Stratford group aims to plant 2,000 native trees and shrubs this year

A group in Stratford is laying down roots, with a new initiative to help the environment.

Close to 700 native trees and shrubs were purchased at the ReLeaf Stratford Tree and Shrub sale at Avondale Church Saturday.

The sold-out event is part of broader initiative from the Stratford and Area Master Gardeners aimed at supporting local biodiversity by encouraging the planting of native plants.

“Various tree species have fallen to disease over the years and they have to be replaced,” said Don Farwell, coordinator with Stratford and Area Master Gardeners.

Farwell said the region is suffering from a shortage of native trees that help feed and house native species in the area – and it’s up to the community to resolve the issue.

“They’re a really important part of the food chain for native animals, so we want to plant more and more native trees,” said Farwell. “We want to get the message out.”

Trees and shrubs purchased Saturday range from compact New Jersey Teas that can be planted in just about any backyard to Basswoods, which can grow as tall as 80 feet.

“I'm anxious about the climate emergency that we’re in,” said Shauna Leis, who was at the sale on Saturday. “Planting trees, especially natives, gives me hope for the future.”

Farwell says ReLeaf Stratford plans to plant more than 2,000 native trees throughout the Stratford area by the end of the year.

Volunteers have already ordered 400 trees and shrubs ahead of a public planting scheduled for mid May.

Farwell also hope to hold another tree sale in the fall.