Arbor Day activities underscore the importance of trees in Greenfield

arbor day 2023 - 02
City Manager Todd Wilkin and Council Chairman Phil Clyburn are shown during visits to first graders for Greenfield's Arbor Day observance.

By Ron Coffey
Greenfield Tree Commission

Trees are an important part of the landscape in Greenfield, Ohio. No doubt green trees helped inspire Gen. Duncan McArthur when he bestowed the name of Greenfield on the town he founded in 1799.

Over the years, some of the trees provided lumber for home building and others created shade in the local cemetery and community parks. It seems that Greenfield has always boasted some large, ancient trees and many beautiful species that contribute to the quality of life in the venerable community along the banks of Paint Creek.

At various times in the past half-century, interested citizens and government officials have seen to it that downtown business district had trees to provide shade and beauty to the area. In the 1980s numerous skyline locusts were planted, and some remain to this day. In the early 2000s plum trees helped grace the business district, but had a short lifespan. Thanks to the leadership of former City Manager Betty Bishop and the support of Greenfield City Council members, a Tree Commission was formed in 2012 to continue beautification efforts.

For more than a decade, the community has celebrated Arbor Day each April with city officials visiting first grade classrooms in the Greenfield Exempted Village School District and distributing tree seedlings to the young students. City leaders read Arbor Day proclamations and extoll the many virtues of trees, such as reducing the erosion of precious topsoil by wind and water, cutting heating and cooling costs, moderating the temperature, cleaning the air, producing life-giving oxygen and providing habitat for wildlife. As trees are a renewable resource, they provide paper, wood for countless products and fuel for our fires. Trees increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas, and beautify our community.

Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin and Council Chairman Phil Clyburn visited with local first graders on April 17 and distributed Norway spruce seedlings for the children to take home and plant.

Also in April, Tree Commission member Holly Ellinger donated some trees that she had purchased a few years previously to be planted at Mitchell Park in Greenfield. Holly planted the seedlings on her own property in 2021 to get them off to a good start, and on April 12 Greenfield employees Rachel Crabtree and Andy Bolender helped transplant five trees from the Ellinger residence to Mitchell Park. The trees are now located near the shelter house.

On April 20, Tree Commission Chairman Ron Coffey attended the Tree City USA event at Fairfield, Ohio and brought home Greenfield’s Tree City USA Award recognizing the community’s ongoing activities including planting trees, removing diseased or damaged trees and working towards the Tree Commission’s goals for beautifying Greenfield. The Tree City USA Award for 2022 marks the ninth consecutive year that Greenfield has been recognized.

Since 2013, the Tree Commission’s records show that 37 trees have been planted in the business district to help beautify Greenfield.

One of Greenfield’s greatest assets is its natural beauty, nestled along a creek in the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range,” Coffey said. “We are working to keep our tree population healthy as we beautify our community and enjoy the many attractions found in south central Ohio.”

Looking ahead, Tree Commission members Coffey, Ellinger, Patsy Smith and Kandy Wilson are focusing on the Greenfield Cemetery, where some older trees are starting to die off and pose a threat to monuments as well as pedestrians who walk the paths there. Working in conjunction with the Greenfield administration, the tree commission is hopeful that grant funding can be obtained to remove some of the trees and replace them with diverse species to provide canopy coverage for decades to come.

tree transplants

Five trees were transplanted from Holly Ellinger's property to Mitchell Park in Greenfield in April 2023 as part of the village's Arbor Day observance. Ellinger (center) is shown with village employees Andy Bolender and Rachel Crabtree.