Base cultivates food sources, friendship, at Arbor Day event

  • Published
  • By Caroline Clauson
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Wright-Patterson Air Force Base planted trees and grew partnerships April 26, celebrating 25 years as a Tree City USA during the week of Arbor Day.

Students from Fairborn High School’s Environmental Club and foresters from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources teamed up with the base to add a food forest to the ecosystem of native plants and trees at the Wright Brothers Memorial that the collaboration has created over six years.

“We have put together a plan to create a sustainable tree canopy at Wright Memorial, and this is one of the last sections of the plantings,” said Danielle Trevino, a biological scientist for the 88th Civil Engineer Group. “We work hard to maintain and enhance our urban forest to continue earning this annual recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation. This Arbor Day tree planting is one of many ways we work to beautify the installation. We do this for the benefit of the environment and the people that live and work at WPAFB. Students from Fairborn High School are always happy to come out and help us with Arbor Day, and we were thrilled to have them out this year to help.”

Students planted Paw Paw, Pecan, Persimmon and Oak trees as well as a selection of blueberry and cranberry bushes, all plants with edible yields.

Before planting trees, Col. Charles Barkhurst, 88th Air Base Wing vice commander of the, read the Arbor Day proclamation to highlight the purpose of the national holiday.

“This proclamation is fun for me because I was born in Nebraska, where Arbor Day originated. We appreciate you guys for not just going through school but putting your time and energy into something that's important,” Barkhurst said. “Thanks for making the space better for us here at the Air Force base.”

Wright-Patterson’s partnership with ODNR foresters at the Wright Brothers Memorial began years ago when urban forester Wendi Van Buren took a lunch break to eat her sandwich in the spot one day and recognized tree potential there. Since then, beech canopy and flowering dogwoods, white flowering trees, Wright Brothers sugar maples, bald cypress trees and native groundcover, and native understory species, pollinator friendly trees and now a food forest have found a home at the location.

“I certainly hope all of you come back here and eat the food that we planted,” Van Buren told the students.

ODNR director and Dayton-native Mary Mertz got her hands muddy with the students as well.

“We have lots of tree plantings, but this is my favorite place,” said Mertz. “This is my heart. Thank you to the base. Thank you for your partnership. What we do is try to make Ohio greener, healthier, better. We want to make it all as beautiful and conservation-oriented as possible, but the most important part is connecting nature with people. And that's what today's event is about. So thank you for allowing us to work with you to make these spaces more beautiful and special.”