Arbor Day: You Won’t Want to Leaf This One Off the Calendar


Trees are terrific.

Perhaps you remember that Arbor Day commercial with the crooning cardinal from the 80s? Even though I was young watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, I still remember the lyrics persuading me, in no uncertain terms, to hug a tree. 

In addition to poorly animated commercials about trees and water conservation, our schools used to give trees away on Arbor Day. My mom still has a pine tree from when I was in 4th grade that is now taller than her house. She also boasts the most trees in the neighborhood on her less-than-one-acre.

Trees really are terrific, and that little bird doesn’t need to sing in my ear to tell me so. 

Our newly planted tree budding, opening for Spring.

Arbor Day History

Arbor Day–not to be confused with Earth Day–unofficially began in 1854 with pioneers moving to the Nebraska Territory. By valuing the importance of trees–as windbreakers, to hold soil in place, for fuel, etc.–Julius Sterling Morton and his wife began planting trees on their new property. Using the newspaper he owned as a stage, Morton began promoting tree-planting in the new area; through his efforts April 10, 1872 was the first Arbor Day. After his death, Nebraska moved the formal date to Morton’s birthday, April 22nd. 

Since then, the day set apart for planting trees has become an official holiday in some states. It is celebrated throughout the United States, and most provinces in Canada, between December through May. Most states hold tree-planting ceremonies, however, in April or May. Kentucky officially recognized the day on the first Friday in April; Ohio holds it on the last Friday in April.

Ohio–April 28th, 2017

What Can We Do?

There are plenty of ways to get your hands dirty, even if you don’t want to dig in!

The Arbor Day Foundation website offers a slew of inspiring suggestions on their Celebration Ideas page. Their ideas range from reading a book about trees, to writing or performing a skit; Of course, they also suggest planting trees.

Our kids standing in the hole for our tree (in honor of our miscarried babies).

Ways to Make Tree-Planting Special:

As if planting an organism, and watching it grow, isn’t special enough, there are ways in which you can make it mean more.

Do you have something to plant with it? This can be anything from an old diary to a placenta (yeah, I saved those) to ashes. Don’t have any of those? Sometimes just planting the tree in the name of an item, person, or idea can significantly impact how you view that particular something.

Seeing a tree cycle through each season, maturing and flourishing, gives us such great examples for how to live each day fully:

To Whom Do We Go For Help?

There are a few great organizations in the area that advocate tree-planting:

  • Taking Root
    • Taking Root is grassroots movement focusing on our region’s loss of forests “by planting trees, better managing our local forests, promoting the many benefits of healthy trees, and fostering a sense of stewardship among individuals and communities.” 
    • They have a goal to have 2 million trees planted and registered (one for everyone in the Greater Cincinnati region) by 2020. 

If you plant a tree, log it on the RegisTree!

  • Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council
    • This organization is a forum integrating the value of urban forests into local and regional planning–merging the built and natural environments. They host an array of projects and events from the community tree-plantings to research projects and a yearly silent auction. 
  • The Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati
    • Five of Cincinnati’s largest public institutions plus Duke Energy equals a large-scale initiative to adopt and meet environmentally-friendly policies that began in 2008. 
  • The Green Umbrella
    • This group serves as an umbrella (for lack of a better term) uniting over 200 organizations seeking to meet the economic, social, and environmental needs of today while making sure that future generations have what they need to do the same. They began in 1998 and now serve over ten counties in the tri-state area.  
    • While seeing measurable improvements in eight key areas of sustainability, they focus a lot on getting people outdoors and into our surrounding environments. 
    • The Green Umbrella is a major sponsor for The Great Outdoor Weekend every September!
  • Any nursery or tree farm where you get your tree will be happy to talk to you about choosing the right tree,  where to plant it, and in what kind of soil.

Good luck and enjoy getting your hands dirty.


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