Current varieties of domesticated pears likely originated from wild pears that grew in the hills of western Asia.  Pre-historic humans consumed wild pears as evidenced by dried slices of wild pears found in cave dwellings in northern Europe.  Humans have cultivated pears for thousands of years.  The fruit was grown in China for over 3000 years and ancient Romans and Greeks grafted pears to create multiple varieties several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ.  Homer described pears as a “gift of the gods” in The Odyssey and Pliny wrote about stewing pears with honey in his Natural History.  Theophrastus of Eresos (370-286 BC) described Read More

Farms and Peanuts

My grandparents on my mother’s side, Mance and Bertha Warrick Dickens, grew peanuts in the warm chalky soils of their southeast Alabama farm.  Like many small farmers in the south, they likely switched to peanuts after the Mexican boll weevil entered Alabama in the early 1900s and devastated cotton crops. Archeologists suspect that peanuts may have originated in the valleys of Peru and Paraguay, and along with cotton and squash were some of the oldest cultivated crops in the Americas.  Apparently peanut shaped pottery and ancient jars decorated with peanuts dated to over 3,500 years ago were found in South America, evidence of the longevity Read More

A New Year

Well, 2014 is a wrap! And what a year it was, this our 25th Anniversary. It was a time to reflect on the countless people who have made Greenbelt into what it is today, while outlining a future for the next 25 years. When Greenbelt began so humbly in 1989 amid living rooms and kitchen conversations there was never a lack of vision. You might think that a group that knew so little about nonprofit administration, the technical legalese of Conservation Easements or the art of grantwriting might have let that stop them from establishing far-reaching goals and benchmarks. Not Greenbelt Land Trust. From the onset our Read More

Certain Events

There are certain events through time that have been transformative. Just to name a few … The Big Bang —  from a singular point the universe began expanding about 13.8 million years ago, give or take a few hundred million years and resulted in the creation of 500 billion galaxies each perhaps containing 500 billion stars! Big Splash –  the formation of the Moon after an apparent collision of the earth with a body the size of Mars about 4.5 million years ago and resulted in numerous biologically-rich eco-systems dependent on the ebb and flow of sea tides controlled by the Moon’s gravitational pull Big Extinction –  Like Read More

River Towns

I was born in Salzburg near the Salzach River at the edge of the northern Alps in Austria.  My two sisters, brother, mother and father shared rooms in the Hotel Bristol overlooking the river in downtown Salzburg when my father was stationed in the city with the American military in the early 1950s.  Salzburg is a river city and the birthplace of Amadeus Mozart.  Its old town is dominated by baroque architecture of such repute that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Salzburg means “Salt Castle” and it is a city that derived much of its wealth, power and history from its Read More