Cherry Hill residents can stop by the Barclay Farmstead on April 30 from 2 to 3 p.m. and pick up free tree seedlings in celebration of Arbor Day.
There will be 400 trees for planting available on a first-come, first-served basis. Any tree not taken on Saturday will be available for pickup the following day from noon to 4 p.m., during Barclay Farmstead tours.
The Arbor Day Foundation’s tree recovery program began in 2005, to help replant trees lost to Hurricane Katrina. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry began its tree program: 60,000 free tree seedlings go to residents and municipalities each year. Since the first giveaway, more than 330,000 trees have been distributed across New Jersey.
While it is unknown what kinds of trees will be distributed, they will be native to the state and l about 6 to 8 inches.
“(The seedlings) are going to look kind of small, but they’re small but mighty,” said Megan Brown, the township’s director of recreation. “They definitely can have a lasting impact.”
According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, trees provide a number of benefits to the community, including turning carbon dioxide into oxygen to offset carbon emissions. They also absorb and filter water, which helps keep the latter off roads and out of the water treatment system during heavy storms. Trees also provide natural habitats for wildlife and provide shade in the summer.
“I think maybe the biggest mistake people can make is not planting them right away,” Brown said. “The longer they’re left out of the ground, the more risk they have of not taking root.”
The seedlings will come with a QR code that will link to instructions on how to plant and take care of the seed. Common pitfalls in planting include not protecting the small tree from deer, dogs, the lawn mower or the like, since it can look like a twig sticking out of the ground. Yet the trees can grow to be as large as 30 feet over time.
In addition to seedlings, residents will also be able to pick up reusable bags ahead of the state’s May 4 ban on single-use bags.
“Our mission in the town and recreation is (to show) the value of trees to our community, to clean air, and to connect people with nature,” said Brown.
Residents can look for an updated tree ordinance in the coming weeks that will provide more stringent guidelines on protecting and replacing plantings in Cherry Hill. To learn more, visit https://www.chnj.gov/1355/Arbor-Day.