This article originally appeared in the May/June 1971 issue of Pioneer Magazine
FRIGHTENING AND somewhat alarming are the doleful lamentations of the ecologists regarding the capability of the earth to provide for an expected over-population. More thought-provoking than ever before, nevertheless the fear of an inadequate supply of air, water and food has always haunted some people somewhere, since time immemorial.
When people have feared the earth was about to faze out as the ultimate provider, it has managed to recoup its almost limitless forces to take care of an expanding population. It would seem that an all-wise Creator will not permit his beautiful earth to fail—that he does not create failures and will care for those he sends to dwell upon this earth as long as they take care of it.
The sturdy, trusting Mormon pioneers, when they came to the dry and barren Valley of the Great Salt Lake, were sadly disappointed when they first glimpsed their “Promised Valley.” What they heard about it later only added to their disappointment; it was quite unproductive; had frost every month of the year; rainfall was practically nil and the winters were all but unendurable. Jim Bridger, the renowned trapper and explorer had offered Brigham Young $1,000 for the first ear of corn he could grow here, had he not?
Behind this band of exiles, scattered from Winter Quarter’s to the British Isles, moving toward this undesignated place, were more than 40,000 people, leaving or preparing to follow the wagon trail westward. Six months later there were 3,000 people in the valley and more pouring in every week. Try to imagine the scope of the responsibility carried by Pres. Young and his associates to provide for these thousands. How could this desert land feed so many hungry people?
In the spring of 1848 the pioneers planted about 5,000 acres, mostly wheat. Suppose the crickets that terrible day had destroyed the crop completely! That wheat was the only hope for the people in the valley and the thousands wending their way westward.
Because they were faithful and obedient, the pioneers were fed and sheltered. Their faith in their leader and his insistence that this desert was destined “to blossom as the rose,” superseded their fear of hunger and destitution. They were persuaded that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” and will always be sufficient for those whom he has placed thereon, as long as they will keep it clean and prove obedient to the Omnipotent Creator who provided it.