As it celebrates this month’s opening of its new spacious store in Woodstock, Brennan Home Hardware Building Centre and the entire Brennan family marked National Tree Day by joining partners to plant trees at three locations in Florenceville-Bristol and one in Woodstock.
“We’re celebrating the growth of our business,” said Rayanne Brennan, as she and her mother, family matriarch and well-known author Ann Brennan, joined partners to plant a blue spruce at Florenceville Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 22. “What better way to celebrate than by planting trees.”
The Brennans and their business partnered with Trees Canada and the Florenceville-Bristol beautification committee to plant trees at Bristol Elementary and Florenceville Elementary schools, and Muddy Boots Outdoor Learning Centre, just down the street from FES.
Earlier Brennan Home Hardware staff planted five red maples in the yard of Sanctuary House on Deakin Drive, a neighbour of the new 45,000-square-foot store, which will open Sept. 25 at 141 Turner Street, off Deakin Drive.
“We’re happy to be in the neighbourhood,” said Rayanne.
Rebecca Bubar, Executive Director of Sanctuary House, a transition house for women and children facing domestic abuse, welcomed the new trees surrounding the non-profit’s new modern shelter, which opened last year.
“On behalf of Sanctuary House, we are thrilled and honoured to be a recipient of five red maple trees,” she said. “Not only will they bring more life to our property and neighbourhood, but they will symbolize new beginnings and the importance of communities coming together.”
Speaking to a small group of students safely distanced from the tree planting Florenceville Elementary, Ann Brennan talked about her life-long love of trees. She spoke about the many years of planting trees at the family farm in Johnville to protect plant species not growing well in New Brunswick.
Ann said they welcome tours from local schools where students can travel paths through the trees, which are interspersed with the presence of fairies from her books.
The Brennans’ devotion to plant life is also on display at Shamrock Gardens, built next to their Florenceville-Bristol store in 2009 in memory of Ann’s late husband, Ray Brennan.
That same year, Rayanne said in a press release on behalf of Brennans, the Florenceville-Bristol store participated in Home Hardware’s annual tree plant with Tree Canada to plant trees throughout the town.
Recently, she added, the Brennans formed a partnership with the village’s beautification department to maintain and enhance Shamrock Garden.
Joining Rayanne and Ann Brennan at FES were Val McCowen and Terry Hunter of Florenceville Bristol’s beautification committee, principal Sarah Mahar, teacher and GAIA club leader Teena Bishop, and Anglophone West School District Community Engagement Coordinator Valerie Carmichael.
Hunter, a board member of the nearby Muddy Boots Outdoor Learning Centre wetlands project, said the learning centre and schools depend on the support of businesses to help promote the wonder of nature to young students and all age groups.
“The Muddy Boots Outdoor Learning Centre is a work in progress,” Hunter explained. “Through the volunteer efforts of individuals and various associations as well as financial support from a variety of sources, including businesses like Brennan’s, a pastureland is being transformed into a forest and wetland site. A magical place for students to learn about nature.”
He explained Muddy Boots, in addition to being an accessible community outdoor classroom, strives to protect wildlife as a Ducks Unlimited Wetland Centre of Excellence.
Bishop said staff and students at FES place a significant emphasis on the natural habitat and outdoor learning.
FES is home to Plantopia, a well-managed garden of flowers, vegetables and other plants which serves as a learning centre and backdrop for outdoor classes. Mahar said students help with the harvesting of vegetables which they sell as a fundraiser for student activities.
Bishop said students show a great interest in learning about and protecting nature, noting 50 students are members of the GAIA program, focusing on protecting the environment.
After Hunter and McCowan, with the help of a few shovels of dirt by Ann Brennan, planted the blue spruce behind FES, the group moved on to Bristol Elementary at the other end of town to repeat the exercise.
Mark Brennan, Brennan Home Hardware Building Centre board chairman, said his company welcomed the opportunity to plant the trees at the four locations.
“We have received incredible support from residents of the upper St. John River Valley for close to 50 years, and this is an opportunity for us to say thank you in a real and tangible way,” he said. “We are pleased to show our support to two local schools and two not-for-profit organizations that are making a positive difference in the lives of valley residents.”
Rayanne explained Brennan’s locations in Woodstock and Florenceville-Bristol are among 32 Home Hardware and Home Building Centre locations participating in tree planting initiatives across the country. Since 1992, Home Hardware Dealers have planted 28,190 trees, valued at over $1.6 million, in green spaces from coast to coast.
Danielle St-Aubin, the CEO of Tree Canada, expressed appreciation for Home Hardware's support.
“Tree Canada, Canada’s only national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments, is excited to continue our partnership with Home Hardware by bringing more trees to communities across Canada,” she said. “Since 1992, Tree Canada and Home Hardware have worked together to plant and maintain close to 30,000 trees, creating a lasting legacy for present and future generations.”
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun