Tuesday, April 22, 2014
APRIL 22 MIAMI TO BE COVERED IN ORCHIDS AGAIN
We here at the DUNER BLOG pride ourselves on delivering uplifting, feel-good stories to our readers. This week, we head to South Florida for such an item. Last week, ambitious botanists announced their incredible Million Orchid Project. Their goal is to reforest Dade County with native orchids. See...a long time ago...when American homesteaders first began settling in Miami 150 years ago, South Florida was an orchid paradise. Back then, the shores of Biscayne Bay were covered in forests of oak and mahogany trees. Orchid vines and trestles blanketed every branch, making the area awash in in bright colors.
Things changed dramatically on April 15, 1896. That's when the Florida East Coast Railroad officially opened service to Miami. Hungry entrepreneurs flocked from the Eastern Seaboard cities to Florida. The simplest of get-rich-quick schemes involved harvesting wild orchids from the trees. Once potted, they were quickly transported to florists in New York, Philly and Boston for sale. Unfortunately...much like the gold in California...within a mere twenty years, all the natural resources had depleted. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a wild orchid growing in Dade County.
You're asking yourself: Isn't this a lot of work? How can a handful of gardeners repopulate all of Dade County with a million native orchids? Glad you asked! In fact, this is the brilliant part of the Fairfield Plan: As you know, Miami has lots of unemployed, inner-city youths. Even the smallest of stipends is welcome. Working in conjunction with public schools, a large nature corps has been formed. The kids man every part of the operation, from the tiny seeds in the lab to climbing the limbs of trees to attach vines.