Plenty of work is involved in filling the orders, but it’s worth the effort. Each year the seedling sale allows the BCCD to award scholarships. Students apply at the beginning of the year. Applicants must be either a senior in high school or attending an institution of higher education and majoring in a career that is agriculture- or environment-oriented. Scholarship amounts vary. Last year’s scholarships ranged from $500 to $4,000.
A scholarship recipient may apply again if their cumulative average is 2.85 or better. Interested candidates may email Deborah Winkler at email@example.com to be added to the mailing list. Those on the list will receive a brochure featuring plants and prices. A reminder postcard is sent to alert them to the pickup date and times. Fruit trees are available, too, as are tree tubes to keep deer and rodents from damaging the plants. This year’s pre-order deadline is Feb. 23.
The plants must be picked up on April 17 at the Agricultural Center in Bern Township between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. The plant list is available now on the Berks County Conservation District website, www.berkscd.com. Click the Events tab and check out the 2015 plant list, prices, and the scholarship details.
Planting trees and plants is invigorating. A double dividend is paid to those who plant with a child, grandchild or any young one. Aldo Leopold, author, professor and pioneering ecologist, said it well in his timeless book, “A Sand County Almanac”:
“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humble folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one needs only a shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree, and there will be one.”
I hope this bolsters your resolve. Do a little planning, get a shovel and a bucket and a young human sprout that needs to see how seedlings become grand oaks and just do it. Whether you plant as a solitary experience or do it with others, the benefits are far-reaching.
Douglas Talamay, in his book “Bringing Nature Home,” documents how many species thrive because native trees and shrubs are planted where only lawn or invasive plants stood previously. The increase in native insect and bird life is dramatic.
There are good reasons to plant trees: They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and increase water absorption and biotic activity in the soil.
A visit to a tree planted a few years ago never fails to bring a smile and a sense of accomplishment few other things in life offer. I passed Erin’s maples,” “Jason’s oaks” and “Katie’s tree” the other day. It was a good feeling. This year’s seedling sale should give birth to “Emma’s pines” and “Finnegan’s sugar maples.”
A rousing game of cards, shared family movie time, or an interactive board or video game are all great family fun, but they pale when compared to the long-term enjoyment of a tree.
If you have any questions about the tree seedling sale or scholarships, please contact the Berks County Conservation District at 610-372-4657 for assistance.
Steve Miller is associate director of the Berks County Conservation District.