What kid doesn’t like dirt?
There were plenty of kids and plenty of dirt to dig, kick and throw for a good cause as nearly 150 people of all ages planted 250 trees along the Fallston section of the Ma & Pa Trail during Harford County’s 15th annual Arbor Day observance Friday morning.
The number of young people participating was especially gratifying to the event’s organizers that included Harford County Planning and Zoning and the Forest Conservancy District Board of Harford County, an advocacy group that promotes stewardship, conservation, and sustainable use of Maryland’s forest resources.
The trees they were about to plant will be enjoyed by generations, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said in his welcoming remarks, given during a brief rain shower, with most of the participants huddled under the pavilion next to Annie’s Playground.
“Hopefully, in 20 years, a new generation will enjoy the trees you plant today,” Glassman said.
By the time he had finished and awards were presented, including a 15th consecutive Tree City USA plaque from the National Arbor Day Foundation, the rain had stopped and everyone was ready to head down the trail where hundreds of holes had been pre-dug, awaiting the young saplings that would be planted in them.
Colored flags were placed by each hole corresponding to the variety of deciduous tree to be planted in them, black oaks or red maples, for instance.
In addition to the trees, piles of mulch were placed at intervals along the trail, along with stakes, ties and protector tubes.
Moe Davenport of the county Department of Planning and Zoning Department encouraged everyone to plant carefully, not to hurry.
“We have 250 trees and 125 people… so there are plenty of trees,” Davenport said, as he explained to the group how they should work.
Glassman then planted a ceremonial tree, a white fringetree, at the first bend in the trail, and the throng headed toward Winters Run, with groups of two, three or four, picking a hole and a tree and starting to work.
Many of the trees planted Friday were to fill in spaces left by trees that didn’t make it from an earlier planting during spring 2009, after the Annie’s Playground to Tollgate Road stretch of the trail was completed the previous summer.
Davenport said it was important to put protective tubes around the new trees’ trunks, and he demonstrated how to do it, so they would protected “from deer and weed wackers.”
Some of the younger planters liked the holes before the new trees went in, as was evident when three of them sat on the edges with their feet in the dirt, while an obligatory cell phone photo was taken.
“We’re planting our kids,” the woman taking the photo explained, as one of the little girls started to push dirt into the hole and over her boots – wait for the tree, she was told.
A short distance farther down the trail, Joyce Skalinski, one of the volunteer Ma & Pa Trail monitors, worked to spread the root ball on a black oak before filling in the planting hole.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve actually planted a tree,” said Skalinski, 77, who lives in Bel Air. “I’ve planted some flowers and shrubs, but never planted a tree.”
“Joyce’s Tree,” as she named it, was planted between a red maple and a sycamore that were among the trees planted in 2009. Skalinski said she will be watching it grow when she walks along the trail, and she admitted being taken by the entire experience of the trail and the tree planting activity.
“I love the trail and the people I meet on it,” she said. “This restores my faith in nature. It’s great for the kids and dogs. It’s very positive for Mother Earth.”