11,600 trees find homes in county
May 28, 2021
And just like that, 11,600 tree seedlings were scattered across Carlton County.
The giant tree giveaway late last week was organized to honor the Pine Knot's status as the most outstanding weekly newspaper in the state and Sappi's many awards for being one of the most sustainable pulp and paper mills in the world. It was also a way of giving back to the world, as both companies need trees to keep their businesses going.
With the help of Sappi, which paid for the seedlings, and Upper Lakes Foods, which transported them from Hayward, Wisconsin, a truckload of assorted seedlings - Norway (or red) pine, jack pine and black spruce - arrived at the Pine Knot News Thursday morning.
Nearly four dozen local businesses and organizations then jumped on board and distributed the trees to customers and anyone else who walked through their doors and asked for one or more of the tiny trees.
The trees were a hot commodity, many businesses said, reporting that they gave away 100 or more in less time than it took Paul Bunyan to chop down one of the giant trees he specialized in.
One thousand trees went to Cloquet elementary school students. Another 1,000 went to the Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle Boy Scouts troop. Churchill students Brynn and Vaunn Jerde planted a Norway pine and a black spruce at home. John Badger got seedlings to plant at home and around the area; so did Trish King, and many others. For many, it was a gesture of love and goodwill to future generations, who they hope will enjoy the trees long after they're gone, as some trees, like the Norway pine, can live for more than 400 years.
Organizer and Pine Knot advertising director Ivan Hohnstadt said last week's event was even more successful than he dreamed of. It was also a lot of hard work, but he's already pondering a repeat affair in the future, as this one was so popular.
"If I ever do this again, I'll be sure to order bundles of trees, not cases of individual seedlings," Hohnstadt said after seven hours of sorting and organizing. "Counting 7,000 individual trees was incredibly time consuming. Counting bundles of 20 or 25 at a time went much faster."
The giveaway wrapped up Tuesday, when Carlton Lions members gave away the last 500 black spruce seedlings at the Minnesota Wilderness playoff game.
Those who have not yet planted their seedlings need to keep the dirt plugs moist and cool, and hurry up and plant to give the trees the best chance of a long and healthy life.