Sherry and Geoff discussed this idea of ‘pioneering plants’ with us while they were in Perth and today Sherry described it on their blog. She writes about permaculture and a book she has been reading on the subject, then goes on:
“i came across a particular recommendation in the book that interested me greatly. i think it serves as a useful, earthy anology to the apostolic work of the people of god. in a section on succession planting, the manual defines a type of plant called “pioneer species.” these plants are “selected shrubs, which can live in degraded soil, improve soil nutrients, and protect seedling trees, and are planted initially”
apparently, as other species are planted after these first inhabitants the stability of the ecosystem is strengthened. so the ability of an ecosystem to survive is based to a significant degree on the first type of species planted, a pioneering species. these initial species must be able to weather the compromised conditions of “degraded soil” in order to make the surrounding area more inhabitable for future plants.
I wonder if some of us in missionary ventures can learn from this analogy. Maybe a key quality of the pioneer is the ability to survive in difficult soil and to enable it to be more fertile for those who come after…