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I would change that to a garden. Kids should understand where their food comes from,how to grow healthy food (including animals), and how to prepare it. Either way, it's about the importance of being in touch with the growing planet. I fully believe the farm-to-table movement could do incredible things for the environmental movement.

"Tree hugger", as a pejorative, typically implies a person who appears to have lost a sense of balance in the environmental discussion. People aren't going to move back intro thatched roofed, dirt floored huts, and, when used as a pejorative, that is the inference being made. It's a case of using extremists to invalidate large groups of people. Typical human.

Planting trees and planting a garden call to disparate lessons!

Planting trees is about ecosystem conservation.

Planting and tending a garden is about understanding plant life cycle, the nitrogen cycle, /and/ where food comes from.

Unless the gardens you're thinking of planting self-sustain their nutrients, conserve (or even generate a surplus of) water, and have zero impact on surrounding ecosystems (fertilizer and pesticide runoff), they don't really teach anything about ecosystems other than how we can manipulate them for our gain (greedy or otherwise).

The problem with using a tree to try to teach these lessons is trees grow too slowly. I agree they don't teach exactly the same thing, but the end goal is to make kids aware that we need to be aware that our lives are intertwined with the health of the earth. Seeing the growth cycle at a level that kids can comprehend will do more for that than planting something that, once planted, effectively becomes little more than a piece of scenery to them.

The importance of water conservation, how we interact and effect the water cycle, air quality, and many other things can be taught more effectively using the much-faster growing vegetable garden, and, since the kids have a vested interest (they get to eat what they grow), they are more engaged in these lessons.

I'm not saying kids planting trees is a bad idea, I just don't think it would be a very useful teaching tool for internalizing the importance of conservation.

Some kinds of trees can certainly grow fast enough, especially if it's a multi-year curriculum that gets revisited regularly.

Empress trees grow 10-15 feet in a year.

A weeping willow will grow about 5.5 feet in a year.

both lessons are valuable and complementary. If I have kids I'll try to teach both.

I would suggest that planting trees is part of planting a garden. Trees are a renewable resource that if, managed well, produce so many benefits. Where I live, 100's of thousands of acres are managed over offset 30 year cycles.

The idea that those espousing animal and plant "husbandry" (to use the more archaic term) are all extremists is why I stopped calling myself an environmentalist and now prefer the term ecologist. Unfortunately, my insistence on recycling (or better yet reusing) still drives my wife and kids nuts.

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