WESTFIELD, NJ — The Rotary Club of Westfield brought together other community groups to plant 25 trees in Westfield on Friday, June 8. Three community foundations helped provide the funding. Trees clean the air and beautify the town.

On Friday afternoon at exactly 4 p.m., the volunteers started planting trees on Dudley Court, Westfield. By 4:18 p.m. they had planted all 25 trees, faster than one tree per minute. “Many hands make light work”. After that, they placed mulch over the base of each tree, and a “gator bag” for watering each tree. They were finished with the street cleaned by 5 p.m. It was 83 degrees and sunny. 33 people from several different community groups helped hands-on with the project, making it a true community effort.

The Tree Planting Project is an official program of Rotary International (RI) this year. RI President Ian Riseley has challenged every one of the 33,000 Rotary Clubs in 172 countries of the world to plant one tree per member. This means that 1.2 million Rotarians will be planting 1.2 million trees this year.

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Trees breathe in carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen. Humans do the reverse- we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, creating a balanced symbiosis. Each tree provides enough oxygen for two people on average. The leaves filter out the heavy metals and other air pollution, giving us clean healthy air. In addition, trees beautify the town. The project is sustainable because trees live for many decades.

Westfield Rotary Club President Phil Salerno and Past District Governor (PDG) Dr. D. Michael Hart met with Westfield Mayor Shelly Brindle and Township Forestry Supervisor Rob Kosciolek on Tuesday, June 5th to discuss the project and coordinate the final arrangements.

PDG Michael Hart wrote the grant proposals to arrange the financing from three sources: The Westfield Foundation gave $2,000; the Rotary Club of Westfield Foundation grants committee donated $2,210; and the Rotary International District 7510 grant was another $1,000. It took nine months to arrange financing. Trees cost approximately $100 each, so the Rotary can purchase approximately 50 trees. The Township buys them discounted from a nursery in south Jersey and transports them up here. The Rotary plans to have a second tree planting over the summer at Jefferson School in Westfield. Volunteers are welcome.

The type of trees planted on Dudley Court were Rising Sun Appalachian Red Buds. The Township wants trees which: will not grow too tall and tangle with the overhead wires; the roots will not lift the sidewalk; will have a good root system to anchor in storms; grow fast and will be hardy enough to withstand a drought; are suited to our climate; and are acceptable to the residents on whose property they are being planted. These beautiful trees have yellow leaves which turn orange in the fall and have purple flower blossoms in the early spring. They live 50 to 70 years.

The Department of Public Works purchased the trees in advance; dug the holes Thursday night, and placed the trees near the holes. Dr. Nina O’Connell who lives on the block notified the neighbors, so the residents had their cars off the street Thursday and Friday. The Dept of Public Works blocked off the street at 3:45 pm on Friday and had all of the needed equipment in place for a 4:00 pm start.

The volunteers put the trees into the holes and covered the dirt over the roots. Next the volunteers shoveled mulch around the base of each tree. Each tree had a “gator bag” placed around it. The residents need to fill the gator bags with 5 gallons of water every other day, except on rainy days, throughout the dry part of the summer. The water drips out giving a steady source of water to the tree, ensuring its survival.

The Department of Public Works had a street sweeper ready. The volunteers removed the large rocks and debris out of the street, then the street sweeper ran down the street leaving a clean and professional job. Next, the Water Truck drove down the street, filling each gator bag with 5 gallons of water. They were completely done by 5 pm. The project took many months to organize, but it was completed in only one hour. The short time created a minimal disruption to the residents.

The 14 attendees from the Rotary Club were: Marta Alexandre; Jayson Astel; Chris Beck; Sherry Cronin; Maria Fuentes; Deidre Gelinne; Michael Hart; Nancy Jackson; Joe Mindak; Mary Ellen O’Boyle; Phil Richardson; Chung Shih; Warren Rorden; and Blake Width

The High School Interact Service Club was represented by Matt Doyle.

Boy Scout Troop 77 attendees were: Will Arida; Alex Caiola; Spencer Linenberg; and Shaan Patel.

Neighbors helping were: Dr. Nina O’Connell; Dr. Elizabeth Alger; Michael Saxon; and Cynthia Wolfe.  Some of the neighbors made donations to the Rotary Club. One neighbor made her bathroom available; and another provided a cooler of ice with water bottles. One father dropping off his Boy Scout picked up a shovel and helped- dentist Dr. Ken Arida.

Westfield Township Forestry Supervisor Rob Kosciolek of the Department of Public Works had his men helping and had all the heavy equipment and trucks in place necessary for a smooth operation. The Rotary Club commends their organization and professionalism.

The volunteers were in good spirits and enjoyed the activity. It feels good to role up your sleeves, use your muscles, and do something positive to help the town. Trees provide clean healthy air. The neighbors were overjoyed at having a beautiful street.

The Rotary Club meets the first three Tuesdays of the month (but not July 3rd) on the second floor of the Westfield Y, at 12:15 for lunch. Guests are always welcome. Contact Dr. Michael Hart drmhart@yahoo.com for information.