03/22/04 — Duplin exchanges cans for trees

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Duplin exchanges cans for trees

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 22, 2004 1:56 PM

KENANSVILLE -- About 60 people traded used soda cans for free trees Friday at Kenan Park.

The Arbor Day tree give-away is about six years old, says Teresa Quinn with Keep America Beautiful. It's a joint project of the Duplin Keep America Beautiful and the state Forestry Service.

"At first we just gave the trees away," said Ms. Quinn. "But last year, we figured we ought to let them give something, too."

Arbor Day always comes up the first Friday after March 15 in North Carolina. It's a different day in some states, and nationally, it's the first Friday after April 15.

Arbor means "tree" in Latin. Arbor Day is an American phenomenon. The first one took place on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska.

It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska journalist and politician who worked to improve agricultural techniques throughout the United States when he served as President Grover Cleveland's secretary of agriculture. But his most important legacy is Arbor Day.

More than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska in 1872 in response to a resolution to encourage settlers and homesteaders in that prairie state to plant trees on the largely treeless plains.

The trees given Friday were loblolly and long-leaf pines, bald cypress, swamp chestnut oak, persimmons, river birches and dogwoods.

Around 11:30 a.m., the Duplin group had finished giving away the trees. Ms. Quinn said it started with about 1,500 trees.

The Boy Scouts and Word of Faith Church picked up some of the trees for their projects.

But Ms. Quinn said most of the people who came were individual citizens.

"Lots of individuals came wanting to plant some trees," she said. "One lady said she's celebrating the equinox of the moon this weekend."