Tree Planting at Southeast Regional Retreat: Fruitand, FL
For the first time since the Covid outbreak in 2020, the SSSIO-USA Southeast Region came together in person to enjoy a much-needed retreat at the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center in Fruitland Park, FL. The theme of the retreat was Ever Present Sai; an auspicious number of 108 members attended.
This location was selected not only for its natural beauty, open spaces for children’s activities, and quietude for reflection, but because permission had been granted to plant a few trees to meet SSSIO’s mission of planting One Million (OM) Trees all over the world.
Three lemon trees and three fig trees were purchased at Home Depot by two SSSIO members, a master gardener and the Envirocare Coordinator. They conducted several Zoom workshops prior to educate on proper ways of planting and maintaining the saplings to ensure they survive and thrive.
Another two trees - a magnolia and a palm tree - were donated by members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Orlando, FL. But when the trees were taken out of the pots, it was discovered there was a “bonus” tree included. So, a total of nine (an auspicious number) trees were planted.
These trees were placed in the area that was already being serviced by a lawn sprinkler system. The groundskeeper of the camp has volunteered to tend to them with the rest of his plants. The lemon trees were placed near some orange trees so the citrus “family” could be together.
Around 30 people gathered for the tree planting ceremony, which included the blessing of the ground and trees prior to planting, and offering of prayers and Gayatri Mantra to give the proper reverence for this reforestation effort.
A certified Tree Master, Vasuki, demonstrated how to plant trees, and gave helpful instructions and tips to ensure our efforts wouldn’t be wasted, and the saplings would survive.
Members strolled the grounds afterwards, meditating and enjoying nature; they were full of eager enthusiasm to plant trees in their own communities. Members were encouraged to hug a tree or sit in silent meditation beneath a tree while being present in this beautiful natural setting to see if they received any insights. There are plans to carry out more tree planting service throughout the region in the coming years.
Note: The Sri Sathya Sai International Organization USA has partnered with Arbor Day Foundation in our quest to plant one million trees by Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 100th Birthday in 2025. You can order trees at a discount by visiting: www.shop.arborday.org/nursery, using the Code SATHYA10. You can also help with a wide-scale reforestation effort where every dollar equals one tree! With your pledge, trees will be planted in Georgia: http://www.pledge.to/SSSIO