Planting Trees from Coast to Coast

What a great tree-planting season we had in 2010!  University students from coast to coast came outside to help us get new trees in the ground and make a difference right on their own campuses. 

Events were held in the fall at Creighton, Bowling Green, Georgia Tech, Furman, University of California-Irvine, and Florida International.  See pictures of these exciting events at

Plant on.

Thanks for a great tree-planting season!  Only a few more months until the Spring planting events begin! 

Arbor Day 2011 - The Countdown Has Begun

I know the school year has only just begun but it’s never to early to start planning for Arbor Day 2011!  This year, the green holiday will take place on April 29, 2011 only a mere 6 1/2 months away. 

What can you do to celebrate the holiday?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Join a “Green Community” in college.  If your campus doesn’t already have one, create one!  You can work together on tree-planting projects to earn service hours and make a sustainable difference on your campus or in the community.
  2. Work with an elementary school in the area to teach young children about the benefits of trees and then lead them in outdoor tree-planting activities.
  3. Encourage your local college campus to apply for Tree Campus USA distinction.  You can trust recognized Tree Campus USA colleges to plant and care for their campus trees in the best way possible and help get students involved in environmental stewardship. That means more trees for future generations!

Keep up your great efforts and check back here for more ideas on how to celebrate Arbor Day 2011.

Plant on.

Trees and Their Impact on the Environment

Trees, trees, trees.  You probably (hopefully!) get to see at least a few of them each day.  We have learned since grade school about their positive impact on the environment, but did you know that they can really make a HUGE difference for the planet?! 

Environmental issues are in the news daily and it reminded me of some stats I ran across a while back that I thought I’d share with you.

  • In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8,700 miles. (That’s like driving from Los Angeles to New York City three times.) —International Society of Arboriculture
  • One tree provides enough oxygen for up to four people a day. —Tree Canada Foundation
  • In the Chicago area, city trees filter an estimated 6,000 tons of air pollutants each year, providing cleansing valued at $9.2 million. (Can your local yogis to that for you?) —U.S. Forest Service
  • Visual exposure to settings with trees produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes. (Sounds like the place to go right before a big speech.) —Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University
  • The oldest living tree is a bristle-cone pine that is estimated to be 4,600 years old. —The Forest Museum

So there you have it.  Multiple reasons to get outside and start planting trees!  Make an impact on the environement and do it today.  Plant a tree.

Plant on.

Free Trees For Your College Campus

If you’ve seen the “National Tree Planting Campaign” video on the arbordaynow homepage, you might be thinking, “Holy cow!  I just saw a ton of trees, shovels, college students, cheering, laughing, food, etc…and it all looked really fun, but what the heck really happens at a Tree Campus USA Tree-Planting event?!” 

Here’s the skinny:

  1. College campuses receive up to 100 trees for their students to plant (as a service-learning project) on the campus grounds or in the surrounding community. 
  2. Music is blaring in the background, as students, campus faculty and staff, community volunteers, and sometimes even the college president, get together ahead of time for little instruction on how the whole planting thing is done. 
  3.  After that, everyone breaks up into groups of 4 or 5 and heads out to start planting their tree(s)!
  4. There’s a lot of free food, t-shirts, hats, and plenty of Mother Nature to go around!
  5. Oh, and if the campus qualifies, there’s even a cool recognition ceremony by Arbor Day Foundation representatives designating the school as a Tree Campus USA college or university!

There’s a lot to look forward to when you apply for an event.  Best part, though, is knowing you made a difference. 

So spread the word about the events and sign your campus up today! 

Plant on.

The past 2 years of Tree Campus USA Tree-Planting Events have been so much fun. Here’s just a few of the pictures to share.  Thanks for the memories and making a difference on your campuses.  Now it’s time to apply for a 2010/2011 event!  Applications opened today.

A Gingko What?!

The first question anyone asks you when you tell them you work for the Arbor Day Foundation is, “So what’s your favorite tree?”  Hmm…my favorite tree?  Just one?! Really? 

To put this in perspective this is like asking a girl what her single favorite pair of shoes is at DSW or a guy to pick out his one and only most useful tool in ACE Hardware.  (Yes I know, I just totally gender-stereotyped, but bear with me.) I mean, really, can you actually pick just one tree?! After months of getting this question, though, I decided to please the crowds and pick one.

