Friends of Trees
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Let's Get Arboreal 

Arbor Day's rise from idea to holiday coincides with the growth of this country’s nascent conservation movement in the late 19th century. The era’s focus on protecting natural resources involves surnames as familiar as Olmsted, Grant and Roosevelt along with contributions from people with nostalgic forenames such as Phineas, Verplanck and Horiatio. All played a part in the era’s preservation and planting of trees. 

Before there was a formal Arbor Day, there was George Perkins George_Perkins_MarshMarsh, who wrote an influential book called Man and Nature. Marsh, the Jared Diamond of his day, made an argument that deforestation could lead to land degradation. Man and Nature inspired a generation to think about how humans influence their surroundings.  

One of the people inspired by this new call to nature was Julius Sterling Morton (whose son, Joy Morton, founded Morton Salt). The senior Morton moved west to Nebraska after finishing his education at University of Michigan (Go Wolverines). Morton viewed trees practically, believing they could help Nebraskans by serving as windbreaks at the edge of their fields, furnishing homesteaders with fuel and building materials and most importantly, providing shade from the hot prairie sun. He used his power as a newspaperman and politician to promote the planting of trees. On the first Arbor Day in 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted. 

Beginning in 1885, Nebraska, known as the Tree Planter’s State until the moniker, Cornhuskers displaced that title, celebrated Arbor Day as a state holiday on Morton’s April 22 birthday. By then, the annual celebratory ritual of planting trees had spread to other states. If trees yielded predictable dividends, they weren’t always being planted for those reasons. By curiously applying Marsh’s theories about trees and desertification, many people argued that planting trees would actually induce rainfall. Modernity offers greater understanding of ecosystems, but at the time, there was a so-called scientific belief that trees caused water to fall from the sky. 

Currently, tree planting celebrations are a moveable feast. Nationally, Arbor Day is designated as the last Friday of April. Washingtonians observe the day on the second Wednesday of the month. In Oregon, it’s a week-long commemoration during the first week of April. Here at FOT, it’s a rolling month-long event: Incorporating the environmental elements of Earth Day, the celebratory aspects of Mardi Gras and the ethos of the original Arbor Day. Arbor Day’s founder, J. Sterling Morton, said of the holiday dedicated to planting trees, “It is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past while Arbor Day proposes for the future.”



 What Happens at a Planting...Stays at a Planting



Friends of Trees





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Our friends at Laughing Planet are offering a limited edition Tree-hugger tote bag. 

In addition to being the envy of everyone, with each tote you purchase, you'll be helping Laughing Planet plant a tree with us.

Portland and Eugene locations only, while supplies last. 


Tree-hugger; it's a compliment. 



Earth Share Oregon

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Friends of Trees
3117 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
Portland, OR 97212

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