Audio story: Plant a Tree, Get a Beer

Audio story by Aaron Bolton/Murphy News Service

Get a beer for free by planting a tree

By Aaron Bolton/Murphy News Service

The Emerald Ash Borer beetle has taken its toll since arriving in Minnesota’s Ash trees in 2009. In the face of this ongoing threat, Minneapolis’ 40,000 ash trees have met their match. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is in the second year of its eight-year plan replacing those trees. A new non-profit is teaming up with a local brewery to offer up a free beer to those who adopt replacement trees rooting down in our parks and neighborhoods.

Brewing a Better Forest is continuing its soft-launch from the fall hanging tags on trees alerting people that a free beer is waiting for them at 612 Brew, their current brewing partner, if they adopt and water a tree. A quick Google search will land you at their website, and you can find newly planted trees on an interactive map, adopt, name and even grow attached.

“If you go and water a tree for a year, you will probably never forget that you watered that tree, and you might even go back to that tree year after year,” said Joshua Plunkett, one of seven co-founders, and export certification officer with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “That’s the idea.”

Getting a variety of young trees into the ground isn’t an issue, but when it comes to giving this year’s 5,000 fresh transplants the much-needed 20 gallons of water weekly seems daunting alone. Let alone the 30,000 trees still set to come in the next six years.

The seven arborists ranging from educators at the University of Minnesota to tree care specialists came together about a year and a half ago. Over a few beers, they hashed out how to aid the replacement process. After the idea was hatched, the group quickly partnered with fellow non-profit People for Parks for funding, and the park and recreation board to get an idea of where trees were being planted.

After 612 Brew saw what Brewing a Better Forest was doing, they quickly joined the cause. “They help promote us and awareness for trees,” Plunkett said. “It’s just good to know these people care about their environment and their communities.”

The invasive green beetle has left a path of destruction over the last six years. The Emerald Ash Borer lays its eggs on tree bark. Before long the hatched larva burrows into the phloem, the key space between the inner bark and inner tissues of the tree said Plunkett, who has been battling the beetle since its arrival. As the larva feeds on the tree’s inner tissues, the zigzag like grooves it leaves behind prevents that ash tree from getting nutrients and water through out its body, putting it onto the fast track to death.

“The trees we are looking at as part of the replacement plan may or may not have Emerald Ash Borer in them, but they would eventually,” said Philip Potyondy, sustainable forestry coordinator for the park and recreation board and co-founder of Brewing a Better Forest.

“They can kill a tree in an entire year. So that tree is going to die from Emerald Ash Borer,” Plunkett said. “That tree represents a lot of problems actually.” The aftermath of an infected tree is waiting to fall on cars, houses “or do what ever.” “There’s a lot of responsibility with these trees,” Plunkett said.

Brewing a Better Forest is help tackle this environmental issue one beer at a time. “Remember, water a tree and get a beer for free,” Plunkett said as he chuckled.

Reporter Aaron Bolton is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.




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