Chilgoza, the word means ’40 seeds’ and describes the number of large edible pine seeds in each cone.

IMG_0779Coveted on the Global market for its flavor and nutritional value, this Pine tree is facing a number of external pressures that may lead to its extinction. The species Pinus gerardiana is found in the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China, but the specific word Chilgoza is the beloved name for the Queen of the Himalayas that finds its home in Afghanistan.

Since 1979 Afghanistan has become the geographical center of a proxy war between Super Powers, an untenable position of destabilization, which is being taken advantage of by surrounding countries for the purposes of extracting any and all of Afghanistan’s deep ecological and mineral rich resources. 90% of Afghanistan has be deforested in 30 years.

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The majority of timber has been exported to Pakistan, now Saudi Arabia is also benefiting from lack of security


Chilgoza pine cone harvest

Ghor Forests Destroyed

Tree Poaching







We live across the ocean, on another continent, thousands of miles from Afghanistan, in the deserts of eastern Washington and have been lucky enough to meet an extraordinary woman who wishes to reforest NE Afghanistan and revitalize the traditional food systems.

Eight days ago we planted the first Chilgoza Pine on this property, grown from seeds that took us one year to source (viable enough for planting). The Chilgoza treeling is a symbol of what can happen when persons come together to make positive focused change.


The gift of learning and inclusion

It wasn’t long ago I sent a letter, not knowing how it would be received; after all Dr. Mariam Raqib, the director of Samsortya and the Afghan Tree Project, had no idea who I was, or the work we were engaged in –  way out here in the shrub steppes of eastern Washington.  Nor did she ever have the obligation to respond.

But she did.

As a direct result of that response, I have had the extraordinary privilege of working closely with Dr. Raqib to support her visionary goals of restoring the food systems and forests of  NE Afghanistan.  This journey of relationship has been nothing short of astonishing, as the layers of what is true and what is told to us by the media and PTB, have been peeled back to reveal an entirely different view of the truth.

Understandably; a partnership between Samsortya and Columbia Basin Permaculture may at first seem an odd fit. What could two people practicing  permaculture in Eastern Washington possibly have in common with a highly educated director of a nonprofit organization tasked with regenerating forests and food systems in Afghanistan, have?

It turns out; Everything.


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Eastern Washington










Both locations are within the Bsk/Bsh Koppen Geiger Climate classification, both locations have seen their share of degradation; either through war as in the case of Afghanistan, or in the absolutely unsustainable progress driven green revolution, as is the case for eastern Washington.  Both locations are now certainly sharing the fall out from unbridled linear progress for profit driven motives.

Not a healthy scenario for either side of the pond.


Permaculture is about positivism, and so is Samsortya  – even in the face of climate imposed challenges and horrific weekly updates – we remain in agreement that our number one goal is to stay positive and produce tangible results . To look fearlessly into the black maw of massively dysfunctional systems and truly understand the ramifications of what has been created, and then turn and take action to be inspired and inspire others to find innovative life affirming solutions is a place I wish to exist in for the rest of my life.

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In other words; take stock, don’t panic, and do the next logical thing; remove the use of poisons, start nurseries, make cuttings, mulch the soil, hold the water, direct the water, build the soil, grow the trees, start the shade, integrate the animals, increase the nutrients, share the surplus.

Stay calm, there is hope, there is always hope.

Trees, plants and animals always mirror back to us whether we’re getting this right or not, humans, not so much, so we avoid the noise. We don’t worry about labels, because permaculture and Traditional Indigenous Knowledge have many crossovers, both can benefit from one another by sharing information.

Forgive me if I express emotionalism in this post when I share that this week a Chilgoza Pine went into the ground, here in Eastern Washington, and is a symbol for what can be achieved by learning and inclusion. Up to now, we have often shared seeds and food stuffs back and forth across the ocean for the betterment of both sides towards regeneration of both places. We have exchanged vast amounts of information for the same purposes.


There are 50 more Chilgoza waiting in line to be planted and we have every reason to believe they will thrive, and produce seed, to be shared across the pond, to start nurseries where they count the most. We have learned as much as we have offered, the exchange has been equal.

Flowers & Wasi



Eastern Washington








Each group, acting in tandem under Dr. Raqib’s vision and separated by an ocean, on different continents may not ever meet one another or sit in each other’s homes, but we do know, we’re making a difference.

No one actually knows the exact direction all these complex centralized systems are headed or what their outcome will have in either country – for those who haven’t been paying attention – there are no absolutes, no matter how ‘Powerful’ one player may appear.

I do know that I have a new relationship with a magnificent tree that has decided to make its home here, a direct result from reaching out to an equally honorable person who does believe that all the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.

When we say (to paraphrase a quote) that most of the world’s problems can be solved in a garden, we mean it.

Thank you Mariam.