Grandpa’s Out-Growth Forest
By Jadyn Allen
Inspired by “Out-Growth Children” in Braiding Sweetgrass
Hello, my name is Lucy, I am in 6th grade and I live in Shot Pouch Creek in Oregon with my Grandma and Momma. We are all about the outdoors here and forests! However, I am really confused on why there are so many visitors coming here all the time. They are always dressed professionally, like artists, or scientists maybe. I mean I like living here, but I do not know what the big deal is.
My momma and grandma are always busy outside planting trees, making sure no animals are getting in the way, and always welcoming the guests to do whatever they need.
If there is one thing I have learned from living here it is that Cedar trees are so important. They are like medicine and provide so much for our forests and for living people! However, Cedar is hard to grow, especially Red Cedar because it can be really vulnerable to bigger trees and any weather that may damage it.
One day I see my momma talking to an artist, so I go up to her and ask, “Who is that?”
Momma replies, “Oh that is just another visitor who has come to look at our beautiful forest your grandpa has built for us!”
I look at her confused, “Grandpa built this forest?”
Momma replies, “Why yes of course, your grandfather has spent many many years building this forest back from the dead. He is known for creating an out-growth forest.”
“Hmm..”I say. “What is an outgrowth forest?”
“An outgrowth forest is when you do not use deforestation or logging but instead rely on the forest to rebuild itself and take care of the land we are on.” Momma answers, “I think that you should talk to Grandma Dawn about this, her and grandpa worked together on this for a while!”
I decide to go and do my own exploring of our forest. There are so many trees, over thousands, I think! It truly is a beautiful forest. We have so many different kinds of berries and I like to pick off a couple and look at them closely. They have beautiful colors. Some of the trees are a lot smaller than the others so I know that we have to keep a close eye on those to make sure they are able to grow okay.
At night it is our time to relax and eat dinner. After dinner I decide to go and sit by grandma Dawn and ask her some questions about grandpa!
“Hey, grandma! How come we have so many different visitors come during the day?” I ask.
“Well, you know sweetie, your grandfather and I have built this beautiful forest,” she says.
“What makes this so special to have people come visit?” I ask curiously.
“Your grandfather loved nature very much and found a huge passion in it. He became so interested in the out-growth forests and wanted to try to figure out how he could build his own. After years and years of working on building this home out of cedar and planting trees throughout our forest, he was able to regain an entire forest from something that used to be long gone and dead!” Grandma explains.
“Wow, that is so cool,” I say as I look at her in amazement.“Yes, when I met your grandfather, he had a whole crew that was helping him develop this forest. I decided to help as much as I could. It is so important that we continue inviting people to visit our forest and learn from what a wonderful thing your grandfather has created. Your grandfather especially wants people to recognize the importance of Mother Cedar. She is what gives nutrition to this forest and keeps a lot of things alive. He always considers her to be the medicine of life.”
“Is that why there are so many cedar trees?” I ask.
“Yes, exactly! There are also a bunch of berry bushes out there as well that keep this forest growing and thriving,” she says.
“Wow, how hard was it for Grandpa to plant all those trees?” I ask.
“Well, you see it took lots of time. We had to figure out how to keep the animals from ruining our trees and bushes because they love to eat off of them.”
So, we went through trials on where to place them, how to keep them protected, and what they needed to flourish. It became a connection between the land and us,” she says with a smile on her face.
“I cannot believe that this is how our home has come to be. All because of Grandpa Franz. He must have been an amazing man. I wish I could have met him,” I say as I look down.
“Oh, sweetie, your grandpa was in touch with nature and absolutely loved being a part of creating such a beautiful place. Now it is our job to keep this forest close to our hearts like he did. That is what he would want. That is also why we have so many visitors, grandfather wanted others to learn from his creation of Out-Growth forests. To show how land and people can come together to rebuild a forest that was thought to be unsalvageable,” she says and gives me a hug.
I was so excited I jumped out of my seat and said, “I am going to help you as much as I can to continue growing this forest and keeping it in our name for the rest of our lives!”
Grandma smiles with tears in her eyes, “Your grandfather would be so proud of you Lucy.”