When it comes to the state-led program to bring new trees to the Southwood Park neighborhood, Katie Zuber isn’t shy about letting you know her feelings.
“I think it’s great, just absolutely great,” the 38-year-old Southwood Park resident said. “I got (a tree), my Dad got (a tree). We’re just now getting back to normal from the Borer Ash problem (that killed several trees in her neighborhood), so I think this is a wonderful program.”
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has spent the last few months helping neighborhoods around the state replenish and rejuvenate their tree stock by selling young trees to neighborhood associations around Indiana at a discounted rate, according to Southwood Park’s Sierah Barnhardt, who helped lead the effort to get her neighborhood new plants from the state.
Barnhardt, a 32-year-old freelance photographer, has been helping lead the Southwood Park association for the last seven years, and the last two she’s served as the group’s Beautification Chair.
She noted that the state’s program has been extremely beneficial to her group’s continued efforts to keep her environs looking good – and green.
While the retail price for young trees can range anywhere from $100 to $500 (and a Fort Wayne city program recently sold similar trees for $50 each), the DNR program sold her association 100 trees for only about $100.
The one-to-two year-old seedlings included several varieties of oaks – black, white, chestnut and red – as well as strong black hickory trees, Barnhardt said.
The trees were shipped from the DNR to the association, and then stored at a couple different homes in the neighborhood. Word went out among the neighborhood members that they were available for pick-up, and then people came and got the trees at no cost. Their neighborhood association dues covered any cost.
The seedlings came in 10-gallon white buckets with instructions included for planting and caring for the young plants.
Barnhardt said the program not only keeps her area beautiful, but maintains the historic beauty of her neighborhood.
“This neighborhood is over 100 years old,” Barnhardt said, “We’re definitely a neighborhood that loves our trees. And we want to make sure we maintain the beauty and charm of our neighborhood,” she said.
Many of the trees already have been planted in front and back yards throughout the neighborhood, including one in Zuber’s yard. The program was so popular, Barnhardt said, her association even chose to open it up to residents in surrounding areas on the south side of town.
“It’s important for us to offer our residents the opportunity to beautify their own yards,” Barnhardt noted, “and that way, we can keep the ‘Wood’ in Southwood Park.”
Carrie Lumpp Harris, another Southwood Park resident, agreed that the multitude of towering trees in her area give her home and environment a uniqueness and beauty you don’t often see in other areas of the city.
“I’ve lived here for 35 years,” said Harris, a 50-year-old hair stylist and salon owner. “And I love the uniqueness of the homes and all the tall, old trees.”
Zuber, who serves as director of the Allen County Voter Registration Office, agreed.
“They kind of add to the whole atmosphere of the neighborhood,” Zuber noted, “without all the trees, we wouldn’t be Southwood Park.