Coffey: ‘Some things you do for the future’


In celebration of Arbor Day, the village of Greenfield Tree Commission will be giving Douglas fir seedlings to those who stop by the City Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 24.

According to a post on the village’s Facebook page, those interested can drive through General Hull Place, located behind the City Building, where they’ll find tree commission chairman Ron Coffey, his green Chevy S-10 pickup truck and the fir seedlings.

Coffey told The Times-Gazette he will follow social distancing guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining a six-foot distance, while community members pick up their trees.

There are about 150 seedlings, Coffey said, and community members who stop by will receive five seedlings. The seedlings are free, but will be given away on a first-come first-served basis. If there are any remaining seedlings, Coffey said he’d be willing to deliver trees to families and individuals who may not wish or be able to leave their homes after 2 p.m.

“We’re trying to encourage people to understand the value of trees: how they clean up the atmosphere and create oxygen, create a canopy to cool things down when it’s hot, and add beauty — there’s a lot of good things that can be said for trees,” Coffey said.

The trees were originally ordered for first graders in the Greenfield Exempted Village School District (GEVSD). Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin told The Times-Gazette the village ordered the seedlings back in January before the COVID-19 outbreak became a major concern for the area.

Typically, Wilkin would travel between Rainsboro, South Salem and Greenfield to visit GEVSD’s elementary schools as well as Greenfield’s nursing homes to celebrate Arbor Day with first graders and senior citizens. For past Arbor Days, Wilkin read tree-related stories before the students received their seedlings; at the nursing homes, Wilkin and other officials planted trees.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, Wilkin said he and other officials wanted to be cautious, but when the tree commission suggested giving the trees to members of the community, Wilkin agreed it was a great idea.

“We’re in a tough time, so why not plant a tree? You’ll remember this tree as the COVID-19 tree,” Wilkin said. “I always tell the kids, ‘If you go home today and plant this tree, I want you to go out every year during this time of year and take a picture next to your tree, that way you can get pictures of you and the tree growing. When you graduate, that tree should be anywhere from 12 to 16 feet tall.’ The kids love that story; they love that sense of hope that if they do stick at it and do good work, the tree will grow along with them.”

The seedlings may not look like much — Coffey said past seedlings reminded him of sticks with roots — but once they take root, they can become much more.

When Coffey was 5 or 6, he and his father planted a maple tree in their yard, which he said is still standing, even though his parents have since passed.

“Some things you do for now, and some things you do for the future. Planting a tree is one of those things that’s more of an investment in the future,” Coffey said. “We thought, ‘If [the seedlings] come here and we can’t really get them around to the schools like we usually do, they’ll probably just dry up and die.’ This gives them a chance to live.”

Hillsboro City Schools handed out seedlings, which were purchased by the city of Hillsboro, to students last week. Superintendent Tim Davis and Hillsboro officials couldn’t be reached for further comment.

The Greenfield City Building is located at 300 Jefferson St.

Those who would like to become involved with the Greenfield Tree Commission should attend the commission’s meetings once they resume, Coffey said. Before the stay-at-home order, meetings were typically held in council chambers on the third Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m.

For further information or to request a seedling delivery, call the Village of Greenfield at 937-981-3500.

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570

In a scene from Arbor Day 2015, then-Greenfield Council Chair and Village of Greenfield Tree Commission member Betty Jackman presents Buckskin first-graders with redbud seedlings. a scene from Arbor Day 2015, then-Greenfield Council Chair and Village of Greenfield Tree Commission member Betty Jackman presents Buckskin first-graders with redbud seedlings. Times-Gazette file photo
Greenfield, Hillsboro celebrate Arbor Day

By McKenzie Caldwell

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