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Tree planting among the many things spring brings

The arrival of spring means many things – the melting of snow, the blooming of flowers, and the taxman, not necessarily in that order. While many of us view the dawn of spring as the real beginning of the year, for tree-planting groups it’s just a narrow window that needs to be their most productive time of year.

Saturday, Woolwich Township will see its first two major tree-planting initiatives: Trees for Woolwich is back with its annual church challenge, and the Elmira Kiwanis Club will have its semi-annual planting session.

Kiwanis member and Ward 1 councilor Allan Poffenroth proposed the tree-planting project to the Elmira club in 2010. “When I went out for walks, I thought that we should have more trees,” he said. “So I convinced the Kiwanis Club to take on the program, and since 2010 we’ve planted 25 to 30 trees every spring and every fall.”

He continued, “I think it’s nice to have a town that has a lot of trees, instead of a barren operation. It suddenly occurred to me out walking, ‘Oh, there could be a tree here, there could be a tree there, they cut this tree down and didn’t replace it…’ I thought I could do something about this.”

For the third year, the church challenge will bring members from Elmira’s various sects together for a little friendly competition at the railway tracks off of South Field Drive.

Which faith plants the most trees? “Last year, the largest contingent was from Trinity United, and they were pretty proud of that,” laughed Trees for Woolwich chair Inga Rinne. “But St. Teresa is doing if for the first time this year, and from what I hear, they’re pretty excited about this.”

She added, “Stewardship of the environment is one value all religions share, so it makes sense to come together for this.”

The event will also include a tree planting in honour of Larry Martin, an active volunteer with Trees for Woolwich who died last summer.

Woolwich’s relative dearth of tree coverage remains a pressing issue for the township. In the early 20th century, urban myths suggesting that trees soaked up water from crops led to farmers regularly cutting down their saplings: while the environmental ideal for tree coverage in the Grand River Watershed is 30 per cent of the land, that number fell to five per cent at its lowest point.

“As we all know, trees create a lot of good things for the environment. Along with creating shade and beauty, they give off lots of good stuff, don’t they?” says Poffenroth.

The Kiwanis Club of Elmira’s planting will take place on Mockingbird Drive from Oriole Parkway to Finch Place, 9-11 a.m. The club will also be holding several events throughout the year to raise money for its fall tree-planting session, beginning with its annual Lobsterfest on May 31. For more information, visit www.elmirakiwanisclub.com.

The Trees for Woolwich church challenge will take place 9 a.m. to noon. They’ll partner with more plantings on April 29-30 with the Woolwich Clean Waterways Group, and a seedling planting at the Elmira Tree Nursery on April 29. For more information, contact Ann Roberts at 519-669-6027 or aroberts@woolwich.ca.

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