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We Are In It Together & We will Overcome Together.

This deadly virus hit us hard and precipitately. Yet, its full reality seems to be unfolding ever so slowly in front of us. Our mind cannot fully absorb what is exactly happening to our life. Over just a matter of two weeks, which seems an eternity, we are forced to rearrange our life as we know it.

Yet, the basic approach to life hasn't changed. The fundamental truth about life is we are intricately connected with everyone else. Everything is related. A mature society is, thus, always willing to take care of its poorest and weakest members. There are always more advanced souls who would rise to protect others first. They are plainly visible if we care to look. They point us how we shall overcome this dark period together.

At Earth Sangha, we've changed a lot of our routine. Over some initial protests and then eventual regrets and understandings, our volunteers agreed to stay away from our Wild Plant Nursery for now. We miss them. We can't wait for the day when all of our beloved volunteers return to the nursery and the fields.

We are following the Governor's directives faithfully. No more than five staff at the nursery at any given time, but even then, Matt and Katherine are busy delivering plants to our customers' house, without person-to-person contacts. Invoices are sent electronically, and payments are received online. We are now delivering the plants on a daily basis, free of charge, for our Sangha members. We don't impose any minimum orders either. We want you to garden using our local ecotype native plants for our native pollinators while you are forced to stay at home for all these Spring months.

Daly and Georgina are working at our Chantilly greenhouse. They are safe there since they are not in touch with anybody else. With our hard-working two interns Katie and Jeff, I am endlessly repotting tree seedlings and young perennials. In between, I weed the most virulent weeds. These are our typical Spring activities anyway. It just feels a bit weird not having our usual cheery volunteers!

Our colleagues at Fairfax County Park Authority's Natural Resource Protection team tell us that their budgets will get drastically cut. As you know, we've been propagating several rare and threatened species of native plants for them (the latest are Salix occidentalis and Juncus torreyi), and we have teamed up with them to improve the wild flora in several select sites in Fairfax. Budget cuts are hardly an excuse for not to act, and we are looking forward to go ahead with the work in the fall.

It's true that we will face a difficult time financially. But we also know how to work on a very tight budget. We started our organization without any funding. Our approach has always been to work first and find ways to fund later. Working with soil, seeds, and some donated pots and with simple hand tools. Plus the willingness to work hard and cheerfully and with the right kind of visions. That is all the ingredients necessary to do some small but tangible work. It worked. We've weathered several major economic upheavals the U.S. has experienced. We shall weather this challenge as well.

We've wanted to contribute to the integrity of our region's ecological history, and thankfully we are doing it. Now, we have the full support of a large community whose members are creating connecting dots of local wild flora through their backyards. Maybe by the time your backyard native plant gardens in full bloom, this deadly virus would give up and gone.

Who knows. When it is finally over, we might come away with a better vision of the world and we all become wiser. Let's hope so. In the meantime, please stay at home and continue planting native plants and stay healthy!

Lisa Bright

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Banner: Late October in a mixed stand of hickories, oaks, and American beech at Fountainhead Regional Park, on the northern shore of the Occoquan River, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo by Chris Bright. 

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