The Flossmoor Hills Green Team was excited about helping plant an Illinois pecan that is expected to produce nuts in another 10 years or so. It was part of the school’s Arbor Day observance.
When Dave Becker asked for help during Friday’s Arbor Day tree planting at Flossmoor Hills School, there was no shortage of volunteers.
“Who’d like to help with digging?” inquired Becker, Flossmoor’s forest maintenance technician.
Nearly every one of the 20 fourth and fifth graders immediately raised their hands. They are all members of the Flossmoor Hills Green Team and were excited about helping plant the tree, an Illinois pecan that is expected to produce nuts in another 10 years or so.
Students passed around three shovels and took turns digging the hole into which the pecan tree would be lowered. Once it was placed in the ground, students again volunteered to rake dirt at the base of the tree and help spread mulch.
As Flossmoor’s resident arborist, Becker is in charge of the trees that are planted on the village’s parkways. It was the first time that an Illinois pecan has been planted on a village parkway, he said. In recent years, Flossmoor has pushed diversity and native trees for the parkways, which currently have a high percentage of aging maples.
During the planting process, Becker told students about Arbor Day, a yearly national event dedicated to trees as an important part of the American landscape. It is celebrated in every American state but on different days depending on optimal conditions for tree planting. In Illinois, it takes place on the last Friday in April.
Becker also gave pointers on the best way to plant a tree. Roots need to be considered at all times, he said, and there should be a carved-out area in the dirt and mulch where the trunk comes out of the ground. That way, water will not collect at the roots, which can lead to a diseased tree.
The tree was donated by Possibility Place, a nursery in Monee that specializes in native plants. Flossmoor Hills teacher Pam Abbott, the school’s Green Team coordinator, said her group worked with the village to get the tree. The Green Team has undertaken several projects during the last year, she said, but none as visible and long-lasting as the new tree.
Becker asked the students about the importance of trees. They told him that trees provide oxygen and reduce pollutants, provide wood and add beauty to our lives. Becker then gave them tips on watering. The pecan should be watered once a week, he said, and should get about 15 gallons of water.
“You hear that, students?” said teacher Sandy Thompson, who also serves on the Green Team. “Fifteen gallons of water once a week. That’s our goal.”