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500 trees planted in three hours at Mersea Park

An important environmental initiative marking Leamington’s 150th anniversary is taking shape at Mersea Park.

A collaborative effort between the Leamington Horticultural Society, the Leamington 150 Committee and the Municipality of Leamington has produced a newly-planted forest dedicated to Leamington’s 150 years.

Jo-Anne Smith, President of the Horticultural Society, led the planting of about 500 saplings in a rear corner plot of Mersea Park on Thursday, April 25.

With about 44 different species to work with, volunteers from the Horticultural Society, the community and UMEI Christian High School managed to  plant the trees in about three hours on the sunny, cool, morning.

For Smith, the planting was a milestone as the Horticultural Society celebrates its 75th anniversary alongside Leamington’s 150th, and she felt it was an opportunity for both celebrations to contribute to the environment together. A recent conversation with Mayor Hilda MacDonald got the ball rolling.

The Miyawaki forest method of planting trees requires them to be planted in close proximity to each other, as opposed to spacing them out.

“If you look in an actual native forest, trees are not all two metres apart, like in most reforestation projects. They are close together and the plants actually help each other, rather than compete for resources,” says Smith. “They do compete for sunlight eventually, so the trees grow taller faster. Look at sapling trees in a forest. They may only be two or three years old, but they can be two metres tall.”

Smith says it also means that they will have a mature forest in 20 years, rather than 100.

Thanks to an ERCA grant, about 400 bare-root saplings were acquired and another 100 or so potted saplings were also delivered to Mersea Park.

The influx of volunteers on Thursday morning was welcomed with open arms by Jo-Anne Smith, who prepped everyone on the proper method of planting.

She explained the proper depth of planting in order for the trees to have their best chance of survival. Any bare-root saplings were dipped in mycorrhizae, a fungus that helps them absorb nutrients. She instructed them  to plant three trees within one square metre.

An addition of about 20 students from UMEI Christian High School bolstered the numbers for the planting and helped the crew make quick work of the 500+ trees.

Municipal staff had spent the previous few days preparing the site with equipment and adding mulch to help with the planting. A temporary chicken-wire fence was also installed around the forest as a measure to keep deer and rabbits out until the saplings can take hold.

All volunteers were treated to snacks and refreshments by Dream BNB Hospitality.

In the future, a plaque will be installed dedicating the forest to Leamington’s history.

For Jo-Anne Smith and her horticultural folks, it was about all coming together for a common goal.

“It was a true celebration of co-operation,” she said. “Even the weather was great.”

This week’s
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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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