Over the next 10 years, she means to plant 1,000 trees. Hartness got things started on Dec. 20, when she planted 59 of them around the Fairview Elementary School playground, with help from friends and volunteers (including Cub Scout Pack 602 and Boy Scout Troop 75).
"I wanted to do something to celebrate trees [and] what they bring to our lives, and honor their intrinsic beauty," says Hartness. An avid gardener and former chair of the Asheville Humane Society, Hartness says she wanted to do something local that would benefit the whole community.
That's the kind of mission that sparks a get-it-done response from the Scouts. When Hartness approached den mother Golda Trantham for help with the tree-planting scheme, she turned it over to her son R.J., the senior patrol leader for Troop 75 in Fairview. "We are a boy-led troop," Trantham explains. So her 16-year-old son took the tree branch and ran with it: The A.C. Reynolds High School junior got his scoutmaster's approval and then called in the troops.
Four boys from Cub Scout Pack 602 and about 10 from Troop 75 -- including R.J. -- showed up to help Hartness on Dec. 20, says Trantham. She was impressed with how well the boys all worked together, despite their amazement at how deep the tree holes needed to be. The boys made a sort of game out of their work, finding creative ways to avoid using rulers to measure the depth of the holes, notes Trantham. "They said they had fun, [and] when you have to do manual labor, that's a good thing."
The Scouts, she continues, "like to find projects that the boys can look back on in 20 years and say, 'I did this.'" The tree-planting campaign, she observes, will have a lasting positive impact on the community.
That dovetails perfectly with Hartness' vision: surrounding large playgrounds with trees to dampen highway noise and create a kind of woodsy wonderland for frolicking kids. And she plans to do more such projects in the near future.
"I want to encourage businesses to join in and help me," notes Hartness, adding that she'd like to concentrate her efforts on the Highway 74 corridor in Fairview. The Greenville, S.C., native says she received enthusiastic cooperation from Fairview Elementary's principal, and several local businesses -- including Carolina Mulch Plus and Jesse Israel & Sons Nursery -- donated materials and gave her a discount on the holly, magnolia and arborvitae trees.
And then, of course, there were the volunteers. "It will be so much nicer for kids to play out here and look at rows of pretty green trees instead of cars zooming past on the highway," notes 14-year-old Colin Gibson. "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."
Such enthusiasm, reflected in the strong volunteer turnout, astounded Hartness, who may get further assistance from the Scouts when it comes time to plant more trees.
Hartness' husband, Ben Truslow, is also involved. "For many years to come, each time one of these boys travels past this school, they'll be able to watch the legacy they helped create grow tall," he points out. "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."
Meanwhile, Hartness has 941 more trees to go -- and she's eager to keep going.
Interested in helping plant trees (or donating one)? Contact Hartness at 230-1223 (e-mail: email@example.com).
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