don’t grow acorns until they are at least 50 years old.
- Conifers grow 3-5 feet per year in the first five years and can reach 90 feet by age 25.
- One of the oldest trees in the world is a bristlecone pine named “Methusela” (4852 years old as of 2020).
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What to Plant in Winter: https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/what-to-plant-in-winter
Fast-growing trees in Virginia: https://timberworksva.com/fast-growing-trees-virginia/
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