Heading out of Seattle I drove a couple hours north to a town not too far from Whidbey Island for my last farm in the west. Chris, or Bud, grows Douglas Firs, Maples, and Red Cedar trees to re-plant thin forest areas. He also has a small sawmill that is used to plane boards from his woods for furniture or construction projects, and an organic vegetable garden.
Every farm I visited had something distinctly different from the last and this was no exception. I was surprised to learn that trees need much more care than you would think. Just like any other plant they require a certain amount of water and sunlight, and many of the smaller seedlings don't survive even when grown on a farm. I learned about transplanting seedlings, finding the taproot, and how to identify different types of trees.
It was also surprising to me to learn that with all of the logging going on in Washington the rules for re-planting are not very strict at all. This can easily lead to erosion, mudslides, and other problems later on... not to mention what the mountaintops out there look like. While logging companies are required to plant seeds for new trees they are not required to care for them, so much of that land is eventually overgrown with bushes and weeds and the forest is gone.
Around the time I was here I went into a restaurant's bathroom that had a sticker on the paper towel dispenser. "Please remember these come from trees" it said.
After my week at Bud's it won't be easy to forget where ALL of our paper products come from.