Tree farm takes off

MARSHALL – Arbor Day came a little bit late to Marshall this year, but the crew of Marshall High School students measuring out rows of potted evergreen seedlings on Monday certainly looked as if they were making up for lost time.

Dozens of little trees were spaced out in lines by one group of students, while another group grabbed shovels and started digging holes to plant them. Students Brock Klaith and Kollin Fischer followed behind with a wheelbarrow, spreading mulch around the trees.

“I’ve never done this before. It’s a good experience,” said student Ahmed Omer, as he and Josh Escamilla filled in dirt around a newly-planted tree.

“It’s a good thing to do for the school,” Escamilla said. “Somebody’s got to do it, so it might as well be the students.”

The tree-planting project was part of an Arbor Day event organized with the help of Melinda Kawalek, the GreenCorps member who’s been working in Marshall. Although Arbor Day is usually celebrated on April 25, Kawalek said May is Arbor Month.

Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes had officially designated last Thursday as Arbor Day for the city, but wet weather had postponed the planting project near the high school.

Kawalek and MHS teachers helped coordinate students as they spaced out the trees in three rows, running along the eastern side of a city-owned stormwater pond. Once planted and allowed to mature a little more, the trees will form part of a “farm” for future landscaping projects in Marshall.

“They will probably be transplanted to other spots, and the school district will have access to the trees,” she said. With developments like the regional amateur sports center being planned for the area around the high school, the trees may find their new homes in the next few years.

Kawalek said the trees students were planting were the same kind that Marshall Municipal Utilities offers in its tree sales. In addition to other environmental and aesthetic benefits, trees provide shade that can help cool buildings and reduce energy use.

MHS students planting trees Monday said they were enjoying the change of pace from classroom work.

“It’s fun to get some fresh air,” Jack Bock said.