"I wanted to do something to celebrate trees [and] what they bring to our lives, and honor their intrinsic beauty," Hartness says. An avid gardener and a former chair of the Asheville Humane Society, Hartness adds that she wanted to do something local that would benefit the whole community. She envisions the large playground being surrounded by trees that will dampen highway noise and create a kind of woodsy wonderland for children who frolic there.
"I want to encourage businesses to join in and help me," Hartness says. She explains that she'd like to concentrate her efforts on the Highway 74 corridor in Fairview. The Greenville, S.C., native reports that she received enthusiastic cooperation from the school principal and support from several businesses that donated materials and gave her a discount on the holly, magnolia and arborvitae trees, such as Carolina Mulch Plus and Jesse Israel and Sons Nursery and Gardens.
And, of course, there were the volunteers, including 14-year-old Colin Gibson, who remarked: "It will be so much nicer for kids play out here and look at rows of pretty green trees instead of cars zooming past on the highway. Plus, I had fun and learned how to properly plant a tree that will probably live for 100 or more years. That's pretty cool."
Gibson was joined by a host of boys from Cub Scout Pack 75, who, Hartness says, were called on by the troop's Senior Patrol Leader and high school student R.J. Trantham. Hartness says she was astounded by the turnout of helpers. Her husband, Ben Truslow, adds, "For many years to come, each time one of these boys travel past this school, they'll be able to watch the legacy they helped create grow tall, [and] their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy and benefit from the few hours of work they put in planting trees on a Saturday morning."
Just 941 more trees to go, Hartness says. She asks that those who'd like to help plant more (or donate a tree) call her at 230-1223.
— Margaret Williams, contributing editor
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