Planting a better Delran

Delran Green Team gives out tree seedlings to residents to aid local environment

“I speak for the trees.”

This may be the most well known line from Dr. Seuss’ environmentally-minded children’s book, “The Lorax,” spoken by the furry orange mustachioed guardian of the forest after whom the book is named.

And while Delran may not have fuzzy Truffula trees growing throughout the township, it does have a plethora of other species, largely in thanks to its own Lorax of sorts – Delran Green Team member Al Carp.

“Every time you turn around, you hear about a forest fire or a flood, and we lose hundreds of thousands of trees – and we need trees,” Carp said. “Everybody you talk to complains about climate change. The first thing I ask them is, ‘When’s the last time you planted a tree?’ And they say never. And I say, ‘Get out there and plant one.’”

Residents had a perfect opportunity to do just that on Saturday, April 6, when Carp and other Delran Green Team members passed out tree seedlings at Conrow Park. This is the second year the organization took part in the state Department of Environmental Protection Tree Recovery Program, and, much like last year, residents were lined up for their trees before the giveaway was even underway.

“I ordered 250 last year,” Carp said. “I set up a table, took a book, figured five to 10 people would show up and I’d hand out a few trees and I could finish reading my book.”

Before he knew it, 50 people were there. The turnout was so great, Carp ordered 625 trees this year. There were some left at the end of the day, and he hopes to pass those seedlings out at the township’s Arbor Day event at 1 p.m. on April 27 at Conrow Park, where the Delran Green Team will plant three new trees.

A resident of Delran for 28 years, Carp joined the Delran Green Team in 2015 after coming across the Sustainable Delran table at Delran Day. Intrigued by the group’s efforts to help the environment, Carp decided to join. And once the other members found out about Carp’s affinity for trees, he had his niche.

Carp helped the team come up with its forestry plan – which impressively was approved by the state on the first try – and is helping with a tree inventory for all of Delran’s parks. He said the township needs a greater diversity of trees.

“Some parks have two species. Some have three,” Carp said. “We worry about invasive insects and invasive diseases. If they come in and happen to wipe out that species, we’d be in big trouble. So we want to diversify our trees.”

The giveaway on April 6 featured a wide variety of seedlings, from flowering dogwoods to pines to black gums. The goal is for everyone to take different types of trees, plant them at home, and report back to the Delran Green Team in a year to let them know how the seedlings fared.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – or today,” Carp said, stressing it’s always a good time to help the environment. “And that’s what we’re doing.”

Learn more about the Delran Green Team at delrangreenteam.wordpress.com and on the group’s Facebook page by searching “Sustainable Delran.”