Trees will take center stage Saturday, March 30, in downtown Asheville when local environmental nonprofit Asheville GreenWorks will distribute several hundred large saplings for free to residents of Buncombe County.
“We’re celebrating our 39th year as a Tree City USA,” says Asheville GreenWorks Executive Director Dawn Chávez, explaining that each year the city of Asheville applies for this designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.
Planting 800 trees annually is another part of the nonprofit’s urban forestry efforts, which support public orchards, pollinator gardens and other year-round planting projects, says Gabby Fitts, GreenWorks’ community forestry coordinator. Fitts is helping plan the inaugural tree giveaway with a similar effort slated for fall.
“Trees are wonderful to look at, but they can provide so many community benefits and cost savings when properly cared for and maintained,” she says. “They are incredibly important for soil stabilization, sequestering carbon, stormwater control and overall energy savings.”
Many of the trees that will be given away at the upcoming event were purchased through a grant from Duke Energy while others were donated. Varieties to be offered include persimmons, pawpaws, maples, oaks, river birches, hickories, sourwoods and more.
Importantly, all trees at the distribution will be native species — a commitment that GreenWorks maintains across all of its plant stock. And the trees have been propagated beyond the sapling stage to make them a bit easier to establish once transplanted.
Distribution will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Trees will only be distributed to residents of Buncombe County with valid identification, and those wishing to participate need to preregister at the Asheville GreenWorks website.
Attendees will be able to choose their own tree — one per household — while supplies last. Each recipient will be asked to complete a brief session at the distribution site on planting and care to help ensure greater success.
The Asheville GreenWorks tree giveaway happens 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, March 30, in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Asheville, 5 Oak St. For more information and to preregister, visit ashevillegreenworks.org/upcoming-events.