Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America!  Today marks two hundred thirty nine years for this great experiment in self government launched by our forefathers at Independence Hall in Philadelphia back when we were a mere thirteen colonies ready to control our own destiny.  Many, even most of the early delegates were or had been farmers with a deep love of the land and respect for nature as well as a strong commitment to independence and a sincere belief in self rule instead of always yielding to the King of England.  Plants and crops have played and are still playing a significant role in our country’s birth and development.  From the pilgrims arrival they struggled to produce food with the seeds and crops they brought from England and finally had more success when the native Indians shared their crops and growing ideas.  The love of tea and the high taxes claimed by King George III on those imports helped focus the new country on a course of independence.  The wisdom of farmers and their reading, writing and grand discussions as they traded crops and hunted for new crops and production areas also resulted in exchanges of ideas and a quest for freedom and the power and ability to make their own decisions.  They even wanted the ability to decide on what crops to grow and where they could grow them and then sell or trade their crops and products as they chose.  As the years have gone by and our country has grown to a full fifty states it dramatically expanded the variety of crops that could be grown in our country.  It has made it possible to grow crops in the part of the country best suited to each crop and has allowed us to become the most productive country in the world with a smaller per cent of our population required to grow our food and fiber so that we can all focus on the vocations we most enjoy and where we have the greatest skills.  This has allowed us to not only feed our fellow Americans but to export and help feed and clothe many more around the world.  The wide variety of crops and the specialization has allowed us to develop many experts who continually breed new and better varieties of ornamental and food crops and develop better growing methods to improve our quality of life and to feed more people better.

Our country was founded with a freedom to find and breed new crops and to give people choices.  We don’t order someone to eat the new, healthy variety of tomato or blueberry or to plant the newest, brightest color of geranium, penta, or crape myrtle.  But we do encourage folks to keep hunting and breeding for the newest and best varieties and to give us choices of what to eat or what to plant and enjoy.  The world would be a boring place and subject to a lot more “plague” type insect and disease problems if we all planted and raised the very same crops.  The diversity of varieties and plants has served our nation well and should allow us to continue to grow and prosper.

We are blessed to be able to garden or farm because we enjoy it and want to, not because our very ability to eat and survive is at stake.  That is a tremendous freedom when you face extreme conditions whether it is drought, flooding or disease to know that your survival does not depend only on the crop that is currently in the ground.  The success of modern farming has allowed us the freedom and often provides the means to grow pretty ornamental trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers and not to be totally dependent on our fruits, berry, grains and vegetable harvests.   Most of our founding fathers were good agronomists, horticulturist, or botanists and many helped breed, discover or introduce new plants.

Spend some time this summer to do your own plant exploring and then expand your yard and garden with some new types and varieties of plants.

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