Daniel Perez – World Tree Farmer Profile
Dan Perez and his wife Carrie purchased property in Stewart County, GA four years ago, near other land they have owned for many years. It is a special area for them, as Dan had come many times when growing up and hunted in the area often over the years.
Although the entire area is saturated by pine plantations, Dan and Carrie considered carefully what they wanted to plant on their new land, as they knew pine was slow to mature and would limit what else they could grow, plus they could see many pine plantations are turning brown due to the expanding pine beetle infestation.
They first found out about World Tree and the Empress tree from a small print ad in a local magazine. They thought it looked intriguing, did some research, and contacted a few other World Tree farmers. The turning point was meeting World Tree Farmer Success Team lead Elliott at their farm. They decided to take a chance on growing the Empress tree and have not looked back.
“We were familiar with pine, but our research of the Empress trees was hands down, I thought, a much better value and had a lot more benefits”, says Dan. They planted their first 10 acres (1100 trees) of Empress trees in May, and some are now an incredible 15 feet tall. They are so happy with their trees, they are also considering planting more next year, and looking into raising honey bees along with trees that blossom in the spring.
The whole process of preparing the land and planting the saplings this spring also resulted in many other unexpected benefits for the family. Dan’s 90-year-old father, an immigrant from Cuba (moved to the United States in 1959 who has farmed his whole life, assisted all along the way. He never thought he’d see them grow tall in his lifetime, but is now completely amazed at how tall them have grown in just a few months. Dan and Carrie’s two sons, who were home from college, also helped out. In fact, the planting was a whole family affair!
Dan has been a practising attorney for 26 years, specializing in injury and criminal law. Being out on the land has been a great way for him to relax and forget about the stresses of his job. “It’s been very therapeutic for me, especially during these COVID times.”
They chose to plant 55 of the trees in an area close to their house and visible from road so that they could watch them grow and enjoy their beauty. Many people have been asking about the trees and marveling at their incredible fast growth, including a neighbor who manages thousands of acres of pine. Dan says he had never heard of the Empress tree, but also told warned Dan they were invasive, and that they would take over his property, etc. “I didn’t argue with him…but said I was going to plant anyways.”
The neighbor came over to Dan’s property a couple weeks ago, and he couldn’t believe the growth. Dan is hoping he can convince him to try and plant a few acres of Empress trees on a vacant area of his property so he can see for himself.
Dan and Carrie truly love being World Tree farmers. “It’s been pretty neat to be able to tell our family and friends that we are tree farmers now! I love to share pictures and boast about how fast they are growing”, says Carrie.
Dan believes there are many benefits to growing Empress trees beyond the potential financial rewards when the trees are harvested. “My goal is not only to have a great, beautiful tree farm, make tremendous environmental impact, but one that can be an example for future farmers. Yes, the potential income is nice, but more importantly, in today’s world, the environmental impact is much greater… I thought it was such a great story to be part of. We’re really excited about it.”
If you’d like to find out more about how you can become a World Tree farmer, please contact email@example.com.
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