By Adam McClary, Farmer Support Team
This month’s featured farmer is David Chang (pictured below with wife Bonnie). I am excited for this interview because David is an exemplary farmer. He has a 10-acre plantation in lower Mississippi that he planted with us spring. In his first year, he has a beautiful field of trees that are 10 to 15 feet tall. His background is in medicine and prior to World Tree he had not participated much in the way of agriculture other than growing a few tomato plants in his backyard. With our help and connections, he was able to learn everything he needed to know to be successful in growing the Empress Splendor tree from day one.
Bonnie and David Chang
Thanks for being willing to do this interview David. You have an incredible field of trees. I find it hard to believe you don’t have any history of forestry or agriculture. What made you decide to plant with us?
I am a bit of an environmental nut in a way. I recycle and conserve whenever I can. So, when I found out about World Tree it really made sense. Not only are we planting something that draws down carbon and releases oxygen, we are also planting the trees just one time, but knowing the tree will be around for multiple harvests (since they regrow from the stump).
This is appealing for me because now we can leave something behind for our grandchildren.
Yeah, that is the amazing power of these trees. Thanks for your commitment to the environment. How did you find out about us?
I first found out about World Tree on Wefunder in the fall of 2018. At that time, you were raising money to fund the farmers and plant these trees. Over the next two to three months, all I kept thinking about is that I could get 50% of the harvest if I were a farmer. We have a lot of land in Mississippi and it is not rocket science to plant trees. I started doing a lot of reading about this tree and kept hearing how it was a hardy tree. I connected with another farmer who had grown this tree and learned from his experience as well, and decided to just go ahead and try planting with World Tree.
How was your experience this year- how did the trees do?
We had a 7 week drought this summer and the trees seemed to get a little stressed. I ended up watering the whole field three times and then spot watered individual trees that looked stressed with up to ten gallons a piece. No matter how much I watered these trees, they did not really seem to be happy until we got rain. We ended up getting 10 inches of rain and I did the math on that. I calculated that over my 10 acres the rain that fell was the equivalent of 3 million gallons of water. That is when I realized that my watering was keeping the trees alive, but there is no substitute for actual rain.
Wow, that is a lot of water! How do your trees look now?
My trees are planted on a slight slope so the trees toward the bottom are around 15 feet tall and the trees at the top are around 10 feet tall now. The rain really was good for the trees. The leaves have opened all the way back up and the trees don’t look stressed. I went through my field and counted all my trees and have a 89% survival rate. I am looking at planting another set of trees next spring as well. I just want to make sure I can keep up with everything like I should be.
What would you say to people who are looking at working with us?
The best thing to do is research and read about these trees, as well as go meet up with a farmer who has already grown these trees. Make sure you don’t underestimate the time commitment necessary to keep these trees in good order. It is going to take some work so make sure you have some help lined up. Talk to your family or neighbors to see who you can find that would be willing to help you so that you are not out trying to do all the work by yourself.
That is great advice David. Thanks for sharing with us.