CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Rows of trees, ready to find new homes, line Veterans Memorial Parkway in Cape Coral. Starting Oct. 7 , 275 people will be loading up their cars to take a native Florida tree home to plant.
Russ Ringland, the executive director of Future Forestry is teaming up with Arbor Day Foundation, a national nonprofit, and SAGESURE Insurance, for the event.
They supplied the trees to give away, and with the help of high-school and college volunteers, they will be planting 50 more on Veteran' Memorial Parkway to show people what that process looks like.
"We invite everyone to come and get a tree, please, because I don't have a place to keep these later - they gotta go," Ringland humorously urges.
His devotion to this event reflects the organization's long-term goal: to restore Cape Coral's natural tree canopy. Future Forestry has been working for more than two decades to bring trees back to the community after so much was cleared away in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Ringland emphasized the importance of planting native trees, stating, "The native trees are a home to native birds and plants and animals. And they provide shade, which we need."
Arbor Day Foundation and SAGESURE Insurance have played a big part in making this event possible. Ringland said the trees being given away are a part of restoration efforts following the damage caused by Hurricane Ian a year ago.
Ringland believes that these tree giveaways create lasting impressions, not just on the environment but also on the memories and experiences of the people who take part in them.
"When I have parents and kids come back to me years later and say, 'Yeah, I remember exactly where we planted, and those trees are looking good now,' they learn that they can have an influence over their environment. he explained. "They can make a positive change in just a few short hours."
Future Forestry says the tree giveaway will be handed out from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday.