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Mary Beth's GreenFriends Satsang

(Excerpts from Mary Beth’s satsang, delivered July 21, 2023 at Amritapuri, India)

Sapling propagation event
Sapling propagation event

I first met Amma in the United States, in 2018. A friend told me about her visit and I was curious to meet her. My first hug resonated deeply in my being. I stayed and watched her hug people for hours that night.

When I arrived at the event, I visited the different booths. I wasn’t sure which one I was most interested in. At the end was a beautiful display of fruit trees advertising GreenFriends. I love gardening but immediately thought... no, I’ve already done a lot of that kind of work where I live. I want to learn something new. So I continued to the other booths instead.

It was almost time for the program to start. So I started to head to my seat. Then, something strange happened. As I was passing the GreenFriends table, I found my feet walking me right over. It’s like I had no control.

Chetana, the group's organizer, came up to me and started telling me about the 5,000 fruit tree initiative. Amma had asked the Southern California Satsangs to grow and plant 5,000 fruit trees throughout our region. This area covers about 57,000 square miles or 146,000 square kilometers. So much space for baby trees!I had found my seva (selfless service)! Luckily, my feet and Amma knew where I belonged.

Amma says, "Nature is a huge flower garden. The animals, birds, trees, plants and people are the garden’s fully blossomed flowers of diverse colors. The beauty of this garden is complete only when all of these exist as a unity, thereby spreading the vibrations of love and oneness. Let us work together to prevent these diverse flowers from withering away so that the garden may remain eternally beautiful."

A few weeks later, Chetana came to my home to discuss how the team worked. Amma had asked devotees to create home tree nurseries. Devotees were propagating trees together, and then caring for them at their individual home nurseries. Once the trees were grown, they were adopted out. Most of the trees found homes when Amma came to Los Angeles.

Amma says, "Forests play the most important role in the preservation of harmony in nature. Every country should strive to protect its remaining forests and to plant as many trees as possible. Every single one of us should make a promise to plant a tree a month so every person plants 12 trees a year."


Each winter, our group gathers to propagate fig, loquat, pomegranate, avocado, mango, banana, mulberry, moringa, and curry trees.

I was a bit nervous when baby trees were left with me the first time. However, with the team's support, they were soon sprouting roots and leaves.

The trees after they have started to sprout leaves and roots
The trees after they have started to sprout leaves and roots

Each of us also looks for other adoption opportunities in our neighborhoods. There is a nonprofit in my neighborhood called Uncommon Good. They support new immigrant families with living wages through jobs in farming, education, and healthcare. I reached out to their lead organizer Nancy Mintee.

Through our conversation she asked for more details about GreenFriends and was delighted to have her organization adopt almost 100 trees.

Baby trees ready for transport
Baby trees ready for transport

GreenFriends planted a Bodhi tree (also known as 'sacred fig' or 'tree of awakening', this is the same type of tree the Buddha is said to have become enlightened under) in Nancy's front yard. The seed from the tree was gathered at Amritapuri. A devotee lovingly grew it. Swamiji came and did a Satsang and dedication. We planted the tree together. The tree is still a baby, but it is doing well. It has a plaque commemorating Amma’s visit.

When COVID hit, we had over 300 trees in our nurseries. With Amma staying in India, there were no US programs and we had to find other ways to connect with adoption families.

We reached out to Nancy Mintie at Uncommon Good once again to see if their organization could use more trees. They had many new families and were very excited to receive more. They were also going to be planting a fruit orchard at a local high school. We provided the trees for this school orchard. It is thriving!

Another effective way to find homes for the trees ended up being through social media. Our community has a group called Buy Nothing. The group uses a social media platform to gift and ask for items. The idea is to share, shop less, and create community. We put out a tree adoption advertisement. Through this, we were able to find homes for over 150 trees.

When trees are adopted out, we provide planting instructions and fertilizer. We also provide aftercare instruction if families are struggling with their trees in any way. Often, families will send us photos of their trees thriving in their gardens.

Amma says, "Each Family should grow trees and plants in their yard. Planting a tree is a selfless service to society. Just as we enjoy the presence of trees planted by people in the past, we too should plant for the future generations. If we haven’t done any selfless acts, we should plant a tree or sapling, that would be a truly selfless deed, benefiting others and ourselves."

Swami Dayamritananda Puri blesses the Tree of Awakening
Swami Dayamritananda Puri blesses the Tree of Awakening

Not long ago, we had a giant storm in my neighborhood. The winds were so strong that it wasn’t safe to go outside. I kept hearing crashing noises. This included a giant crash in my backyard. I looked out and saw that the entire fence next to the tree nursery had blown down onto the baby trees. My heart sank. I went out but it was scary. I couldn’t tell if my simple makeshift greenhouses had protected them. The fence had several concrete posts and was way too heavy for me to lift up to see.

That night, over 300 giant trees fell in our neighborhood, including a giant oak in my backyard. In the morning it finally subsided. It looked like a tornado had come through. The first thing I checked was the baby trees. Not even one was hurt even though they were underneath a giant heap of broken fence. Amma protects her babies!

Growing trees has been such a joy for me. In the past, I had only grown vegetable gardens. I was surprised how easy they are to grow from cuttings. Growing from seeds takes a little bit more work in the first few months, but then gets easy. They are such a delight to watch.

I have learned so much from sprouting baby trees. They have taught me patience, dedication, kindness, and a commitment to community. I reflect on the beauty of these trees feeding future generations with their fruit and clean air. It makes me grateful to those who have planted the trees from which I eat and breathe. I know how much care went into sprouting the babies into being.

Amma, I am so grateful to you for marching my feet over to the Green Friends table. That night, I received both my mantra and a community. You have held a space for my roots to grow into being a more loving and compassionate person. I am in awe at the beauty of you and your children.

Mary Beth - Los Angeles, CA

Read a devotee's personal experience at the New England Nature and Yoga Day Workshop in the Q3 2023 newsletter >>


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