The Oak Lawn – Hometown School District 123 and Village of Oak Lawn tree nursery program completed phase I planting of 24 native variety trees including bur oak, Kentucky coffeetree, butternut, chinkapin oak, catalpa, American linden and yes, even a few pecan trees. Everyone had a lot of fun at the nursery located on the northwest corner of the Oak Lawn – Hometown Middle School (OLHMS) facility at 99th and 54th Avenue. Many community organizations participated on June 30th and July 9th including the Village Green Team, Lion’s club, Oak Lawn Park District, Covington Girl’s Jr. Green Team and in particular, the Trinity Lutheran Boy Scout Troop #618 /Cub Scout Pack #3618 and St. Gerald Boy Scout Troop #619 and Cub Scout Pack #3619.
Matt Basile, Oak Lawn Village forester, provided a brief educational presentation. The hands-on planting was a lot of fun (many holes were prepared in advance with village equipment) and provided a truly unique community partnering activity. The comfortable pace of the event allowed for socialization accompanied by the satisfaction of having completed an important phase of the project. Up to 100 trees will eventually find an interim home at the facility.
Over the last few years, the emerald ash borer infestation devastated over 2000 trees in Oak Lawn. The tree nursery concept was born from the necessity of the challenges of maintaining urban reforestation efforts with the added strain of a massive loss of trees.
The tree nursery is an exciting partnering concept that addresses two of the most significant challenges of urban reforestation efforts:
- Limited available funding
- Lack of general knowledge and hands-on labor to complete plantings
It is estimated that the cost to replace the trees lost to the emerald ash borer infestation alone would exceed $600,000. The nursery allows for distributing reforestation resources more effectively by purchasing younger trees at a fraction of the cost of more mature trees and growing/harvesting locally for replanting in future years. In fact, young viable saplings are often available at no cost. The nursery also provides a focal point for additional community support of reforestation efforts.
Each of the initial planting sessions included an educational presentation; however, the hands-on participation is what best develops interest and sense of accomplishment. This is a strategic approach that increases both overall tree knowledge and the pool of volunteer families willing to assist in village tree planting efforts to help offset labor costs. It is a continuation of the program that started at Kolmar, Sward, Covington and Hometown elementary schools this past school year.
Overall the nursery increases awareness of local conservation efforts and hopefully increases the prospects of green movements in the local schools, organizations and businesses. It represents a unique civic accomplishment and a proud example of combining our collective strengths and resources to accomplish more together in the Oak Lawn – Hometown Community.
The next major phase of tree planting will be coordinated with the D123 Go Green 5K Run / 3K Walk on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Everyone is welcome! Any community groups or businesses interested in participating in the tree nursery or related events can contact Larry Fetchko @ email@example.com or Matt Basile @ firstname.lastname@example.org.