Better Farm this year is participating in the School Seedling Program, an initiative by New York's Department of Environmental Conservation to educate students about the care and conservation of trees.
Most of us recognize the beauty of trees and their many other values. Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and prevent erosion. They help protect streams and lakes by stabilizing soil and using nutrients that would otherwise wash into waterways. Trees help moderate temperature and muffle noise. They even help improve air quality by absorbing some airborne compounds that could be harmful to us, and by giving off oxygen.
When students plant tree seedlings, they can see for themselves the structure of trees, learn what trees need, and how they grow. Teachers can use the planting process to discuss the benefits trees provide, while incorporating other subjects that their classes are studying. As seedlings mature the young trees
can be a continuing, personalized way of relating to what they’ve learned from books to visible, living examples of what is being taught.
Students become aware that they can play a role in protecting the environment through personal involvement in establishing a grove of trees. Ultimately, it is hoped that the experience will help them make intelligent decisions about conservation and use of natural resources.
All schools are eligible to participate in the DEC's program, as are any school-sponsored organizations. Though Better Farm isn't officially a school, per say, it does qualify as an educational center and so 50 white spruces were shipped our way this week.
DEC’s Saratoga Tree Nursery provides the trees, which require 1,800 square feet of open space for the 50 seedlings. Each needs a growing space of about 6 feet in diameter. For schools where planting space is limited, an Urban Wildlife Packet is available. This contains 30 seedlings of shrubs that attract different songbirds, as well as a variety of other wildlife.
White Spruces are native, short-needled evergreens. They grows in clay and/or loamy soils and
reach 70 feet at maturity.
The seedlings we received are 2 or 3 years old and approximately 8”-16” tall. Though our interns won't arrive until next week, we had to get the young trees into the ground. The interns will tend to the trees and keep track of their progress.
For more information about this program, click here.