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How I Got Started With
Perhaps it was the Golden Guide on cacti that I used to flip through as a kid or the old piece of grey-brown, hole-studded Cholla wood that sat on my grandmother's shelf among her African violets. Whatever it was I have had a fascination with cacti for as long as I can remember. Growing up in central Minnesota greatly limited my exposure to actual cactus plants. Undaunted by this however, I kept my passion for cacti fueled one way or another and enjoy continued discovery in this specific botanical hobby.

Growing Cacti in Minnesota
cactus growing Here I am around 16 years old behind my cactus garden in Minnesota. (click picture to enlarge) Contrary to many people's beliefs there are several limited species of cacti that are hardy enough to survive below zero winter weather. Cacti that grow in these conditions release much of the moisture from within their cells and shrivel up in the fall. This keeps the cells from bursting when they freeze. In spring the plants take advantage of spring rains to soak up the moisture needed for growth. Here I was able to grow a few different varieties of Opuntias, a couple Escobarias, an Echinocereus, and a Pediocactus. Here is another picture of my Minnesota garden:
cactus garden
  (click to enlarge)

Growing Cacti in California
For twelve years I lived in Southern California, where I was free to grow any species of cacti I chose without fear of freezing. (see Places/My Garden) If I could have, I would have grown one of every species of cacti that exists. And although I had the climate to support any species, I did not have the 200 acres I grew up with at my disposal. In fact, I was limited to about 70 or 80 square feet. Thanks to modern technology, however, that did not mean the end. I found I could find new species of cacti and "collect" them with a digital camera and then "plant" them on my web site instead. That is not quite the same as growing actual plants, I admit, but I have no right to complain.

Back to Minnesota!
cacti growing After a dozen wonderful years in California, I am back in Minnesota now and when I moved, I took all my cacti with me. Due to a particularly wet and cold fall that I moved in the middle of, I lost around half of my plants. After the first long winter, I built a greenhouse in the spring and kept my plants in there from mid-spring to mid-fall. They all did exceptionally well and I look forward to more growing seasons ahead. While my greenhouse is a somewhat temporary structure now, I hope to build a more formidable one in the future.

Building went live on May 5, 2002. Once I had the basic architecture of built, the next step was to gather content. I started taking pictures of plants that grew wild around Southern California and those that I had growing in my back yard. I then visited local cactus nurseries and local botanical gardens that I knew had cactus collections. I've also visited the Desert Botanical Garden and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona and the Southern Arizona cactus-filled parks: Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus. I have been fortunate to explore cacti in Baja California and hope that some day I might visit mainland Mexico, then Central America, and ultimately the countries of South America. Admittedly, these are lofty goals for a man of my means and they won't be realized for years. Hence, will continue to be a work-in-progress long into the future. Last, but not least, there have been many other cacti enthusiasts who have joined with me to help provide images and other information to help "complete" the guide sooner.

Cactus Conservation is committed to the conservation of cactus species primarily through education. Be on the lookout for on-going articles, species notes, and forum discussions on this topic. Students looking for an environmentally conscious science project, please ask how can help you. (e-mail link above)

A Statement of Personal Convictions*
An astute observer will notice that this website is devoid of any references to origins. This is in contrast to the vast majority of science-related websites which unabashedly reference evolution or evolutionary beliefs as facts which need simply to be discovered. It is my personal belief that all matter including cacti was created by the God of the Bible and that the Genesis account of recent supernatural creation is the more believable explanation for the origin of all things. I do not believe the earth is billions of years old and therefore do not believe in a world created through evolution either. The creation/evolution views are mutually exclusive of each other by definition and cannot consequently be combined in an attempt to honor both sides of the issue.

Despite my personal convictions, I also recognize that because neither view can be scientifically proven it will continue to be an unresolved matter of debate. In addition because of the moral and philosophical implications of the subject, it is often accompanied by strong emotions and few are without a staunch opinion one way or the other. I realize that today the majority of the scientific community presents Darwinian Evolution without consideration of its possible errancy or that there are alternative explanations of origins. This situation does not in turn confirm the veracity of the view point, but simply reflects the popular opinion of a particular group in a specific point in time. Indeed, if popular opinion constituted proof, the Evolution Hypothesis would never have been posited within the Creation framework which preceded it.

With that said, I have decided not to address the topic of origins on beyond these three paragraphs. This does not mean I think the subject is not worth thoroughly exploring. In fact I would urge all to invest a considerable amount of time examining the evidence against the interpretations of both view points without bias. I also will openly discuss my beliefs with anyone who is inclined to bring it up. Meanwhile I will continue to develop in accordance with its Primary Objective.

-Daiv Freeman

*Note: This statement refers to my own beliefs and does not necessarily reflect the views of others who have contributed to the content of this site.
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