Dear Friends of Long Branch,
The rains and snows of late fall and early winter have brought some of the creeks back to life and have been a great blessing to all the living beings here in the mountains!
As many of you know this is the second year in a row that we’ve experienced diminished precipitation, so every time a little falls from the sky we give thanks!
And we do have so much to be thankful for this year!
A group of Brandeis University students came in February and offered a tremendous amount of help with pruning and transplanting of apple trees, Heritage variety red raspberries, blueberries, Wineberries, thornless blackberries, and native Blackcap raspberries.
Student groups from Appalachian State University, Asheville-Buncombe Community College, Wofford College, University of Florida (2 groups!), Phoenix Outdoor (a Wilderness Therapy Program), Evergreen Charter School, Asheville School, Davidson College (many, many different groups on several different days with us!), Woodlawn School of Davidson, NC, and Western Michigan University all contributed mightily to our work here!
A wonderful group of interns showed up this year with cheerful dispositions and a contagious enthusiasm! Della Elich from Colorado, Jenn Baldwin from Greensboro, Paul Davis and Heidi Brill from Oregon, Jamie Kremmel from Illinois, Rosaura Butron from UNC-Asheville, James Wudel from Davidson College and Winston Salem, Steve Cosgrove and Vanita Chauhan from Florida, and Jonathan Baxter from Washington State.
We are certainly grateful for all their enormous contributions to our projects here!
The 52 different heirloom varieties of apple trees, Heritage variety red raspberries, blueberries, Wineberries, thornless blackberries, and native Blackcap raspberries all made up for last year’s freeze-diminished crops by overwhelming us with their generosity!
Literally hundreds of folks came out with their families to enjoy the berry picking, hiking, and cloud watching!
The apple trees produced an incredibly bountiful crop and we conducted several cider pressing workshops much to the delight of everyone!
Mark Banker (Warren Wilson College grad) and students from the Webb School in Knoxville, Tennessee planted some of our back-crossed hybrids of the American Chestnut tree for the Clearfield Community Land Trust (CCLT) along with the Just Connections group and Vision in Action group in East Tennessee.
Marie Cirillo of CCLT said that the Webb students had a “life changing experience” in planting these American Chestnut trees!
For those of you who aren’t familiar, the land around these folks in East Tennessee has been severely strip-mined for coal over the years, and now a wood chip mill is causing the remaining forests to be stripped from all the surrounding mountains.
In spite of this extraordinary adversity, they still project great courage and great heart!
And now they want to plant more American Chestnuts, so they’re coming back at the end of December to help us dig them for more East Tennessee transplanting!
The Chestnuts are helping us to rediscover our deep rooted connections to the mountains themselves!
When I wrote Marie back I shared these words:
“It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds.
Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old.
Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop
and find the good red road, the shielding tree!”
– Black Elk
Our Long Branch Board member and solar designer extraordinaire Walt Clark helped us with two solar domestic water heater (SDHW) workshops this year.
The first one we built for our Community Center was an Integrated Passive Solar Water Heating System (IPSWH), also known as a Batch System, Breadbox Solar Water Heater, or Integrated Collector and Storage System (ICS). It featured the use of 3-40 gallon water heating tanks plumbed in series that are able to generate 175 degrees F. on a sunny day and provide 80% of a residence’s needs.
For our second workshop, we installed an active, flat plate solar collector system on the Orchard House here at Long Branch. We organized the workshop for the Asheville Green Opportunity Corps, who attract and train local, disadvantaged youth for promising, green-collar careers through environmental service projects and apprenticeships with local green businesses.
We once again hosted the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s and Appalachian Farm Stewardship Program’s Farm Tour here at Long Branch at the end of June, and over 120 folks came for the tours and the berry picking – a great day!
The Best Buy store in Asheville adopted Long Branch for the United Way’s Day of Caring in September and we were extremely grateful for all their help.
All in all, we have been extraordinarily blessed this year with everyone’s generous help and nature’s incredible bounty!
We know that your end-of-the-year charitable contribution plans are probably well underway, but we do humbly invite you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to Long Branch if your budget allows.
May everyone enjoy a bright and cheerful holiday season, and may everyone’s good thoughts, good feelings, good words and good deeds create a peaceful and harmonious New Year!
Thanks to all of you for all the good will and support you’ve so kindly offered us this year! Please come and see us when you can!
Closing Words, adapted from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address ….
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words.
Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anyone or anything out.
If someone or something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.
Now our minds are one.
With much gratitude and appreciation,
For conservation and sustainability,
Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
POB 369 Big Sandy Mush Creek
Leicester, NC 28748
Tel. 828/683-3662 Fax: 828/683-9211
Web Site: www.LongBranchEEC.org
“To restore the land one must live and work in a place.
To work in a place is to work with others.
People who work together in a place become a community,
and a community, in time, grows a culture.
To work on behalf of the wild is to restore culture.”
– Gary Snyder