Wednesday, November 29, 2023

5K-plus free trees to be given out at annual TreeFest

TreeFest takes place annually at the Independence Mall. (Courtesy New Hanover County Parks and Gardens)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — For 25 years, area governments and organizations come together to promote the replanting and growth of trees by offering free root balls and saplings to the community.

The annual TreeFest will be held Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., while supplies last. The event takes place at Independence Mall inside the JC Penney corridor.

The goal is to increase the tree canopy across Wilmington, which has been affected by storm damage and development. The festival began after hurricanes Bertha and Fran decimated area forestry.

“Trees offer many benefits to our community, from flood protection and improving water and air quality, to providing shade and oxygen, along with food and nesting sites for birds and wildlife,” New Hanover County Arboretum and NC Cooperative Extension director Lloyd Singleton said in a press release.

To date, the event has given away over 100,000 trees.

Each household can choose up to five free trees or grasses from more than 5,000 individual plants on display; the amount given away will be split evenly each day. They’re available on a first-come, first-serve basis ($5 donation per household is suggested).

Trees are bare root and should be planted as soon as possible. Species include longleaf pine, red cedar, river birch, silky dogwood, sugarberry, red hickory, eastern redbud, crabapple, chestnut oak, live oak, and wiregrass.

Indian grass, little bluestem grass and big bluestem are available.

The event is made possible by a voluntary planning committee and sponsors, including New Hanover County Arboretum and NC Cooperative Extension, New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation District, the City of Wilmington, Friends of Wilmington Skateparks, Independence Mall, NC Forest Service, and UNCW’s Departments of Environmental Sciences and Biology & Marine Biology.

Volunteers from the sponsored associations, as well as experts will be able to provide information on plant care. It’s advised that participants assess areas they wish to plant the trees, away from nearby utility lines and proximity to buildings. It’s also important to consider soil type, drainage and sun exposure.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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