HAMILTON, NY – The post-COVID tree sale is a family reunion of sorts, as would-be tree planters gather to collect their stock and converse with each other on “How have you been?”, “How are the children?” and “What’s new?”

The annual April sale has that friendly spring vibe, and more than 225 residents from Madison, Oneida and surrounding counties bought seedlings and transplants from this year’s Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District’s 37th annual tree sale.

Mark Zagger, longtime tree customer since 2002, sized up his stewardship experience by quipping, “I measure my life by these trees.”

“I’ve planted for shade, hedgerows and wildlife habitat over all these years,” he said. “I feel comfortable in agreeing with the famous quote by Nelson Henderson – ‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’”

And why not? The shade of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10% to a property’s value and one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide while pumping out four tons of oxygen to meet the annual needs of 18 people.

Trees also stabilize riparian areas and topsoil with an added benefit of being a carbon sink and provide food for wildlife while sustaining a community with local lumber, fruit and maple syrup. They also make great places for kids to play.

According to Madison County SWCD tree sale coordinators Joann Burke and Patty Casler, the top selling tree varieties this year were the spruces, fruit trees, willows and strawberry plants. Using the new National Tree Benefit Calculator (treebenefits.com/calculator), our spruce trees will intercept 1,258 gallons of stormwater runoff in a year, will conserve 60 kWh of electricity for cooling, reduce consumption of oil or natural gas by 19 therms, will reduce atmospheric carbon by 209 pounds and will raise the property value by $11 a year for a total yearly benefit of $65 per tree.

The success and 37-year legacy of this annual program comes from a four-month planning process headed by district staff in a joint venture with generations of residents. This family affair of conservation inspires a community and works in partnership to create a sustainable environment for Madison County and beyond.

To order trees online in 2024 visit madcoswcd.com. For more information on your local conservation partner’s initiatives, contact the Madison County SWCD office at 315.824.9849.

by Troy Bishopp