By Emily Williams
For 22 years, the city of Mountain Brook has claimed and maintained its status as a Tree City USA, proudly flying the flag on the pole in the City Hall yard.
City Manager Sam Gaston said the annual Arbor Day celebration, being held this year on March 12, is a big part of the city’s efforts to maintain that status.
To kick-off preparations for Arbor Day, the city held a poster contest for elementary school students to submit artwork inspired by the theme “Trees are terrific inside and out.” Gaston, along with Mountain Brook Tree Commission members Kenneth Key and Ruth Mears, presented Village Gold Cards to the winning students.
Fifth-grade winners included Cherokee Bend’s Lucy Kerr and Paelain Wilkinson, Mountain Brook Elementary’s Kendall Crabtree and Hayden Hawkins, Crestline’s Sarah Mia Dunlap and Lucy Clapp, and Brookwood Forest’s Sarah Inskeep.
First place winners’ posters will move on to a statewide poster contest in Anniston.
“We appreciate you all for helping us with this,” Gaston told the winners. “The pictures are beautiful and it will be a great kick-off for the season.”
The city plans to celebrate Arbor Day by handing out 2,000 trees. Members of the Tree Commission, city officials and volunteers will be giving out a variety of trees at Emmet O’Neal Library, Whole Foods, Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook Village and the Piggly Wiggly on River Run Drive.
According to Gaston, city forester Don Cafaro and his commission pick the types of trees to hand out each year based on their ability to thrive in the city’s climate while also taking into consideration which species they’ve handed out in years past.
“We gave out plums one year,” Gaston said. “We planted one at our old house and it finally started to produce fruit but we were moving into a new house.” He said that they normally hand out four to five varieties, but they get donations from time to time as well.
“Somebody donated some Japanese maples last year, about 100 of them,” Kenneth said. “(Gaston) and I had them over at the library and they were gone in about 30 minutes.”
Any trees that aren’t claimed will be taken to Oak Street Garden Shop, where they will be available for free until they run out.
“You’ve got some of the same people showing up every year who can’t wait for Arbor Day,” Gaston said. “They come and get several trees. And you don’t have to be from Mountain Brook. We’ll give anybody a tree if they’ll go plant it somewhere. Some even take them out to their farms and plant them there.”