A collection of white cedar seedlings the South Portland Land Trust received through a donation. The trust will be offering 1,000 seedlings for free to the public over the next two Saturdays. Credit: Richard Rottkov

SOUTH PORTLAND — Members of the South Portland Land Trust have always maintained that planting trees is a great way for the public to help the environment, and starting this weekend the trust will be offering free seedlings to encourage local residents to do their part.

The land trust has acquired a donation from Cedar Works of Rockland of 1,000 northern white cedar seedlings, and will be distributing them in bundles of 10 for free this Saturday, May 23, and next Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the edge of Mill Creek Park on Cottage Road.

“Planting a tree may seem like a small action, given that climate change is a crisis that spans our globe,” said the trust’s president, Richard Rottkov. “However, the most powerful and hopeful actions that each of us can undertake are often local acts of respect and attention …visible and tangible ways of caring for the places where we live. That means these little trees can add up to one big difference.”

According to a statement from the trust, northern white cedar work well in groups as hedging, or to provide a windbreak or sound buffer. They grow best in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sun per day, and can grow as high as 40 to 60 feet, with a width of 10 to 15 feet.

Tom Blake, one of the trust’s founders and self-described “tree nut,” said this is the first time the trust has done a project quite like this, but he recalled a similar one by the city 20 years ago that involved planting seedlings of the exact same type on a stretch of land between Pearl and Chestnut Streets. Residents can go to a nature trail there today and see what the trees will look like when fully grown.

“You’ve got a wall of green on both sides of you,” he said.

Blake suggested that families looking for a project to do while homebound during the coronavirus pandemic might consider this as a fun outdoor project – one that will help the environment, too.

“The best thing we can do as families and individuals is to plant trees,” he said.

Bob Morrill, a member of the trust’s board of directors, said the seedlings are free to the public. Donations, while not required, are always welcome.

“It’s just our way of communicating with nature and the city of South Portland,” he said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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