Planting Trees to Heal the Planet


There’s something magical about planting trees. One recent cold March day in Vermont, I stood in a warm greenhouse propagating black willow cuttings, feeling like it was the most important thing I could be doing for the world on a Friday afternoon.  Surrounded by thousands of cuttings soon to grow shoots of green leaves and deep roots that will one day line the shores of Vermont’s rivers and streams, I considered how our actions today will have an impact on the planet for decades and generations to come.

In these trees’ lifespans, which vary by species from 10 – 100 years, how many birds will live in their branches? How much carbon will they sequester? How many pollutants will they filter out of runoff water? How many people will walk through them, enjoying their quiet beauty?

This month, Intervale Conservation Nursery (ICN) staff, volunteers, and interns are propagating hardwood cuttings from red osier dogwood, silky dogwood, shrub willow, black willow, balsam poplar, and elderberry collected from native trees and shrubs throughout the state. In two hours, Linus (ICN staff) and I propagated over 400 black willow trees! As we worked, other staff were busy getting the greenhouse ready for a group of 16 volunteers who came the next day to propagate thousands more. By the end of the month, ICN will have “started” 22,000 trees and shrubs! From there, here’s how the trees make it to their final destination of protecting Vermont’s rivers and streams:

The ripple effect of one small act – planting a tree – gives me hope for the healing of our waterways, our communities, and our planet.

BlogChelsea Frisbee