Rotary helps public tree nursery take root
POTTSTOWN » The latest chapter in this story may end up behind Pottstown High School, but it started about a year ago in Australia.
Australia is where Ian H.S. Riseley is a member of his local Rotary Club — Sandringham, Victoria, Australia to be specific.
But last year, Risely was also the president-elect of Rotary International and, as is the club’s tradition, he set a global theme for the year.
It was an appropriately global goal.
The president-elect challenged every Rotary Club in the world to make a difference by planting a tree for each of its members.
Environmental degradation and global climate change “are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility,” Risely ” said last year at Rotary’s International Assembly in San Diego, according to a post in the club’s web site.
“Yet environmental issues rarely register on the Rotary agenda,” he said. “The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern,” he said.
Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which slows global climate change.
The shade trees provide also lower temperatures and thus electricity use, and energy bills.
They also increase the value of residential properties, studies have shown.
“It is my hope that the result of that effort will be far greater than the environmental benefit that those 1.2 million new trees will bring,” Riseley said. “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but to the planet itself.”
Mike Bright was the president of the Pottstown Rotary Club when that challenge was issued and he took it to heart.
The fact that 2018 is also the 100th anniversary of the Pottstown Rotary Club gave him a pretty good idea of how to meet that challenge, he said between digging tree pits July 14.
“We decided to plant 100 trees,” he said, although he acknowledged the club doesn’t have 100 members — “yet.”
“We were just going to plant
them around town, in parks and the like, and then Tom Hylton came to us and said ‘why didn’t we plant them in a sustainable way in a way that helps the town the most?’ and we agreed that was a great idea,” said Bright.
“Now, when Pottstown needs a tree, they can just come here, dig one up and plant it where it’s needed,” he said.
Rotary purchased the trees and Hylton obtained permission from the school board to use the plot of land behind the school along North Adams Street.
An irrigation system was installed by local plumber Aram Ecker.
Then came the day of planting and it was discovered that the dirt that had been dumped on the site to raise it up enough for the roots to be be healthy had settled a bit.
Shovels were not going to get the job done. Luckily, the brilliant idea of renting an auger was floated and soon enough, 100 tree pits had been dig into the loosened soil.
The new nursery will be home to:
• 20 pin oaks
• 20 red maples
• 15 Kwanson cherry trees
• 15 red oak
• 10 Valley Forge elms
• 20 London plane trees and
• 3 sunburst maple trees. Bright said he hopes that the high school’s Interact Club, sever members of which were on hand to help with the planting, can help with maintenance throughout the school year.
Rotary sponsors the Interact Club in the high school.
The day after the trees were planted, a powerful storm blew through the area and knocked over several of the newly planted trees.
But they were righted later July 15 and bamboo stakes are being used to ensure that does not happen again.
The partnership between the school district, the Rotary Club and community activists serves as another example of the advantages of collective action and teamwork, said John Armato, the district’s director of community relations and a Pottstown School Board member.
“Just another example of people coming together to make Pottstown a better place to live,” said Armato, adding, as he is often known to do. “One town, one team, one goal.”
From left, Peggy Whittaker, Spring-Ford High School sophomore Geoff Bright, Pottstown High School Senior Giankirk Kimmell, David Sutton, Pottstown High School senior Destiny Moyer and Hank Saylor all worked July 14 to plant 100 trees in a new nursery...