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Planting Trees for Florida’s Arbor Day

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In a grand and official recognition of Florida Arbor Day, the Brooksville Garden Club—as part of a special partnership with the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, the City of Brooksville and Brooksville Park and Recreation—will plant a native live oak tree at Tom Varn Park at 11 a.m. on Jan. 19. Furthermore, as the club plants this majestic tree, they also establish their role and place in a celebration of rich natural history right here in Florida.

“This is in conjunction with the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs to celebrate Florida’s Arbor Day. Clubs across the state will all be planting trees at the same time! FFGC.org is celebrating 100 years in 2024,” said Kathy Schemmel, president of the Brooksville Garden Club.

According to data compiled by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and supplied by the Brooksville Garden Club, garden clubs across the state will plant more than 400 trees on January 19, 2024, to celebrate Florida Arbor Day and the 100th anniversary of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs (FFGC). Clubs are participating by finding and earmarking their planting sites and choosing the trees that will fill them.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, participating garden clubs were encouraged to purchase sizable native trees. To be reimbursed up to $100, a club was required to plant a native tree—particularly those that are large, hurricane-resistant, and/or shade trees in keystone genera that feed more caterpillars and baby birds.

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“This will achieve the grant’s aim to increase climate resilience and support biodiversity,” stated the supplied information.

Most of Florida’s 153 garden clubs are expected to plant a single tree, including the Brooksville Garden Club, a member of the Florida Federated Garden Clubs, and the National Garden Clubs, Inc. The Brooksville Garden Club meets from September through May at noon on the second Wednesday of the month at Sylvan Grove Clubhouse, 2490 Broad Street, Brooksville.
“On that day, all across the state, trees will be planted. We’ll be at Tom Varn Park,” said Schemmel. “The City of Brooksville has joined us to help honor this 100th anniversary event and our Florida Arbor Day.”

For this occasion, the garden club chose a 15-gallon, 6–8-foot live oak tree, paying a total of $200 for the tree and an accompanying plaque.

According to Schemmel, the club is also giving the community this tree, which will come with a special plaque. “This tree is for everyone,” she said. “Its planting fits perfectly into our mission to enhance the environment of our community.”

Andrea Read, public information coordinator for the City of Brooksville, agrees. “What better day than Arbor Day to plant this tree to honor the special contribution that the garden club made to our community? Especially in light of our Tree City designation,” she said. “The garden club covered the cost of the tree and the plaque and completed an application process.”

The club followed the same process of application required for its Memorial Tree program, which allows applicants to choose between oak, red maple, magnolia or elm.

“Parks staff will take care of planting the tree at Tom Varn Park,” said Read. “There will not be any ceremony; however, the City Council has been invited to attend.”

“This tree will be a part of our history and ambiance,” said Read.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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