Why We’re Re-Foresting Bela Farm

In 2017, Shoresh will plant 16,000 trees at Bela Farm. We’re taking on this bold endeavor because we deeply value our tree friends and all the gifts they bring to our lives. Trees bless us with food, clean air, carbon sequestration, habitat, beauty, medicine, oxygen, wood to burn, branches to climb, maple syrup and spiritual wisdom. At Shoresh, we truly are tree huggers.

In our work, we often see how ancient wisdom informs modern practice. In other words, “the old is the new.” Today, our government and community members understand the importance of planting trees and are supportive of our initiative to reforest Bela Farm. Our ancestors also understood the essential roles trees play in our lives and we will draw on their wisdom for support as we wait patiently (approximatly 200 years) for our forest at Bela Farm to mature.

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Here are some examples of how ancient wisdom and contemporary knowledge inform our work:

  • Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakai taught: “If you have a sapling in your hand and someone tells you ‘The Messiah is coming!,’ plant the sapling before greeting the Messiah.” Luckily, our government also believes in the importance of planting trees! The trees planted at Bela Farm will count towards the Ontario’s government’s mission to plant 50 Million Trees by 2025.
  • Our sages were correct in thinking “If not for trees, human life could not exist” (Midrash Sifre Deuteronomy 20:19). This is particularly important in our time, as trees sequester carbon, clean the air and provide us with so much food and medicine. Did you know that aspirin comes from the bark of willow trees?  Situated in the Ontario Greenbelt, the trees planted at Bela Farm will provide essential habitat for countless species and will contribute to the $52 million worth of carbon sequestration that this two-million acre area provides annually.
  • The Torah teaches, “A person is like a tree.” May we each merit that description. In 50 years, a single tree planted at Bela Farm can generate $30,000 in oxygen, recycle $35,000 of water, and eliminate pollutants that would otherwise cost $60,000 to remove from the air!

As we prepare to mark Tu B’Shevat, the new year of the trees, we want to offer our sincere gratitude to all of our tree friends, our ancestors and our contemporary tree appreciators for supporting us in countless ways. Happy new year, trees!

To support our reforestation efforts, click here.

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