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What’s a Mobile Plant Lab?

October 2, 2009

“Come plant with us!” reads a sign on the back of Kent Parks’ shiny, new 16-foot trailer.  The Mobile Tree Planting Lab made its debut this month during National Public Lands Days at Lake Fenwick Park on Kent’s west hill. The City was able to purchase it with a matching grant from Target, who has been part of volunteer forest restoration projects there for the past two years.  A week of corporate Public Lands Day projects at the park culminated Saturday with an event open to all community volunteers. This was also the first event under the new Green Kent Partnership.

mobileplantlab

“Lake Fenwick Park has been a model for what we hope to do in all our parklands,” explained Parks Director Jeff Watling.  “Since spring 2007, roughly 539 volunteers have contributed over 2,274 hours to help restore and maintain the natural balance of healthy native trees and shrubs there. Many return again and again.  They have become stewards in every sense of the word.”

The new trailer is outfitted inside with hooks to organize rakes and shovels, keeping ample floor space available for rolling bins and even plants. But it’s the outside that thrills Watling.  “Photos of ten of our most popular native trees and shrubs are featured on the sides of the trailer, with their common name, Latin name and even the phonetic pronunciation.  So this will be an educational tool staff can use at events and even at schools for our Youth Tree Education Program.”

“Volunteers plant native trees at nearly every park improvement event,” Watling continued.  “Our 12-foot volunteer trailer holds enough tools for about 50 volunteers.  But we sometimes have up to 150 volunteers signing up for community events.  And occasionally, we may have a volunteer project in a west hill park and another group on the same day across town on the east hill.  The solution was more tools and more storage. We are grateful to Target for its support.”

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