How it all began!

How my phantom planting journey began.

Around 9-10 years ago the idea just came into my head that why dont we have fruit trees growing around housing estates so people can all have good fresh fruit to eat on their doorsteps and not all this chemical sprayed nonsense thats shipped all over the world that in reality is probably doing us more harm than good.

When I was younger me and my mates would have always ventured up too the more upper class areas just outside my estate to look for apple trees in rich peoples gardens, it was always quite exciting doing this and theres something so connecting about climbing a tree and grabbing a nice big juicy apple and eating it while standing high up the tree then filling your bags with apples and bringing them back down home for my mum to make apple tarts with and using them to dunk for apples on Halloween.

These are becoming lost memories for this generation, but not anymore though, the phantom planters are going to bring this all back by filling our streets and estates with fruit trees so everyone can pick free fresh natural organic fruit on their doorsteps!

So - all them years ago I decided to buy 2 apple trees and plant them on the green space out the front of my family home in our housing estate, I had no idea what I was doing, I'd never planted a tree in my life before but what did I have to loose, just make sure you plant it the right way up is all I knew!

I bought 2 apples trees and my dads old mate give me a hand planting them, the ground was all clay and this part always waterlogged too when raining but I just went ahead anyway.

I planted mine and and my dads mate planted his, lots of people came running out from neighboring houses asking what I was doing and I said we are planting apple trees, many were like, can they even grow here?

I said of course they can, how do you think they can grow up there in the fancy houses gardens, this wee patch in our estate is no different to some rich dudes garden.

Then others were saying this is an amazing idea, why aren't apple trees everywhere!

My first reaction was so positive for me, especially in the hood where I grew up.

When we planted the 2 apple trees I called mine Jimmy and I said to my dads mate what are you going to call yours, he looked at me as if I was mad and never named his tree.

About a year after planting my dads mates tree died and Jimmy battled on, the ground was always like a swamp and at times I was always worried Jimmy wasn't going to make it.

But 9-10 years later Jimmy is still alive in the hood and I go back down and see him often, my dad passed away a couple of years after planting Jimmy and our family home was given up and I never went back down for years then one day I went down and couldn't believe that Jimmy was still growing away nice and healthy and I could see someone in the street was looking after him, as he was staked and fresh soil added around the base and the grass was cut around it also, this was one of the happiest moments in my life to be honest when I seen my first ever tree planted still growing away!

I do believe its because I named him Jimmy!

Just after planting Jimmy me and my mate Dodgy D bought another apple tree and planted it down near his house in another part of Belfast, there was a small council green space that we found and thought that'll do, we never really thought about asking permission, I mean why would you need to ask permission to plant an apple tree!

I brought my son and Dodgy D brought his kids too for the planting, in the first year of planting we got loads of really good tasty apples and we couldn't believe it, apples that dont taste like the shop ones, these ones were amazing, way better than the shops!

This tree really took off like a rocket, it was growing non stop so healthy and vibrant, every year I brought my son back to eat apples from it, he was about 12 or so but I brought him back year after year and one year we collected and counted nearly 500 apples, I was like thinking, they say money doesnt grow on trees? Well its growing on trees right here, 500 organic apples could cost you a couple of hundred quid!

This apple tree did something magical to me, back then when me and Dodgy D planted this I had just went through bankruptcy, lost my wee mum, my family broke up and lots of dodgy people where after me, I was riddled with cocaine and alcohol addiction and a list of other drugs I was hooked on also, I really was at the lowest place in my life, I had nothing to my name.

Being in this position forced me to take even more chances in life than ever before to make money, I was caught up with the worst people the world has to offer and involved in some seriously dodgy stuff, stuff I never would have done before but I was at rock bottom.

But I kept driving past this tree as it was near the city centre and I was always doing lots of dodgy dealings near it, but I would have drove past it alot, one day I could be running from the police, next day chasing someone who owes me money, but I passed this tree alot in all sorts of crazy mental states, riddled with addiction, fear, worry, paranoia, hate, revenge, all the usual tormented states of mind from wanting to be ace in the rat race!

But every time I passed this tree it was communicating with me, it was talking to me some way, I used to stop at it in my car or van and sit and look at it just doing its thing, planted illegally by the side of the road, it was just growing away at peace, sometimes it had leaves, sometimes it had apples and in the winter it was bare, but it never looked stressed, it was just there still giving me apples every year for free.

I cant really explain in words the effect this tree had on me, but it made me think about life in a whole different way, while I was running around like a lunatic wanting and consuming, projecting all sorts of negative energies out into the world this tree was giving, offering and providing.

I could see how happy the tree was, it was alot happier than me, I wanted to be the tree, it was so f**king weird what I was feeling from this tree, I wanted the peace and contentment of this apple tree, I wanted to put my roots into the earth and just Be, to be humble like the tree and not keep wanting and chasing.

This tree is still there growing massive and its that big now I can climb it and Jimmy is still doing his thing too down in the Buddhahood.

Please see pics of both trees, photos taken summer past....

#phantomplanters #paramilitrees #phantomplanter #communityspirit 

Peace and love!

I challenge you to phantom plant a tree! Anywhere, anytime, any place.....

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