Worcester Tree Initiative Partners with Pakachoag Church for Giveaway Event

Auburn residents are in for a tree-t.  The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) is offering a free tree giveaway October 6th at Pakachoag Church.  All you need to do is register, decide what kind of tree or trees you would like, and attend a half hour training session at Pakachoag Church.

Beetle Battle

So, why would anyone be giving away free trees?  Since Auburn was included in the ALB regulated zone in May 2011, the town has been eligible for certain replanting programs, though no beetles have been detected in Auburn.  

Boundaries showing the areas of Auburn included in the ALB regulated zone.

Boundaries showing the areas of Auburn included in the ALB regulated zone.

Most programs focus on organizations and public spaces like schools, parks and tree belts.  For instance, the United States Department of Agriculture and MA Department of Conservation and Recreation planted approximately 30 trees at the Pappas Recreation Complex under ALB reforestation programs. 

The WTI was established in 2009 in response to the massive loss of trees related to the Asian Longhorn Beetle outbreak and the December 2008 ice storm.  As a private non-profit organization, the WTI in some ways enjoys greater flexibility in its efforts than do government agencies. WTI trees are given to organizations and towns, but also to individuals.  

Former Worcester mayor and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray along with Congressman Jim McGovern founded the WTI with personal funds.  They recruited additional private donors and set about replacing the some 28,000 trees that have been removed from Worcester since the ALB infestation was discovered in 2008.

A First in Auburn

Since its founding, the WTI has planted over 30,000 trees in Worcester, Holden, West Boylston and Shrewsbury.  This will be WTI’s first giveaway and planting event in Auburn.  WTI is also discussing an educational program through Auburn High School later in the fall.

“Parts of Auburn are in the ALB regulated zone, including here on Pakachoag Hill” said Ruth Seward, WTI’s Program Coordinator.  “We have done many giveaways and plantings in Worcester and other affected towns, but we haven’t made our way to Auburn until now.”

Pakachoag Church seems a natural place to start.  Pakachoag opened its doors for Auburn’s first ALB informational meeting back in May 2011.  At the time, Asian longhorn beetles had been found just across the Worcester border on Electric St.  Following the containment and eradication protocol, a 1.5 mile buffer zone was established around the infestation, drawing sections of Auburn into the ALB regulated zone.

 

Volunteers demonstrate proper tree planting while tree recipients look on.

Volunteers demonstrate proper tree planting while tree recipients look on.

Auburn residents who reside in the affected have been eligible to receive free ALB resistant trees through several USDA and MA DCR programs.  The WTI program is different in that any resident of an affected community can apply for and receive free trees. 

“There are a variety of trees.  We want diversity and beetle resistance” said trainer and tree expert Derek Lirange. All of the WTI trees are ALB resistant.

“The Worcester Tree Initiative gives trees to both individuals and organizations” said Seward.  “All recipients are trained about the proper places to plant their trees, as well as how to maintain the tree.”

In fact, every recipient must attend a short training session on the day of the giveaway event.  The training is about half and hour, and they are run every 45 minutes or so. “The giveaway [October giveaway at Pakachoag Church] will have three trainings – at about noon, 12:45 and 1:15”   explained Derek Lirange, one of the WTI trainers and tree specialists.

The training is hands-on; people will watch or even help to plant a tree.  Again, Pakachoag Church seemed perfect. “The setting is ideal” said Seward. “There is space for the training – planting the trees – and plenty of room in the parking lot for setup.  We’re very excited about working in Auburn.”

Rev. Dennis Knight agreed. “We certainly have the space.  It’s another way to connect to the community” said Knight. WTI trainers will plant at least three trees at the church as part of the training demonstration, one for each training session.

How to Reserve Trees

You can reserve up to 5 trees online. When you arrive at Pakachoag Church on October 6, you will check in, attend the training session, then leave with your trees.

“You’ll need a pickup or a minivan or a trailer.  These aren’t small trees.” said Seward.

If you want more than 5 trees – yes, you can get more – or if you don’t have access to a computer, you’ll need to call Seward directly at (508) 852-6400.  “We just have to make sure the trees are being planted where they are supposed to be planted” said Seward.   “We haven’t had a lot of problems, but there have been some.  We just need to make sure.”

Tree Reservation Form

Reservations should be submitted by September 29 in order to have the trees delivered and prepped in time for the October 6th giveaway.  Seward adds that there are some extra trees available on event day.  But in order to get the types of trees you want you’re better off submitting your request.

The giveaway will take place October 6 from 12pm-2pm at Pakachoag Church, 203 Pakachoag St.,  Auburn.

Trees awaiting pickup at a giveaway event

Trees awaiting pickup at a giveaway event