This is the archived version of the
Friends of the Trees Society website. The new website
As of Dec. 12,
2015, these pages will no longer be updated.
About Friends of the Trees Society
Pilarski, Founder and Director of
Friends of the Trees Society
MICHAEL “SKEETER” PILARSKI is a life-long student of plants and earth repair. His farming career started in 2nd grade and his organic farming career began in 1972 at age 25. Michael founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and took his first permaculture design course in 1982. Since 1988 he has taught 36 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing, hoeing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1000 species of plants. He is a prolific gathering organizer and likes group singing.
A Brief History of Friends of the Trees
Friends of the Trees Society (FTS) is a
small, grassroots non-profit which has
been operating continually since 1978. 27
years of service to the trees and to
Although there are now 12,000 names and
addresses in FTS's mail databases,
including about 3,000 from outside the
USA, only about 2,000 of you recieved FTS
mailings in 2001.
Many of you are personal
and there is a soft warm loving place in
my heart for you.
I would like to send my love to all of
Those of you I haven't met
as well as my dear friends.
I ask the trees to bless each of you
for all your efforts on behalf
of the Earth & all its inhabitants.
My apologies if you are one of the
people who hasn't heard from Friends of
the Trees Society in years. There were
many years when FTS' postage bill was
thousands of dollars per year. We sent
information and books out to the far
corners of the world and across the USA
and Canada. FTS correspondence and mail
flow has been voluminous over the years.
For much of its history, FTS has had a
staff level of one - namely me, Michael
Pilarski. There have been over 20 interns
over the years and hundreds of volunteers.
At times, FTS has had employees; at one
point we had five people working in the
Over its 27 years, FTS has accomplished
a lot for its small size. The only grant
that FTS ever received was for $1,000.
About 10% of FTS income in its early years
was from donations. Almost all of FTS's
income has been earned from selling trees,
herbs, seeds, books, and our educational
For the first 15 years, FTS was a
membership organization and thousands of
people paid memberships. For years we sent
out semi-regular newsletters to our
members. We have not promoted paid
memberships for the past decade, freeing
us from producing a regular newsletter and
reducing the amount of mailings we felt
obligated to send. Results, not a large
organization has been our aim.
From 1978 to 1990, FTS held annual
traveling tree sales with one free tree
for each child. All told, FTS sold or gave
away 170,000 trees and shrubs. In our
biggest year we held tree sales in 24
different northwestern towns. After a
10-year hiatus, FTS is again holding tree
sales! Check our Events
page for upcoming sales.
FTS has produced a steady stream of
books, directories and newsletters over
the past 27 years. Not exactly New York
Best Sellers, but they have all been about
healing the Earth and tens of thousands of
people have read them. Our biggest
printing was 8,000 copies of the
International Green Front Report, 1988
(192 pages). Our thickest is the 592-page
Restoration Forestry: An International
Guide to Sustainable Forestry Practices
1994 (3,000 copies). One of our most
recent is the Subtropical & Tropical
Medicinal Plant Checklist, 2001. Please
see our publication
price list for current prices and
information on ordering.
Michael Pilarski is a permaculture
educator and networker working at local,
regional, national and international
levels. As of 2002, Michael has attended
21 full permaculture design courses since
1982 - as lead instructor for most of
them. He has taught in the USA, Canada,
Nepal, Belize, Australia and the Hawaiian
FTS has sponsored and organized many
large gatherings and conferences over the
years. Still ongoing are the Port Townsend
Tree Festival (since 1990), Fairhaven
Bellingham Tree Sale (since 1990),
Northwest Herbal Faire (since 1996),
Montana Herb Gathering (since 1998), and
most lately the Fairy & Human
Relations Congress (since 2001). Plus
there have been many one-time events.
Check our Events
page for upcoming events and gatherings.
FTS has sponsored and organized a steady
series of workshops over the years. 300 to
500 people have attended FTS's workshops
each year for 25 years. Untold thousands
of people have attended our events and
gatherings. Check our Events page for
upcoming workshops and gatherings.
Travelers Earth Repair Network
In 1990, FTS started the Travelers Earth
Repair Network (TERN). TERN was an
international WWOOF-type program
specializing in Asia, Africa and South and
Central America, as well as the USA. TERN
linked travelers with individuals and
organizations in countries around the
world involved with sustainable forestry,
sustainable agriculture, permaculture,
restoration and environmental issues.
TERN grew gradually and steadily for the
first 6 years and our TERN database built
up to 4,000 addresses from 100 countries.
Over the years we have had 400 farms,
communities and organizations sign up to
become TERN Hosts offering living
arrangements and hands-on involvement, 300
of them overseas.
Over the past decade we have sent TERN
lists to over 500 travelers. TERN reached
its height in the mid-90s and has been
tapering off since, because my energies
are being spent more in the field and less
in the office. I have just decided to
suspend TERN's services until someone
volunteers to put time and money into
doing a round of verification and updating
of the hosts and listings in the database.
Anyone interested in volunteering, or
In the meantime, the program I most
recommend for the USA is the website www.organicvolunteers.com.
They have about 300 hosts, most in the USA
but some in other countries. Check it out
if you are interested in being an organic
volunteer or a host.
I farmed almost every year in the 1970s
and gardened in the '80s. After some years
of not having my hands in the soil I am
farming again. 2005 marks my 7th year at
Sunny Pine Farm in the Twisp River Valley
in the North Cascades. Sunny Pine Farm
currently has 25 acres in vegetables,
herbs and alfalfa. I mainly work with the
medicinal herbs. We had 120 medicinal
species growing in 2001 and the farming
made up almost half of my workload.
Friends of the Trees Wildcrafted
Wildcrafting is currently one of FTS's
main income sources. With nearly a decade
commercially wildcrafting medicinal
plants, we now offer 151 botanicals from
134 plant species including 50 Northwest
natives. FTS director, Michal Pilarski
does most of the wildcrafting and
processing. Our botanicals are wildcrafted
across northern Washington State and are
sustainably wildcrafted to maintain
healthy plant populations.
There are several reasons for this foray
into the field of medicinal plant
harvesting: 1) The sustainability and
ethics of wild harvesting needs to be
explored and elucidated by hands-on
experience. Eventually, articles written
from the experiences will contribute to a
book on sustainable wildcrafting. 2) The
herb collecting provides needed income. 3)
I prefer to live part of my life in the
forests and meadows surrounded by plants.
This, briefest of histories, will
hopefully give you a better idea of what
Friends of the Trees and Michael Pilarski
have been up to over the years. It is also
a more current update for those of you who
haven't heard from me lately.
FTS has mainly focused on science and
practical, hands-on, earth-healing work,
but more recently we have begun doing more
work with the spiritual side of trees as
Please consider sending Friends of the
Trees a financial donation to help us in
our work. Prayers and good thoughts are
gratefully appreciated, as are in-kind
donations and services.
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of
the trees and the planet.
May the trees bless you,
- Friends of the Trees
Helping people around the world
plant trees and heal the planet