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  • Jon

February 24, 2018

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

I have been invited by members of the OSP Asian Pacific Family Club (The prison club that came up with the idea for the Peace Garden.) to come to the prison to meet them and hear about plans for the garden.

Don't get me started telling stories from Haiti. I can go on for hours.



Winter greetings,  

I hope this finds you well and, if not, may you return to health soon. Even with the bit of snow we recently had here and the chilly 21° F morning that followed, Spring is making it apparent it will soon be upon us. Hopefully the Oemleria cerasiformis (osoberry or Indian plum) and Salix scouleriana (scouler's willow) will have crops to harvest this year as both species were flowered out in the cold weather. It will be time to begin collecting the early species before I know it.

I don't have much seed news to write about right now but a few folks have already begun placing their orders for this year and I welcome more of you to do the same. The talk I gave to the Corvallis NPSO chapter in early January on seed collecting was well attended and well received. I ended up sharing again a couple weeks later to a local high school class and I will doing another presentation on seed collection, cleaning and storage; tips and techniques to the McMinnville NPSO chapter. That talk will be on Thursday, April 26th from 7 to 8:45 pm in the Carnegie Room of the McMinnville Public Library, 225 NW Adams St., McMinnville. Come if you can. I shared some good secrets at the earlier talks and I will do so again. (It sounds like I may also end up sharing at some point in the Portland area to Backyard Habitat folks. I'll let you know if that gets set.)

Speaking of talks, the main reason I am writing this time is to mention some other non-seed talks. You may remember that I made a mention, back in the fall, about a Peace Garden planned for the state prison in Salem. I did end up donating some money to the project and received two wonderful thank you letters from inmates involved with the project. Since then I have traded a number of emails with those prisoners and my wife, Flip, and I attended a gathering at Willamette University on February 11th featuring  a talk by Hoichi Kurisu, the designer of the garden and a couple other speakers. This is a great project. I think it would be wonderful if the OAN gets involved in supporting it. 




I have been invited by members of the OSP Asian Pacific Family Club (The prison club that came up with the idea for the Peace Garden.) to come to the prison to meet them and hear about plans for the garden. I think it would be great; if I, some of you and perhaps some OAN staff can make a date to meet at the prison in Salem and hear from the club members about how we can help with their project. Please contact me if you are interested.

I have a story about one of the photos Hoichi Kurisu used in his presentation. It was of a garden in the World War II Japanese internment camp at Poston, Arizona. One of my brother-in-laws is of Japanese ancestry. Mark's parents were both in the Poston camp. Mark's father, Tek, told us years ago about helping to build the very garden that Hoichi showed in his talk. Tek said when the garden was complete they had no koi for the pond in the garden. The Colorado River was a couple miles away from the camp. Tek and several others were allowed out of the camp to walk to the river. At the river they caught some carp which they wrapped in wet burlap bags and carried back through the dry desert to the pond in the camp garden. Although it was an unjust situation Tek and Yoko, his wife, had very fond memories of that camp garden. It will be wonderful if soon there is a similar garden in the Salem prison.

The other talks I want to let you know about are book readings by my oldest daughter, Apricot, from her memoir about growing up in Haiti. The Gospel of Trees will be available in a couple weeks. The focus of the book is our 4 1/2 years of living as a family in Haiti in the early 1980s and 90s and the people we worked with. Apricot has worked for years on this story. I am very proud of her. I am not so proud of some of the stories told in the book told about me but they happened and she had my permission to write about them. I expect we all have made mistakes and it is good if we are able to learn from them. 

Don't get me started telling stories from Haiti. I can go on for hours. Those days in Haiti were challenging and interesting times that have deeply impacted us all. We learned so much. Some of the intense memories bring big smiles and others still bring tears. Haiti is both a hard and beautiful place. Flip and I volunteered for two months in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and we saw again, in a new way, how resilient many of the Haitian people are.




At this point Apricot has readings arranged in Portland, Seattle, Corvallis, Ashland, Chico and Corte Madera, CA (the Bay area). In case some of you are interested in attending a reading near you here is a link with info for most of those readings. The site will be updated as more readings are added. Here is a link to a blog Apricot wrote for the book release reading at Powell's Books on March 8th in Portland. We plan to attend as many of the readings as we can.


This week it is time for me to start pruning fruit trees, canes and vines in earnest. Normally I try to be finishing up my pruning by now but on January 2nd I started a long and hard project. The old farmhouse we live in needed to have the old galvanized pipes under it replaced. In order to do that crawl space needed to be dug under house. And if I was going to do that much digging; then we also have been wanting to get the old house connected to the foundation for when the big Cascadia earthquake comes, so I dug and dug.

It took me 39 days of crawling, digging and hauling but I finished my part of the project last Friday. I hauled out a total of 403 snow sleds full of soil as well as some of rock and bricks, of wood and of pipe. And one sled load of 10, long dead, cat skeletons, 2 mice and one rat skeleton that were scattered around under the house. I kept hoping to find an arrowhead but only found a few obsidian flakes. I did find what at one time was a nice pocket knife but it is badly rusted now. In a way it feels like this year has just begun and yet over 10% of 2018 for me went into this effort. It is great to be done. Plumbers have already replaced the pipe and the earthquake retrofit is scheduled to happen in a couple weeks.

Each day when I was finished digging I did get in long training walks around our field. Before seed harvesting starts again I have 3 strenuous hikes planned for early April in the southern California desert mountains where I grew up. I'll send out a short note right before I'm gone for those hikes to remind you to let me know if you have any immediate need for seed before I head south for those couple of weeks. When it is time to get seed again I will go after it with the same determination and effort that went into the digging and joy that will go into the hiking. My current list is attached along with the garden photo from Posten. Standing up straight and glad to be above ground, Jon

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