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Community puts down roots during springtime project

By Kayleigh Rahn
It seems as though the world burst into color overnight. Brilliant springtime blooms and bright green leaves have covered our region; however, one particular blooming beauty has caught the attention of a few residents.

Thanks to a Tuscola Rotary Club grant, a descendent of an original Johnny Appleseed tree was planted on the east side of North Ward Elementary School. The April 16 planting was one of 102 Appleseed trees planted throughout Illinois to commemorate the state’s bicentennial.

The young tree is genetically identical to the last remaining tree planted by John Chapman, who is better known as Johnny Appleseed. The original tree is found on Harvey Farm in Ohio.

“The farm where the tree is located is still owned by the same family whole homesteaded the land in the early 1800s,” according to the tree documentation. “The Harvey Farm was a favorite stop for Chapman as he made his way through Ohio, establishing orchards, along with planting and selling apple trees to the new homesteaders.”

With permission from the Johnny Appleseed Society, Museum and Education Center in Urbana, Ohio, John Edgar has grafted and grown the young trees at his nursery in Wisconsin.

“All of Chapman’s trees were grown from seed,” the documentation says. “One of the best ways to assure this special tree is genetically identical to the tree on the Harvey Farm is by grafting.”

The nursery uses two forms of grafting: Whip and Tongue, which is done in the spring, and Bud or T-Bud, which is done in the summer. The sapplings grow for up to two years before they are distributed to be planted.

The Illinois Bicentennial committee has challenged each Illinois county to plant a Johnny Appleseed tree, and Douglas County’s will be dedicated later this month.

However, the new fruit tree, that will be used as an educational opportunity for decades to come, was only one of nearly 200 trees planted throughout the county this spring.

Through the Rotary grant, the local club provided more than a dozen trees to be planted by the city and more than 180 for Walnut Point State Park. The $6,000 project started as a challenge provided by Rotary International for each club to plant a tree per member. Tuscola club president Kris Clodfelder took that idea and ran.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, May 9 edition of The Tuscola Journal.


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