Free Trees for Earth Day - Delivery
Last month we had sign ups for kids to get a free tree to plant for Earth Day. This program was done at no cost to the library through the Neighborhood Forest program. The trees were delivered to the library so those who registered could pick them up.
This is a great program, and I love the concept. Kudos to Neighborhood Forest for doing such an amazing thing! It's quite an undertaking and a lot of work and coordination, and they had more sign ups this year than ever before.
But we probably won't do it again at our library next year. Here's why:
1. We had a total of 263 kids sign up! Which was great, except less than half actually came to pick them up. Since no contact information is included with the sign up list Neighborhood Forest shares with us, we have no way of contacting individual families who sign up. I understand this program is done first and foremost with schools in mind, and that wouldn't be an issue since a teacher would have that information for their students. But that's not the case for a public library. But, no worries. We can still try and unload 'em. So we offered free trees for anybody for all the extras. However, many otherwise interested parties were deterred because...
2. The trees sent to us were Hackberry trees. This is a fine tree that grows easily here. I've got nothin' against them. But nobody in our area is familiar with this tree. No employee or patron. Even when I called our Conservation District to try to give them our remaining load of trees they said "I'm not familiar with that tree. We'll have to do some research and get back to you." Now this is no fault of Neighborhood Forest--this is more of a cultural issue than anything. And again these trees are FREE, and beggars can't be choosers. I realize all of these things, and I do not wish to put Neighborhood Forest down. I'm just explaining why it didn't work well for our particular library.
3. Our lists got all wonky. We had two library branches make an account, with the idea that those who registered at one branch would have their trees sent to that branch, and so on. But somehow our two lists got scrambled up, and the names on one branch should have been on the other list. Even my personal sign up was on the wrong library's list! This could have been avoided by us just making one account and figuring all this stuff out once it was all settled--so, live and learn on that one. But boy it was a hot mess.
4. We thought they would be sent in an individual container and we would just hand them out. But the trees arrived bundled together in plastic wrap, and included a small bag like the kind you get for produce at the grocery store. We had to pull apart the individual trees and insert them into the bags and give them out that way. We thought they needed extra dirt, so we bought potting soil and added that to the baggies. We then used cups (that we already had) to stick them down in for easier transporting. No biggie, but a mess that we weren't quite prepared for.
So, after about a week we had around 140 trees left that nobody seemed to want. The Conservation District and the Girl Scouts didn't take them, but the Extension Office did. They said they'd figure something out, and if nothing else, would give them away at the Farmer's Market. I hope something good comes of them!