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Seedling giveaway faster than expected

By Rachel Shirey

rshirey@henryherald.com

McDONOUGH — Once there was a tree ...

And the tree was happy.

And much like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Henry County’s trees loved and were loved yesterday.

So much so that the Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual seedling giveaway ended by 10 a.m.

In honor of Georgia’s Arbor Day, the SWCD distributed more than 400 free seedlings at four locations across Henry County, including two locations in McDonough, one in Locust Grove and one in Stockbridge.

Diane Oetting, secretary with the Henry County Extension Office, said she wasn’t surprised by how fast the trees disappeared Friday morning because people flock to free items, especially trees.

“People want to come out and get seedlings because they’re free, and within two to three years you have a beautiful tree,” Oetting said. “And trees are very expensive.”

People were able to take multiple seedlings home for three different types of trees: Southern Catalpa, River Birch and Redbud.

“People were very pleased,” Oetting said.

But not those few who missed the giveaway completely, like McDonough resident Don Clement.

“I know a tree goes fast, but a lot of people won’t go through the trouble to go,” he said. “And so my wife said they’ll all be gone. And I said, ‘Well they might be, but a lot of people read it and forget it.’ We forgot it.”

Clement said he was disappointed to discover how early the event ended, especially after stopping at the Aubrey Harvey Agriculture Building prior to Heritage Park.

He said he drew the line at Stockbridge City Hall.

“I was just kind of hoping that not enough people just got out to bother to go do it,” Clement added.

Judy Coker, the publicity chairman for the Henry County Master Gardeners, said the organization has given trees away for more than five years in celebration of Arbor Day, which was first marked at the state level in 1890 and is observed each year in February.

“It’s to promote trees and to encourage people to plant trees to help the environment,” said Coker.

Coker said trees not only beautify landscapes but also help combat erosion, conserve energy and provide homes for birds and wildlife.

“We just give them away until they’re gone,” said Coker.

Henry Daily Herald Reporter Jason Smith contributed to this story.