This week, Lexington’s fourth annual Tree Week aims to protect, cultivate, celebrate and enjoy the ecological and health benefits of trees. On Saturday, Oct. 9, a tree planting at Bryan Station kicked off the week’s events.
To make the event accessible to the public, Friends of the Parks, a 501c (3), non-profit for the beautification of local parks and playgrounds, planted 250 six-foot, one-inch diameter trees in three-gallon pots to make it easy for any volunteer to come in and plant a tree. The event lasted from 9 a.m. to noon and was the first of six tree plantings this week.
Sandy Shafer, a representative for Friends of the Parks, said she hopes one day to create a tree canopy that will stretch across both the rural and urban areas of Lexington, both beautifying the city and decreasing its carbon footprint.
"This footprint, here in this greenway, backs up to I-75 with housing on the other side. It will provide a buffer for those that live here and this greenway,” Shafer said. “Instead of being an overlooked area, it will be an ecosystem that will support wildlife and complement the area rather than be an overgrown area that can't be accessed.”
Just a few minutes down the road at 419 East 7th Street, Tree Week continued with an event hosted by Dr. Mark Coyne, a professor of soil microbiology at UK, and Robert Paratley, the University Herbarium’s curator.
Coyne and Paratley conducted Tree Walks at African American Cemetery No. 2. Coyne gave information about the more than 148 trees currently in the cemetery, including the 100 added in 2017. Paratley guided attendees around the area, showing them different trees and drawing attention to the people buried near them.
Coyne said the trees help with the local water supply and are a buffer between potentially harmful substances from the nearby junkyard and the housing developments in the area. Coyne added that the trees provided a habitat for local wildlife. He said he would like students to walk away knowing what trees do for the environment and that tree identification is a useful skill.
Coyne compared the cemetery to a smaller arboretum. He spoke to the students in the Agriculture, Food and Environment College in particular about how to turn an urban area into a place that benefits both the people and the environment.
"You do it by maintenance, you do it by maintaining a habitat, you do it by putting in trees for the benefits they have," he said.
Tree Week continues through Oct. 16 and will include the Lexington Cemetery Conifers Walk on Wednesday, Oct. 13, The Kentucky Maple Syrup Project on Thursday, Oct. 14, a tree planting at Greenhouse 17 on Friday, Oct. 15, and Woodlands in the Bluegrass on Saturday, Oct. 16. For more information about these and other upcoming Tree Week events visit ufi.ca.uky.edu.