So what’s my favorite tree you ask?  Drum roll please……….Gingko Biloba!—or most commonly referred to as the “Gingko” or “Maidenhair” tree.  Aside from the obvious traits that I love about all trees—they absorb carbon dioxide, prevent erosion, and provide me a shady place to run—the Gingko tree has some pretty unique characteristics. 

1.       This tree is old, old, old!  There are fossils of Gingko leaves that date back to prehistoric times—over 270 million years ago.  Dinosaurs probably found shady relief under these grand trees.

2.       The leaf structure is unique among seed plants and actually fan-shaped.  Not many others trees can claim this fact.  During the fall these trees turn an amazing shade of yellow and drop all their leaves generally in 1-2 days, making it a perfect street tree because it’s easy for grounds crews to clean up.

3.      The female trees produce a rancid smelling fruit containing a fleshy outer coating that when touched can cause a reaction similar to coming in contact with poison ivy. (Not the best trait, but still unique!)

4.       Finally, the Gingko leaves and seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years and are thought to improve blood circulation and enhance memory.  The insides of the seeds are also considered a delicacy in Chinese and Japanese cooking!

So there you have it.  That’s my favorite tree.  Take a look at these photos and go outside and search for one in your community. 

Long live the Gingko Biloba tree—and by the track record is has, I think it will have a pretty long life. 

Plant on.

Special thanks to Marylise Doctrinal, Molly Des Jardin, and Derrick Sobodash for use of their pictures.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Indiana U—Bloomington Wins “Dig In a Make a Difference Challenge”

Congrats to Indiana University in Bloomington for having the most student volunteers come out and plant trees during their Tree Campus USA event on National Arbor Day (April 30).  With 75 students participating, IU is the 2010 winner of the “Dig In and Make a Difference” volunteer challenge and will receive $2,500 in trees for their winnings. 

Way to go Hoosiers!  Your campus just got a little greener!

Stay tuned for more chances to win trees for a college campus or community near you. 

Plant on.

How DO those trees get planted?

Remember back when you were in grade school—did you ever get a little tree-seedling to plant at your house on Arbor Day?  Ever wonder how they came about?  Adam Howard, Manager of Nursery Operations at Arbor Day Farm, will enlighten you in the next few paragraphs!

All plants grown at Arbor Day Farm’s greenhouses are propagated from seed. During the month of May, we will sow over 250,000 seeds - Colorado Blue Spruce, White Pine, Norway Spruce, and Bald Cypress. Here’s how we get growing at Arbor Day Farm:

Step 1: Preparing the Growing Trays. At Arbor Day Farm’s tree growing facilities, healthy, thriving trees start with well-prepared growing trays. Each tray is approximately 23” x 14” and has 160 cavities, and sterilizing them greatly reduces the bacteria and fungus that can hinder growth.

Step 2: The Importance of Peat. Each sterilized cavity in the tray is filled with peat moss, a soil-less substance, that allows the perfect mix of water-holding capabilities for the seed as well as proper drainage. This perfect blend allows just enough air in the cavity to establish the roots to develop and breathe.

Step 3: Precision Planting. I’ve been in the tree business for 11 years, and I still find it fascinating to watch this planter in action. The planter features a set of small nozzles that are pre-set to the exact width of our growing trays. Using suction much like that of your home vacuum cleaner, each nozzle picks up a single seed and then uses a fast puff of air to place the seed in each growing cavity. Shown in this photo: the planter’s tiny nozzles grab a white pine seed, dyed red to make them easier to see. Image below: white pine seed at one month after germination.

Step 4: Just Add Water. Bring on the moisture and nutrients! Unlike natural earthen soil, the peat (see Step 2) has no nutritional value for the seed. So we compensate for that by injecting just the right amount of a feed blend through the greenhouse water lines. The seedlings take in the nutrients they need, compartmentalize and use each element as necessary, and they release or leach the built up salts and underutilized nutrients with the next watering.  

By early fall, these germinated seeds will produce over 200,000 tree seedlings - seedlings that are used in the Arbor Day Foundation’s Gift Tree program, as well as the seedling you’ll receive on your next visit to Arbor Day Farm.

I invite you to stop in and get a first-hand look at the tree growing operations at Arbor Day Farm during this special time of year, and watch our mission literally come to life.

Plant on. 

Adam Howard is the Manager of Nursery Operations at Arbor Day Farm and a Certified Forester with the Society of American Foresters. He has been in the forest industry for 11 years and contributes regularly to the Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm Blog.