Photo by Matt Degnan
Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. ... and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.
--John Muir, 1895
Culled from a selection of John Muir's quotes collected by Harold Wood for the Sierra Club.
are your friendly farmers.
I'm often asked how Tree Talk Natives came about. I grew up with a hobby farm, horses, ducks, lots of cats, while Chuck spent much of his childhood roaming the woods for arrowheads and other artifacts. He and I both went on to pursue careers in journalism and fundraising. Years ago a neighbor offered to buy us a tree, and I had a vague idea that I wanted a native tree, but I had no idea where to even look, or what to suggest. In went a Cleveland Pear :(.
Later I built a few gardens with help from a designer specializing in natives, and I learned to research plants.
As my journalism career faded with the birth of my son, I tossed around business start-up ideas. I thought about farming but brushed those ideas aside as unrealistic.
Then the "buy local" movement gained momentum, and everything came together. There was a whole community of small farmers out there, and they were surviving, even thriving.
The name alone was months in the making. I asked friends and family for suggestions, even launched a contest. I settled on names only to toss them out days later.
Then I discovered Richard Powers’ The Overstory and its fictionalized narrative of Susan Simard’s groundbreaking work on how trees “talk” with each other.
I wanted that concept in our nursery, but how?
Walking my dog one day I saw a Wizard of Oz face impressed on a giant oak tree and lightheartedly imagined the tree talking to me. More tossing words around, and out came Tree Talk Natives.
Several hurdles still faced us -- finding land, irrigation, what and where to purchase. Loudoun County Cooperative Extension and Beth Sastre-Flores helped tremendously, even letting me enroll in a Master Gardener class as a "Beginning Farmer."
Most amazing was Lou Nichols at Loudoun Nursery. I could not have launched Tree Talk without Lou's help. He donated supplies and encouraged me to go with fabric containers, answered question after question, introduced me to wholesalers and made even small suggestions that yielded big steps forward.
Tree Talk has grown a lot since 2020, and while our focus still is on trees and shrubs, we've added a few flowers and grasses, and we're adding new products every season, learning and growing with our farm and our customers. We're fortunate to be doing something we love, even though we are working harder than ever, and meeting so many amazing people who love natives as much as we do.
We'd love to hear from you!
157 Vaughan Hill Road, North Field
Rochester, MA 02770