My goal is to plant
three hundred and sixty-five seeds this
Jewish calendar year

Or preferably
three hundred and sixty-five seedlings or saplings
grown from seeds.

While growing trees from seeds
This seems manageable
for Hashem is my strength and might.

Daunting this seemed
a few days ago
as I connected to the feeling
based on the belief
that on my own I cannot do this

On my own I can do nothing at all…

Long have I wept
at the lack of support
I have experienced

As I waited for the right person
to come along
to be my support;

Waiting for the earth-conscious
business partner
to compliment my skills…

Yet all along
they have been there
inviting me
to do this and that

and I have held back
for fear of my inability
to complete a project.

Since I was initiated as a sangoma
I have had this feeling
that on my own
I am nothing

Now that I know
that Hashem is for me
that Hashem is my strength and might
I can do this with Him.

Hashem and I can do this;

working together joyfully
towards a blue blue earth
now seems possible…

What a relief
even as my cellular memory
continues to doubt it

for immediately
after the “I can do this
with Your help”

up popped the Doubter:

Haven’t you gone to great lengths
to create boundaries?

Have you not said
that as a seed of Israel,
as Zera Israel,
you will not plant hybrids?

Have you not said
that as a Zera Israel
you will not graft trees
except from the same species?

Have you not said
that as a conservationist
you will only plant indigenous trees?

Have you not said
that as a conservationist
you will go a step further
and only plant endemic trees?

Have you not said
that as a conservationist
you will only plant endemic trees
where they belong in a landscape?

Have you not said
that as a permaculturalist
you will plant in guilds only?

Have you not said
that as a permaculturalist
you will include exotic fruit in these food communities?

Have you not said
that as a permaculturalist in the highveld biome
you will focus on nitrogen fixing trees?

As an earth-conscious person
have you not said
that you will work with all people –

listen to their vision for their land
and assist in tweaking it
so that both site owner
or site steward are happy with the result

while you keep an eye
on the right tree
planted in the right place
for the right purpose?

And haven’t you failed?
Failed miserably?
Especially lately?

I have.
I have.
I have.

And I am sorry that I have.
And it is possible that I will fail again
for I am only human.

Then I felt all alone
by my Father in heaven

left to free-fall
by Hashem…

the truth is
that I am alive
that I am still here

And today I can take another step.

For the first one
was to plant some seeds
from the river indigo
growing in my wetland water garden

all those seedlings have been distributed;

I have not followed up
for that’s where trust comes in;
is not my thing…

Based on this
I could simply open my nursery
actively start selling

for spekboom I have a fair amount of…

And sales are desirable
for they make it possible
to generate income.

Yet the spekboom I have
is from cuttings
not seeds…

I can still sell them
Even though they don’t count
in terms of my goal reaching

for biodiversity
comes from trees growing from seeds…

Although spekboom
is classified as a tree
for it has a South African tree number
I am not sure
that strictly speaking it is a tree

I wonder how Judaism defines a tree…
I wonder how botanists define a tree…
Perhaps that will help me clear another category…

Add to the fences
I place around
my tree selling business.

As though these boundaries
aren’t sufficient
I also have a commitment
to work with earth-conscious sangomas.

Being a Benjaminite universalist
with a desire to be inclusive
all this seemed dauntingly
and counter-intuitive

Yet I am beginning to catch a glimmer
of possibility
of managing this with a measure of spiritual integrity.

How fortunate I am
that I can face possible failure
knowing that El Shaddai is with me.

In the end
I noticed that the Noltea africana
in my wetland water garden
had produced seeds

I was surprised-
had no idea that it did so

so focused was I on
the root sprouts that make it possible
to air layer

and sell
within a short timeframe –

except of course
that, like grafting,
it’s only a clone

great for spreading the species
yet not useful for species adaptation
to climate change.

How wonderful it was to learn
something new
through observation

Despite reading the sources below
numerous times
I missed the crucial bit of information
that makes Noltea africana,
also known as soap dogwood,
a useful species for spaces
where the Highveld grassland is no more…

Besides being a natural laundry soap
(I have no idea if it works
for I have tried rubbing a few leaves together
as hand soap
and the results were somewhat disappointing…

Yet I am no scientist

and generally speaking
my ability to beneficiate plants
into useful by-products
have been less than spectacular.

I am glad I have come back to this blog
for today I realized
that I don’t like pressure
not even
to plant 365 seeds a year;

I’d rather do my best
as I go along –
I prefer to do it joyfully
rather than by external compulsion.

I remain hopeful
for having resolved the problem
of seeds finding
on my own property

grows my confidence
that more seeds will become available
when I next require them.

Grateful too
that the two species I have planted thus far
are quick to sprout –

as close to instant gratification
as I can find
in the tree world around me.

The seeds are in the soil,
about seventy of them,
in an old/new system I devised
that saves water
that retains water
that distributes water naturally

Makes keeping seeds moist
over Shabbat
a simpler exercise
than my previous efforts.

No need to look at the soil anxiously
in case it dried out;

No niggling concern
that the water I had placed them in
might cause damping off.

And all this extra benefit
without drip irrigation
of any sort…

In writing this
I am glad to note
that all the tree growing boundaries
I set for myself
have delivered a resolution:

My basic orientation
is towards biodiversity


in living soil

Shared for the sake of authentic being.
Shared for all sustainable Indigenous Knowledge practices acknowledging. 
Shared for blessing.

(©Archaela 5782 Tevet 05; 09)

Sources and Resources

Noltea africana

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