A Family Affair
A farmer shares his experience of working with World Tree
When we first met Will Johnson, he greeted us at his farm in Florida surrounded by his family. We were thrilled when he chose to be come a World Tree farmer and a few months later we interviewed him to find out about his World Tree experience. This is what he had to say.
Why did you choose to participate in the program?
We chose to participate with the World Tree program for several reasons. First of all, we chose to embark on this exciting endeveor for the future financial gains. The Empress Splendor will ultimately have an instrumental impact on our surrounding environment as well. Family participation is also a key aspect of the process, this experiment has and will continue to allow our family to enjoy quality time together in the process of growing and maintaining this wonderful specimen.
What concerns or considerations did you have?
We had many concerns to begin with. Our concerns included: are the trees invasive, how well the trees would grow on our land, the amount of work involved, farmer support from World Tree, and future tree harvest responsibilities.
Tell us about the trees … how have they grown and performed thus far?
The Empress Splendor trees supplied by World Tree are nothing short of amazing! A lot of our trees have grown over seven feet in just four months. Not only are the trees aesthetically pleasing, they are extremely hardy. In our first planting we achieved a 98% survivability rate, which is much higher then we anticipated.
What is it like working with World Tree?
Since day one, World Tree has gone above and beyond what we expected. The CEO of World Tree, Wendy Burton and Head of Farmer Support, Nick Gobbett, came to our farm, sat down with our entire family and went through the whole tree growing process with us. They answered all of our questions and concerns, brought literature and actual samples of Empress Splendor lumber. Since planting, we’ve had several questions and concerns. Nick has always responded in a timely manner and given us the information and knowledge to solve whatever issue arose. Simply put, we’ve never experienced the kindness, pleasantness, knowledge, and professional support with working with any other company as we have with World Tree.
What would you say to other farmers about the program?
Do your own research, gather the facts, and figure out what it will take for you to be a successful Empress Splendor tree grower. To us, this is a wonderful opportunity. World Tree supplies the trees and farmer support at no cost. You’re main responsibilities are the planting, fertilizing, and overall care of the trees. There is risk in everything we do. With this program the financial risk is minimal and the potential gain is great. We extensively researched World Tree as a company and Empress Splendor as a tree, and ended up with only one question, Why Not?
What are your thoughts/opinions on the environmental impact of the trees?
Empress Splendor trees have huge leaves that absorbs eleven times the carbon than any other tree. With all the negative effects our infrastructure has on our environment, it’s wonderful to know that we are doing our part to help improve it.
What would you say to people who are worried that the tree is invasive?
This is a big concern with most everyone who is considering the planting of Empress Splendor (Paulownia). Simply put, There are many varieties of the Paulownia tree, with only one, the Paulownia Tomentosa variety being invasive. World Tree does not produce this variety. They produce their own timber genotypes from tissue culture using varieties such as Paulownia Fortuneii to ensure the trees are sterile.
Learn more about our trees and farmers
Featured Farmers for April: The Johnson Family With Adam McClary, Farmer Outreach Team Our featured farmers of the month are Will and Amanda Johnson. They live in North Florida on a 4th-generation family farm with their three children. Thanks for meeting with me today...
World Tree have been growing Empress trees in Costa Rica since 2016. Growing a business takes grit, ambition, creativity and sometimes a bit of luck. Meeting Mariana Alfaro was one of those pieces of luck that have made the Eco-Tree program possible. We...
Interview with Adam McClary, Farmer Support Johnny Walker is one of our youngest farmers and was also one of our founding members within the Eco Tree program. He grew up in rural Alabama and has been around forestry and logging his whole life. Besides attending...
New Report Confirms the Many Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of the Eco-Tree Program The Social and Environmental Impacts of the World Tree Eco-Tree Program report, prepared for World Tree by NatureBank, has provided us with a fabulous overview of the many...