Thursday, October 6, 2022

Annual TreeFest expects high numbers for tree seedling giveaway

TreeFest committee member Karl Busick said he hopes the turnout will rival the nonprofit's first distributions after hurricanes Bertha and Fran.

An uprooted tree off Market Street in the Carolina Place neighborhood east of downtown Wilmington Friday morning during the calm between the inner bands of Hurricane Florence Friday morning. (Port City Daily photo | Mark Darrough)
An uprooted tree off Market Street in the Carolina Place neighborhood east of downtown Wilmington hours after Hurricane Florence struck the city. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — An annual distribution of tree seedlings called TreeFest will return to Wilmington inside Independence Mall at the JC Penney court.

TreeFest committee member Karl Busick said that after several years of tapered interest in the event, he expects a large turnout from people who lost trees during Hurricane Florence last September.

Those expectations led the local nonprofit, which began in 1997 after hurricanes Bertha and Fran destroyed many trees in the region, to purchase more seedlings than it has in recent years from the N.C. Forest Service Nursery in Goldsboro.

“We’ll be happy on Saturday afternoon when we close up if we don’t have any seedlings left,” Busick said.

The distribution will take place on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18 – 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until trees run out.

Available tree species will include bald cypress, chestnut oak, swamp chestnut oak, white oak, white ash, buttonbush, crape myrtle, longleaf pine, red maple, river birch, silky dogwood, persimmon, and pignut hickory. Grass species will also be available, including Indian grass and little bluestem.

The 1-year old tree seedlings are on average a foot tall, Busick said.

Each household is limited to a limit of 5 trees or grasses, or a combination of both, and $3 donations per household are requested to buy next year’s inventory.

Busick hopes for a showing similar to TreeFest’s first years distributing seedlings.

“It was a huge success back then because it was right after Hurricane Bertha and Hurricane Fran,” Busick said. “We had several thousand people show up for the first couple years. It was amazing.”

The TreeFest committee consists of retired foresters from Progress Energy, including Busick, members of local tree boards, and professors at University of North Carolina Wilmington. Busick said most will be present, along with college students in master gardener programs, to consult with people about what species may be best for their property.

“My recommendation is that you don’t look at how fast something grows, look at how long it grows,” Busick said.

A past TreeFest volunteer at prepares a tree seedling for pick-up. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy New Hanover County Parks and Gardens)
A past TreeFest volunteer at prepares a tree seedling for pick-up. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy New Hanover County Parks and Gardens)

Volunteers will wrap the seedlings in wet newspaper for people to transport to their homes, where the committee encourages planting within a week, noting that winter is an opportune planting season in the New Hanover County area.

Members and sponsors of the event include North Carolina Forest Service, Keep New Hanover Beautiful, New Hanover County Department of Parks and Gardens, New Hanover Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Wilmington, UNCW Department of Environmental Sciences, Wilmington Earth Day Alliance, and Independence Mall.

More information and useful tips can be found here.


 

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