NEW HANOVER COUNTY – The 26th annual TreeFest will be held Friday, January 19 and Saturday, January 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or while supplies last, at Independence Mall inside the JC Penney corridor.
Households may choose up to five free trees or grasses from the available selection (a $5 donation per household is suggested). All trees and grasses are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species include longleaf pine, water tupelo, red maple, river birch, flowering dogwood, silky dogwood, sugarberry, yellow poplar, pignut hickory, eastern redbud, mulberry, crabapple, and swamp chestnut oak. Indian grass, little bluestem grass, wiregrass, and big bluestem will also be available. Please note that tree species are subject to availability. Trees are bare root and should be planted as soon as possible.
"Planting a tree today leaves a legacy for your children, grandchildren, and your grandchildren's children," says Cindy Fischer, a founding member of the TreeFest Committee. “Trees offer a variety of benefits to our community, including flood protection and improved water and air quality, provide shade and oxygen, and offer food and nesting sites for birds and wildlife. It’s important that we continue to improve our local canopy with a variety of trees that support our entire ecosystem.”
More than 5,000 individual plants will be available during the giveaway, with an equal amount distributed each day. To serve as many in our community as possible, patrons are asked to limit household allotments to five plants. This year, to reduce single-use plastics, the TreeFest committee is asking visitors to bring their own non-leaking bag or bucket to take home their bare root seedlings.
Experts will be available at TreeFest to help with plant selection and provide information for their care. Before selecting trees, residents are encouraged to consider the size of the site, whether utility lines exist above and below ground, proximity to buildings, and site conditions like soil type, drainage, and sun exposure.
TreeFest began in 1997 after hurricanes Bertha and Fran decimated tree populations in the area. Since its inception, TreeFest has given away over 100,000 tree seedlings to area residents. The NC Forest Service Nursery in Goldsboro, NC grew the plants for this event.
A voluntary planning committee and many sponsors, including the City of Wilmington, Friends of Wilmington Skateparks, Independence Mall, NC Cooperative Extension, NC Forest Service, New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation District, and UNCW’s Departments of Environmental Sciences and Biology & Marine Biology, make TreeFest possible with the generous donations from its patrons and event day volunteers.