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Please Note:
This is the archived version of the Friends of the Trees Society website. The new website is at
As of Dec. 12, 2015, these pages will no longer be updated.

About Friends of the Trees Society
About Michael 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.
- Memberships   - Workshops
- Tree sales   - Travelers Earth Repair Network
- Publications   - Farming
- Permaculture   - Wildcrafted Botanicals
- Gatherings   - Donate

A Brief History of Friends of the Trees Society

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 tree-lovers worldwide.

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 friends
and there is a soft warm loving place in my heart for you.
I would like to send my love to all of you.
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 office!

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 activities.

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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.

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Tree Sales

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.

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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.

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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 Islands.

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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.

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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.

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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 purchasing TERN?

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.

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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.

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Friends of the Trees Wildcrafted Botanicals

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 well.

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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,

Michael Pilarski

- Friends of the Trees Society -
Helping people around the world
plant trees and heal the planet
since 1978.