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Club, community plant 16 trees in Elmwood Cemetery

By Staff | Nov 1, 2019

From left, fourth grader Jack Groen, seventh grader Leah Groen and fourth grader Hannah Lilie spread out mulch around the base of a gum tree, which they christened Princess Bubblegum in Elmwood Cemetery on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Forty-five community and Shepherdstown Rotary Club members participated in the Second Annual Rotary Tree Planting Project at Elmwood Cemetery on Saturday morning.

CommuniTree Coordinator Jeff Iliff, of the Cacapon Institute, started the event with a demonstration of how to plant a tree, before the group separated to plant the remaining 15 trees throughout the cemetery. According to Iliff, the trees distributed in the CommuniTree program are planted in public places and funded by a Chesapeake Bay Foundation grant.

“With the CommuniTree program, you write a grant proposal and we give the trees to you for free,” Iliff said, mentioning the Cacapon Institute also has a program for planting reduced-cost trees on private properties.

“I encourage people to plant trees whenever possible,” Iliff said, as he carefully removed a linden tree from its plastic pot, loosened its roots and placed it in a pre-dug hole. “These are native trees, they’re used to this soil and the stones, so leave them in the ground.”

More than one Rotary member brought their family to help with the tree planting, including Cheryl Groen, of Shepherdstown.

From right, Eagle School Intermediate third grader Declan Kradel and fifth grader Liam Kradel help spread mulch around the base of a linden tree, as CommuniTree Coordinator Jeff Iliff explains how to plant a tree to volunteers in Elmwood Cemetery on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“We made it a family affair today. It’s a good way to start the weekend, getting into the dirt, getting the kids out in the air and doing something good to help in their community,” Groen said, as her husband, Matthew, and their three children planted a gum tree, which they christened “Princess Bubblegum.”

For those who were returning participants in this year’s tree planting, seeing the growth of the trees they had planted last year was an encouragement to continue the project.

“This is my second year planting trees here with my husband, Alex, who is a Rotary member,” said Carline Shaw, of Shepherdstown. “We need to plant more trees, because they’re beautiful and good for our environment. And to honor the people buried here in Elmwood Cemetery, as well.

“The two trees I planted last year are out by the road and over there,” Shaw said, pointing across the graveyard. “I have checked on them over the last year, to see how they have been growing.”

That sense of responsibility is exactly what Iliff said the program is about.

Members of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club and community pause for a group photo, before planting trees and weed whacking in Elmwood Cemetery on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“You can look back and say, ‘I planted that’ with your grandchildren in 80 years from now,” Iliff said.

To learn more about the Cacapon Institute’s programs, visit www.cacaponinstitute.org.