Couple donates trees to honor area storytellers

"Stories should be told anywhere and everywhere, to anyone and everyone...” These are words that were spoken by Jennie George Curry who founded Storytellers of Las Cruces in 1927, a group that promotes, supports and encourages storytelling. Curry will be one of 12 Las Cruces area storytellers to be honored with a Cedar of Lebanon tree on NMSU’s campus. 

Randy ’77 and Cindy ’78 Farmer purchased the trees for NMSU to honor storytellers. The Farmers were inspired by the children’s book, “The Giving Tree,” which features a little boy who grows up and a tree who gives the boy every part of herself to make sure he had everything he needed. 

The first tree was planted at the original site of a “storytellers” tree located on College Drive by the nematology lab buildings and Heritage Farm.

“The original tree was planted here during Fabian Garcia’s time. He was a part of the first graduating class, and he was on the first football team,” Randy says. “The reason why that tree ended up dying more recently was because the water stopped going through the canal here.

“I would like to name one tree, the tree planted at the original site, in Jennie Curry’s honor and the second in Don Cotter’s honor. The rest of the trees I want to be named to honor other great storytellers of the area,” Randy says. 

In 1973, Curry published her book, “Tumbleweed Tales,” a collection of stories about the Southwest, Christmas, Mother Goose and other topics. Curry believed that storytelling was a “service to the community.”

Don Cotter, an NMSU professor emeritus of horticulture and plant science, spent 20 years at NMSU. He published his first photography book in early 2018 titled, “Fran’s Organ Mountains,” named after his wife. His second book, “The Cotter Family: An Adventure,” was released in March 2018 and tells the story of an American family through adventures, international travel and unique experiences. 

The Farmers are still deciding on the naming criteria for the other trees but do want the public’s help once a system is in place. The duo also wants to see plaques placed at all the trees. 

“These trees aren’t for us or even our grandkids,” he said. “They are for our grandkid’s grandkids.” 

Melissa Rutter ’17

Randy and Cindy Farmer purchased 12 Cedars of Lebanon trees for NMSU’s campus to honor area storytellers. The trees are planted at eight different locations including outside of the Skeen Hall.