This spring my Dad (store founder J.E. Lehman) and I planted 4,000 more hardwood seedlings in the farm fields around our home and warehouse. That makes 12,000 in the last three years. We’ve now reforested nearly 45 acres.
In the 20 years or so since Dad first started this project, we’ve planted some 30,000 trees. Dad does most of the work, when he’s not talking to customers at our Kidron store. Just today, at the age of 80, he was out among the latest batch of seedlings trying to figure out a way to keep the mice from chewing on the bark.
UPDATED – By Spring, 2014, Dad and I had planted another 10,000 trees.
200 years ago, when the first settlers arrived here, the land was covered with hardwood trees. It is said that you could walk from one side of Ohio to the other without seeing the sky.
I suppose Dad and I are just trying to put things back the way we found them. But, my son (who is an authority on most everything since he started college) says such talk is cheesy and idealistic. I suppose he’s right.
For one thing, most of the trees back then were chestnuts. Some of the beams in the oldest parts of our store, reconstructed from barns and cabins dating to the early 1800’s, are made of chestnut. A few lonely chestnut trees still stand near our our Kidron store. Somehow, they survived the blight that nearly wiped out the American Chestnut back in the 1950’s.
We’ve planted nearly all hardwoods. We like to mix walnut, oak, cherry and sugar maple. This should allow a sustainable harvest of quality hardwood over the next 100 years (if the caretakers who follow me after I’m gone avoid wasteful clear-cutting and treat my Dad’s legacy with respect).