Saturday, September 13, 2008

Johnny Appleseed

As I'm working towards creating my vision of fruit and nut trees all around town offering an abundance of year-round food, I stumbled upon this great page with history on Johnny Appleseed that I never knew!

Side note: This link came from another blog who's author started it in 2004 preparing for a hard peak oil crash. His history reads as an amazing story! He bought land in a remote area and visited it in his off time to develop it, but has since realized there is too much work for one man and would prefer living in a small community (100ish) or live in a city - much like what I have realized over the past year, but I'd rather live in a small town than a big city. Or at least any city that has an established "green belt" where food can be grown in close proximity to where it is consumed.

Here's some inspiring quotes from the appleseed page, much of which is from Michael Pollan's 2001 book "The Botany of Desire". Turns out apples were used primarily to make hard cider which is very easy to make. It wasn't until after prohibition that apples were marketed as healthy and to be eaten as themselves.

"He was constantly on the move and had no fixed residence for his entire adult life. "

"He was of medium height, sinewy and large-boned, with dark hair down to his shoulders and bright blue eyes. He wore a coffee sack with holes for his arms and legs."

"His lifestyle and preferences were completely opposite the norms of frontier life. He was a vegetarian. He preferred to sleep outdoors and avoided towns and settlements. He thought it cruel to ride a horse, chop down a tree, or kill a rattlesnake."

"He was friendly with the Indians, bringing them medicinal plants. In turn, they treated him kindly and helped him on his way. "

"When he stayed with a family, he preached news "right fresh from Heaven," often the Sermon on the Mount, but many times adding his own ideas based on the writings of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) [Who taught that we must learn how to treat eachother with charity aka unconditional love]. Chapman saw himself as planting not only seeds but the word of God.

Swedenborg's doctrine is appreciative of humane values. Everything on earth corresponds directly to something in the afterlife, so the natural world and the spiritual (or mystic) world are intimately interwoven. The key to righteous living is to do good without looking for recompense. To study and love nature promotes one's spiritual growth. An apple tree in bloom is both a natural process and a "living sermon from God." "

"The same landscape his countrymen treated as hostile and heathen, to be conquered, Chapman saw as beneficent. In his eyes, even the lowliest worm glowed with divine purpose."

"He enjoyed the company of Indians and children. Pollan says, "He moved easily between the societies of the settlers and the Native Americans, even when the two were at war. His ability to freely cross borders that other people believed to be fixed and unbreachable between the red world and the white, between wilderness and civilization, even between this world and the next was one of the hallmarks of his character and probably the thing that most confounded people about the man, both then and now.""

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