PMG has always loved supporting sustainability efforts, and part of our love for being Green Solutionaries is rooted in Ronnie Wilkins, one of our founders. Ronnie shared with us his sustainability story, and we are so excited to be able to share his story with you. Without further adieu, here’s what Ronnie has to say . . .
. . . I was delighted to hear that PMG chose One Tree Planted as one of its beneficiary charities for its Green Solutionaries Carbon Offsetting program. Having grown up on a farm in Arkansas and spending almost all my time, when not in school, outdoors in the fields and woods, I have always loved being in nature. As an adult learning about the ecological and environmental impact of modern farming techniques, as well as sprawling urban development, has been particularly distressing for me. On the one hand, I love farming and farmers. On the other, I realize that creating larger and larger open fields with less and less naturally wild habitat has had a terribly negative impact on wildlife. One of the sounds that was common when I was a boy was to hear the distinctive whistle of bob white quail. By the time I was a middle-aged adult, quail had become very rare in many places throughout the South. The demise of quail was largely attributed to the loss of suitable habitat.
As I began planning for my retirement, I decided that one of the things that I would spend my time doing was to create a small safe haven for wildlife. In 2016 Elaine and I bought eighty-five acres of land in Hardeman County, TN. It had about seventy acres of forest and fifteen acres of open fields. Knowing what I wanted to do with it, I sought advice from the local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. With their expert guidance we created a plan to manage these eighty-five acres for wildlife habitat. Fortunately, the biologist who looked at the property with me told me that the forest portion of the land was just fine as it was. But she suggested that we use two fields, on either side of a dry creek bed, to establish perennial vegetative cover which will help to control soil erosion and will provide natural habitat for insects, birds, and other small animals.
We planted those fields in a mixture of ten different native grasses. In each of the fields, we created a quarter acre thicket by planting 320 chickasaw plum, hazelnut, and silky dogwood trees. These trees were switches about 12 to 18 inches tall when we planted them in 2018. Of course, in a natural setting where we are not able to water them, not all of them survived. But the ones that did survive are around six to ten feet tall now. And to my surprise, they have been joined by a large number of sweet gum, birch, pine, and other native trees that grew on their own. I have added a few trees each year and plan to add a few oak trees this winter.
When I began working on this project, I decided that a marker for success would be if I could hear bob white quail whistle in the springtime. I am happy to report that I do occasionally hear them, and I occasionally see a covey of them. We know that our little place, which we call Dry Creek Farm, will have a negligible impact on planet Earth. But knowing that this one small space is not doing any harm - is not adding to the pollution of our soil and water - is providing a space where insects, birds, and all sorts of small critters can thrive – knowing all those things does an awesome amount of good for my soul. One of my neighbors and I will sometimes sit and visit – he on his four-wheeler and me on my tractor – in one of the fields or the woods. Before we part we both will comment that we are indeed blessed to be able to rest under the shade of a tree and to enjoy and to appreciate the natural beauty of God’s creation. Who could ask for anything more?
This month’s blog series will highlight PMG's green initiatives & partners, with a new blog each Friday! Come back next week to learn more about how PMG is creating a better environment for the future, starting today!