Video | Welcome to Project Pando

Learn more about our volunteer tree farm where we are growing native trees to give away to the public for free.

Hey y'all, welcome to Project Pando. This is our volunteer tree farm where we are growing native trees to give away to the public for free.

So today, I want to tell you a story, actually. It's going to be a little different than what we normally do on these videos. We're going to walk, we're going to talk, and I'm going to tell you a tale.

Our story begins with the idea that here at Leaf & Limb, we care. It's central to our values. It's a part of our purpose. We care for trees because we love our planet. And there are three things that culminated in this farm today, and I want to kind of just walk you through those things.

So back in 2017, we started a volunteer-driven program whereby we would go out and actually do volunteer work once a month with all sorts of local non-profits, and it was so much fun. We loved it. We met all kinds of cool people and fun organizations, and ultimately, you know, we believe in giving back to the community. It's really important because... and that's where the name Pando comes from, by the way. Pando is a colony of aspens out in Utah and they're all connected by this root system. So Pando is this living organism whereby what's good for one is good for all. And it's this idea that we're all connected. So we did this volunteer work, and we really loved it. The only challenge was we often found ourselves doing projects that, you know, we had no expertise. So the first issue, I suppose, is we felt like we could be contributing more using trees.

The second thing that got us here today is the available nursery stock. So a lot of nurseries sell trees. The issue is a lot of these trees are species that come from overseas, and they're just not good for our local ecosystems. And oftentimes those species are propagated. So you know, all of the maples at the nursery are genetically identical. So we're losing genetic diversity.

And then the third big thing is we need 40 billion trees in the ground in our lifetime, to begin fixing major environmental issues. I'm talking clean water, topsoil to grow food, a place for all of our bugs and birds and animals to live, you know, biodiversity, carbon sequestration. These really, really big things that trees can fix.

So these three things. October of last year, we began doing some brainstorming, and we came up with this idea: let's turn Project Pando into a volunteer-driven tree farm. That's exactly the kind of stuff we know how to do. So we've started brainstorming and coming up with our exact plans on you know how's this going to work, and how should this look, and one of the first big obstacles we ran into was we need land. Because you cannot do this experiment without some space in which to test and try and grow, right. So thankfully Triangle Land Conservancy is just this fabulous organization who agreed to give us 10 acres here at the Williamson Preserve. This is one of their newest preserves, and it's just, it's stunning out here, and they have agreed to let us use 10 acres to begin this endeavor.

So where we are today. We've just begun experimenting with all the different ways to grow trees. It's mostly just Leaf & Limb right now, but I'll get to that in just a minute. And we're trying out different methodologies and techniques on how to grow trees and do so sustainably. Right, we don't want to create different ecological issues or different environmental issues, especially if this scales up. What we are hoping is that we create a hub here locally, where people can come and volunteer and learn and get their hands dirty and that we develop this endless supply of free native species that have high genetic diversity because we're sourcing all of our seeds from the wild and we're finding saplings from the wild.

But on the big picture we're actually hoping to do something even more important. We're creating a blueprint for everything. So when we find the techniques that work best for shade or work best for hot sun or or how to grow this tree or that tree. We're mapping everything out into this complete blueprint. And we're also not only building a blueprint for how to do all of this stuff. You know, finding the trees, raising the trees, growing the trees, caring for the trees, but we're also building a blueprint for how the organization can function with volunteer inputs. And we're trying to create something that we can give away to the world for free because we want to give this information to anybody who wants it. So that they can create something very similar in their own community. And we think that if we can do this, now we're creating this huge open pipeline to free genetically diverse native trees that any tree organization anywhere in the world can take advantage of. And we can begin overcoming the major environmental issues that are plaguing our planet.

So if you want to get involved we'd love to have your help. We need people to help grow... to help think... to help collect resources.... We just need people to help in general and we'd love to have you.

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