The Township of Woolwich Environmental Enhancement Committee (TWEEC) will be looking to double the footprint of the Elmira tree nursery with an expansion project planned for this summer. The nursery supplies the local environmental committee with the young saplings which are then planted across the township by the organization and groups of volunteers.
The upgrade to the facility will allow the group to grow larger, hardier trees at the nursery, ensuring they have a better chance of survival once they’re found a new home.
“We are about to launch into an expansion of the nursery,” said John Mathers, nursery project coordinator and member of TWEEC and Trees for Woolwich. “We decided as a group that we want to grow our trees a little bit taller than we have in the past.”
Currently, trees at the nursery are kept until they reach a height of about three to four feet, says Mathers.
“We plant most of our trees in conservation type areas or areas that are not tended by people, so the weeds can be up to four or five feet high. So when you put in a two to three foot plant, it’s quickly dwarfed by all the weeds,” he explained.
“We want to grow them to whip size, which is five or six feet high. And so that means we need to keep them for up to five years or so, so we need more space.”
The project will see the environmental group draw on the support of volunteers and students for the work, which is expected to begin on June 17, and take approximately two weeks.
“We’re looking at basically doubling the footprint of the nursery, and so we have a project to level out the land that’s right beside the existing nursery,” said Mathers. “We’re going to put down four inches of gravel and landscape fabric, a new shade structure. And then we’re going to be setting up all of our new seedlings under that.”
The nursery expansion will ultimately help towards the township’s overarching goal of raising the tree cover in the municipality. Volunteers in the community are leading the effort, but the township to is getting involved to increase the greenery in Woolwich.
Township council adopted a greening plan for the 2019 budget year, replete with a one-time 0.5 per cent property tax increase to fund the plan. A total of $53,000 is budgeted in 2019 for the plan, which includes replanting trees along boulevards in Elmira and St. Jacobs hit by an emerald ash borer infestation.
The tree nursery carries a number of native species including several varieties of oak, maple, spruce, pine, cedar and sumac. Besides providing for the township-wide tree plantings, which are organized throughout the spring and summer, the nursery is also a compelling teaching tool for area school children.
“It’s just an opportunity to teach kids about environmental stewardship and the importance that trees play in the environment,” said Mathers. “So we involve the elementary schools at that level growing the seedlings. We have high school students that come out and help with transplanting so it’s a certainly a large aspect of our program, the value of giving people an opportunity to make a difference in the environment of our township.”