Today is Arbor Day! Again this year the Rice County Forestry committee will be giving away free trees. The Rice County Forestry committee owns a tree planter that they rent to land owners so they can plant wind breaks and other conservation projects. The funds are used to maintain the tree planter and replace it when necessary. Typically there are extra funds not needed in the budget. Therefore the Rice County Forestry committee purchase tree seedlings and give them away on Arbor Day.

You can pick up free trees this afternoon from 3:00 to 5:30 pm at our sponsor locations. They include Wholesale Tire in Faribault, the Lonsdale Feed Mill in Lonsdale and Professional Pride Realty right on Highway 3 in Northfield. The Rice County Master Gardeners will be there to give you information on how to plant and care for your trees. All the tree species are native to Minnesota or well adapted to our harsh climate. The trees will be given away on a "first come first served" basis.

Arbor Day as a formal holiday began in 1872 in Nebraska. Julis Sterling Morton was a pioneer from Detroit that moved to the Nebraska Territory in 1854. He and his wife Caroline were lovers of nature and their home in Nebraska was quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. Morton was a journalist writing about agriculture. He used that forum to spread his enthusiasm for trees. In addition other pioneers in Nebraska missed their trees and needed them for windbreaks, fuel, building materials, and shade from the hot prairie sun.

In 1872 the State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by Julius Sterling Morton "to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit." By 1920 more than 45 states were celebrating Arbor Day. Today Arbor Day is Celebrated in all fifty states the last Friday of April. So, plant a tree on Arbor Day!