The public is invited to celebrate Earth Day during the 20th annual Tree Seedling Giveaway at the 2nd Street Market, 600 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton. Visitors can stop by the Market on Friday, April 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday, April 21, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to select from a variety of trees while supplies last. Trees are offered free to the public thanks to Miami and Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation Districts and 2nd Street Market.
“Working with community partners that are dedicated to conservation, such as Rush Creek Gardens and the Miami and Montgomery County Soil & Water Conservation Districts, make this event a huge success,” said 2nd Street Market manager Jimmy Harless. “The 2nd Street Market is a MetroParks facility, and as such we like to celebrate conservation and sustainability with events like the Tree Seedling Giveaway.”
A conservation agency, Five Rivers MetroParks protects nearly 16,112 acres of land—90 percent of which is maintained in its natural state. Protecting these natural resources also creates a healthy community. Too much ozone, small particles and carbon can create air quality issues, and trees help remove some of these harmful elements from the air, in addition to filtering water and providing habitats for local wildlife.
During the average year, the natural habitats on land that MetroParks manages filter and help clean an estimated 11 billion gallons of water. Forests on MetroParks’ protected natural areas remove about 14 million pounds of carbon dioxide and more than 157,000 pounds of ozone.
“MetroParks’ conservation efforts are substantial and create clean, safe parks for those of all ages to enjoy,” Harless said.
An anchor for the revitalization of downtown Dayton, the 2nd Street Market connects the community with local growers and provides fresh, local food, which is often healthier and less taxing on the environment. Many programs are also held at the Market throughout the year, from cultural celebrations to educational programs that celebrate MetroParks’ conservation mission.
“Five Rivers MetroParks provides the perfect opportunity to educate the public about conservation with face-to-face interactions,” said Kristie Fisher of Rush Creek Gardens. “They help give a voice to local conservation efforts, the importance of local food, and how important it is to the local economy and environment.”
Inspired by her mother, the idea for the Tree Seedling Giveaway was conceived by Fisher. Fisher’s mother, Carolyn Kimes, enthusiastically planted trees on their 40 acre property—about 4,000 to be exact. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Fisher decided to continue planting trees and provided the community with the tools to do so as well. Kimes joined Fisher and her family during annual Tree Seedling Giveaway events until her passing in July of 2008.
The Earth Day celebration started with 300 saplings donated by the Miami County Soil and Water District and has since grown into a family-friendly event with a focus on the importance of reforestation. Currently, 300 to 1,500 trees are given away during the Tree Seedling Giveaway, thanks to generous donations from the Miami and Montgomery County Soil and Water Districts and Five Rivers MetroParks.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of this event and Fisher expects to celebrate over 25,000 trees given to families during this time. With a goal to make sure that families understand how important trees are to the landscape, Fisher takes time to educate people on how to help their saplings thrive.
“We always say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now,” Fisher said.
Fisher and organizers at the 2nd Street Market ask that those in the community who have planted saplings that were picked up during past Tree Seedling Giveaways to participate in a photo project that will be presented at the anniversary event. People have the opportunity to submit pictures of their trees to the Tree Seedling Giveaways Facebook event page. These pictures will be collected and displayed during the event.
This year, a variety shade trees, evergreens, bushes and flowering trees will be available on a first come first served basis until supplies lasts. In addition to picking up a tree, visitors can visit information booths hosted by the Miami County Soil and Water Conservation District and Pheasants Forever.