BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - As part of the Bernards Township Shade Tree Commission's continuing effort to replace some of the approximately 15,000 township trees lost during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the township invited residents to pick up free tree seedings on April 25 at Pleasant Valley Park off Valley Road.

The seedlings were to be given out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or while trees last) in the pool parking lot to the left, soon after the entrance to the municipal park.

Reseeding at Pleasant Valley Park on Saturday

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Also at 10 a.m. at Pleasant Valley Park on Saturday, the township and Back to Nature Home & Garden Center from Basking Ridge will also present a reseeding that is the culmination of the garden center’s “Throw and Grow” campaign. The project has been providing a hands-on learning experience that will help protect threatened bees, butterflies and birds. 

The 2015 Bernards Arbor Day Tree Giveaway Species list will include:

1. Eastern Redbud
2. Northern Red Oak
3. Norway Spruce
4. Sweetgum
5. Willow Oak

Tree City USA

The tree giveaway also was a followup of the township's celebration of Arbor Day on Friday, during which the Shade Tree Commission's representatives visited each of Bernards' four elementary schools.

In time for Arbor Day, the township also received certification as a Tree City USA for the 10th year.

The Bernards Township Shade Tree Commission launched the Five in 5 Campaign in response to the destruction caused by Sandy in October 2012. Township officials estimate that at least 15,000 trees were lost during the storm.

In response to the devastation, the Shade Tree Commission has challenged members of the community to plant five trees in their yards over the next five years. “Hurricane Sandy changed our community forever. Trees that had stood for years were uprooted in minutes,” Bruce McArthur, Township Administrator in Bernards Township, noted last year.  “Replacing them is a priority for the continued health and beauty of our community.”

Last fall, in cooperation with Back to Nature Home & Garden, 1,000 trees were given out to township residents to further the campaign to replace the trees lost to Sandy.

Back to Nature Home and Garden also has been inviting children to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and create seed balls to help re-pollinate the local environment. In partnership with Bernards Township, the garden center’s “Throw and Grow” campaign was designed to provide a hands-on learning experience to help protect threatened bees, butterflies and birds.

The program led to Saturday's reseeding event planned for 10 a.m. on April 25 at Pleasant Valley Park on April 25.

Back to Nature hosted the seed ball making events and donating all of the ingredients needed to make the seed balls: clay, soil, organic compost, annual and native perennial seeds. The components are mixed and rolled together to form small balls. Throwing seed balls is a fun way to spread seeds naturally, just as birds do. Once thrown, seed balls set in the earth, germinate, and grow into beneficial, native plants. Participants have been asked to make seed balls for the park but will also get to take some home to throw into their own yards or open spaces.

“You just throw and watch the seed balls grow,” said Anthony Sblendorio, owner of Back to Nature garden retail center, which describes itself as an ecologically-minded landscape design/build firm.

“It’s a simple and fun way to make a real difference for the environment. We’ve picked a native seed mixture that will beautify the landscape while providing food and habitat for beneficial insects, butterflies and birds," Sblendorio said in a press release from Back to Nature earlier this month.

5,000 in five years

The Shade Tree Commission is asking residents to take a pledge to plant five trees in their yards over the next five years. "Plant five trees in your yard over the next 5 years. If five seems like too many, plant whatever you can."

Residents were asked to send a photo of their tree or trees to ShadeTree@Bernards.org. 

If planting trees on property is not an option for some residents, the commission was asking for a contribution to support planting of trees on public spaces in Bernards Township. Checks should be made payable to "Bernards Township."