Hi everybody again,
Thank you so much for your responses and ideas for our question on what to do with our 4-to-12 foot trees. What we hear people saying is that we could start an "Adopt a Tree" project, we could try having solstice trees that never come out of the ground, and to repurpose cut trees for all kinds of things--all fantastic ideas and thanks again! We are all sitting here brainstorming, and we are laughing about what we ourselves do each season, and how we wish there were some way to do the same thing with other families as part of a CSA offering...every year we thoroughly enjoy working with our trees, from planting new saplings around April (after the last upstate NY snow!) to observing them house the next generation of birds, to staking out the new saplings to make sure they do not get trampled, and carefully tamping down the goldenrod that smothers the young ones, to our massive shearing efforts in the early fall after the bird nesting has concluded (the kids call this "Marie Antoinette Days" for the selected few who have gotten 'ahead' of themselves :) ; and finally come winter solstice there are the decorations with bows and food ornaments, such as popcorn and peanut butter balls, apples and oranges, for an edible wildlife feast, all followed by setting up our own Christmas tree, which is...drumroll...an artificial 6-foot tree that we have been using every year since 1999! In other words, we refrain from even cutting down our own trees!
Here is an idea we are brainstorming: since we want to share this experience with other families without having to disturb the environment, we are thinking of providing a yearly CSA for families where they get to "adopt a tree" and get to know about their selected tree all year long, either in-person if they are close, or via the internet if otherwise. For those nearby, they could come to participate in the Winter Solstice tree decorating for the animals, as well as the shearing in the fall, etc. We could create a greenhouse with seedlings from our own trees, and the CSA family members could receive a sapling of their own to plant and become their family tree, which they now would have the correct knowledge to take care of, because of their educational experiences with the "older relatives" throughout the entire year!
And as for maintaining the 4-to-12 foot tree ecosystem, we are going to have to manage that area by culling some trees and planting some new ones, while using the timber and/or woodchips for projects.
Thank you so much again for your fantastic suggestions and helping us get our ideas together!
Chris and family