I told my friend I wanted to plant millions of trees in the U.S. in 2020.
Although I had researched some great programs already established in this country, I wanted to take my own personal initiative to contribute to the reforestation movement. The U.N. had just announced their goal of planting one trillion trees, but I believe our planet needs more than that.
“Do you know about Tu BiShvat?” my friend asked.
“No,” I responded, “I was raised Catholic.”
“Oh, my gosh, this is going to blow your mind!” He edged up in his seat like he was telling me a secret and said, “Every year, on Tu BiShvat, in Israel, people plant trees to celebrate the ‘New Year of the Trees.’ There are huge groves of fruit trees because, year after year, more trees are planted. There are tons of trees: apricot, fig, olive, pomegranate, they’re just everywhere! The markets are filled with fresh and dried fruit for the special meal they have on that day. People go with their picnics and plant new trees together.”
My mind was indeed blowing.
Little tiny bits of grey matter must have been coming out of my ears because it took me a while to respond. “That’s…awesome!” I finally said.
I told my friend, “I know very few people who actually plant a tree on Arbor Day. It’s more optional, like Flag Day or something. And then there’s Earth Day, which is really great, but it’s not dedicated to trees, it’s more surface, a hip hip hooray for the planet and all the ‘great things we’re doing’ to be ecologically conscious.”
Then my new friend, while steadily becoming a new bestie, said something absolutely brilliant.
“You know, Earth Day has a little bit of a marketing problem. It’s too close to Arbor Day and it’s got a little bit of an image problem.” We both laughed. Tu BiShvat is February 10th this year and has some great marketing potential!”
Earth Day has done a great deal of good by raising awareness about our precious little blue ball floating in a vast sea of space.
We’ve come a long way since the first Earth Day, and awareness has grown substantially since then. Today, we have rallies in some big cities and even stretch out the global conversation over the course of 7 days.
Arbor Day is great, but falling on April 24, it’s coming a little late for those of us in the southwest who could use a more regionally appropriate reminder to plant trees. In April, trees at the nurseries are available and leafing out; however, once the tree is leafed out, it is putting energy into its leaves rather than into developing its root systems.
In Santa Fe, where the ground is usually pretty ready to plant by early February, the spirit of Tu BiShvat presents a beautiful invitation to be more intentional with our caretaking of the planet.
I am not trying to Americanize or Anglicize Tu BiShvat. Instead, I invite you to celebrate the trees with me all year round with some regional awareness about what the trees really need to thrive!
February is actually a great month to plant trees in the southwest. The ground is soft, the trees are still dormant, and they have plenty of time to develop their roots. The moisture we tend to receive in February and March makes for a perfect opportunity to personalize our contribution to reforesting the earth.
Just think of it! At last count, there are approximately 330 million people in the U.S. If each one of us planted a tree at EITHER Tu BiShvat or Arbor Day every year for the next five years, we could plant over 1.6 trillion trees.
And that, my friends, would do so much to help us reach the goal climate scientists are saying we need to help curb climate change.
Are you up for planting more trees with me for the next five years?!