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Fruit, shade trees planted around Fort Macleod

Town of Fort Macleod employees Kris Goodfellow and Sjeord Holwerda help plant a tree in Centennial Park.

Fort Macleod got a little greener last week thanks to the work of some community organizations.

Fruit and shade trees were planted at five locations in town by members of the environment committee with help from the Town of Fort Macleod.

“The environment committee wants the community to understand the benefits of planting trees that beautify and rejuvenate our parks,” member Ronda Reach said. “They build biodiversity while cleaning our air. Trees provide shade and natural cool during the summer months, and they provide habitats for birds.”

The tree-planting project on May 19 had its start in two community assessments carried out by the Fort Macleod Community Health Champions.

The assessments done in the past four years indicated Fort Macleod would benefit from more UV protection awareness as well as an improved physical environment.

UV protection is one method of reducing the incidence of cancer

As a start, The Fort Macleod Community Health Champions directed $5,000 from Alberta’s cancer prevention fund to the playground committee for a shade structure at Centennial Park.

Steve Hoglund moves a tree into position for planting in Centennial park while fellow Town of Fort Macleod employees Kris Goodfellow and Thys Holwerda assist.

“Trees were identified as a long term solution for UV protection in our public spaces,” Reach added. “The Fort Macleod Environment Committee also support this work to enhance our public green spaces and are pleased to work with the town to identify areas for new trees to be planted.”

The trees planted last week were funded by the Community Health Champions’ cancer prevention funds, Alberta Recreation and Parks’ ChooseWell program, and a Fortis Alberta grant to the Town of Fort Macleod.

Apple and saskatoon trees were planted last week adjacent to the community garden, at Centennial Park and in the green space at Garrison Estates.

Green ash, American elm and Burr oak trees were planted at the Scout Hall, the Triangle Park, Centennial Park and Garrison Estates.

Reach said elm trees were chosen to produce good shade, and ash trees were introduced as they are hardy for the area and to provide a diversity of tree species.

The 10 fruit trees were chosen to introduce apples and saskatoons as a healthy and accessible food source in Fort Macleod.

“The Community Health Champions will co-ordinate harvesting apple trees in years to come as well potentially a community-wide fruit harvest to reduce food waste and share how this healthy food can be processed,” Reach said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were ordered to shelter in place, the environment committee planned to have students from W.A. Day school help plant.

Reach praised the Town of Fort Macleod staff who provided equipment and manpower for the planting day.

More trees funded from the Fortis grant will be planted in the fall, but the locations have not yet been determined.

“The environment committee would like at that time to also include an opportunity for residents to order trees for their own yards,” Reach said. “Instructions on how to plant and care for the trees will be included.”

“By inviting residents to plant trees we can add to our natural canopy throughout the community for years to come.”

“The environment committee’s long term plan is to grow a strong succession of trees for decades to come.”

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