Ag society sprouts tree sponsorship program

·2 min read

The Strathmore and District Agricultural Society has started a new tree sponsorship program that will see dozens of commemorative elm trees added to its grounds.

Residents and groups can recognize or commemorate individuals in the community by sponsoring the planting of rows of Brandon elm trees at the ag grounds, to be called the Row of Honour.

The trees will help beautify the area, said Ryan Schmidt, general manager and CEO of Strathmore and District Agricultural Society. “Brandon elms are long-lived trees that grow very tall with a lovely canopy; they will really transform the look of our grounds.”

Brandon elm are cultivars of American elm (Ulmus americana) but are more upright. They grow to about 49 feet (15 metres) at maturity, live for about 80 years or more, and have wide environmental tolerances, including growing in dry conditions and urban areas.

The idea was proposed by Dale Johnson, a local arborist, because he had some people he wanted to honour, said Schmidt. “We talked about it and decided it would be a great idea to put forward, as we know there’s lots of heroes around here that deserve recognition.”

Each sponsor will select a person they wish to honour, and a tree will be planted with an accompanying post and plaque to commemorate them.

“So, it could be someone that has passed away and has a tree planted in their memory, or someone who is still with us they just want to appreciate,” he said.

Some of the people who will be recognized will be those who have played a role in developing the agricultural society and the Strathmore Stampede, he said. But the program is open to anyone.

The cost of sponsoring each tree is $1,000, which covers the cost of the tree, and its planting and lifetime maintenance. Eagle Lake Nurseries is providing the trees at cost, which typically retail for about $600, and the planting and maintenance is also being provided at cost by local arborists.

“That makes it all possible for that price,” said Schmidt.

The planting is being planned in two phases, with trees being planted in the inner grounds in the first phase and at the grounds’ entrance in the second. A few trees have already been planted, thanks to Johnson. The next plantings will happen in the spring, but the project will be open for multiple years.

The trees in the inner grounds will line either side of the walkway between the admission building and the grandstands. “You’ll be walking down a path between these rows of trees with the canopy above you – it will be beautiful.”

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times