Free trees Keep Durham Beautiful

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 03:43 PM

Keeping Durham beautiful means more than just clean streets and revitalized buildings.

GiGi De La Torre and her 5-month old son Lucas went from relaxing on a blanket at the Food Truck Rodeo Sunday to learning how to plant and maintain a crabapple tree.

“My mom, she’s a gardener. She loves to plant anything,” De La Torre said. “She has a huge garden in her back yard.”

She talked to Kat Causey, a master gardener in the county, who was working with Keep Durham Beautiful and several partnerships to promote a greener Durham.

With her son in her arms, De La Torre said “right now, we don’t have time to plant anything so we call her and ask her to plant stuff for us.”

She was one of many who stopped by the KDB and Durham County Master Gardener volunteers’ table to get a free tree seedling to plant.

Keep Durham Beautiful Executive Director Tania Dautlick said the trees are given out each year in celebration of Arbor Day, a day designated for planting trees.

Dautlick and Tobin Freid, sustainability manager for Durham city and county, explained that trees help cool city spaces, and when planted strategically near homes or buildings can help reduce energy costs, filter air, improve water quality and stop soil from eroding into streams.

Dautlick said that the Food Truck Rodeo was a great way to reach a crowd of people and get out as many of the 1,200 trees on hand as possible.

“Durham is very supportive of Arbor Day,” she said. “Getting people engaged in planting trees helps them appreciate them and take care of them as they grow into maturity.”

Nine varieties were given out including crabapple, crepe myrtle, persimmon and river birch, along with instructions on how to take care of them.

Some master gardeners were on hand to show pictures of the various trees at maturity and answer any questions people had about growing trees and plants.

“Talking to people about gardening is fun,” Causey said. “Durham is a city that values the resources that we have. A lot of people are conscious of the environment and the impact they have on it.”

Causey said that because so many people living in Durham are from other places, she and her colleagues spend quite a bit of time explaining the difference in how trees and plants behave in one part of the country as opposed to another.

The tree giveaway was also part of the collaborative effort, Trees Across Durham, that is working to make the city healthier and greener by planting and protecting trees.

Freid said that the push for more trees is part of the city and county’s strategic plans to help educate people on the importance of trees and plant them throughout the area.

“This is great visibility for us and an opportunity to reach people we wouldn’t otherwise,” Freid said of the Food Truck Rodeo. “The sustainability office’s main concern is greenhouse gas emissions.

“Trees help remove the carbon dioxide form the atmosphere,” she said. “There’s a lot trees help with and it makes a prettier city and a healthy city.”

Keep Durham Beautiful has a tree planting scheduled at Rockwood Park on March 21 and will be part of 4th Annual Creek Week, educating the public on the importance of watersheds.

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