It's the great tree giveaway, 2.0
April 29, 2022
Last year Pine Knot News staff celebrated being recognized as the most outstanding weekly newspaper in the Land of 10,000 Lakes by giving away 10,000 tree seedlings. In January, the Minnesota Newspaper Association again presented its top prize to the Pine Knot. This year, newspaper staff decided to repeat last year's 10,000 tree giveaway this Memorial Day weekend with Trees 2.0.
This year's "tree giveaway 2.0" is launching on May 27, a day when local businesses and organizations will be giving away a grand total of 10,000 pine seedlings to anyone who promises to give them a good home.
Sponsored by the Pine Knot News and Sappi, it's a way of giving back. It's a celebration of Sappi's numerous awards for being one of the most sustainable paper mills in the world, and of the newspaper's many awards. It's also a belated celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day on a date that's more conducive to planting trees in the Northland. Coincidentally, it's also Memorial Day weekend, a good time to plant a tree in memory of a loved one.
Pine Knot advertising and marketing director Ivan Hohnstadt - who came up with the idea of the tree giveaway - said last year's event was so popular, it was a no-brainer to do it again in 2022.
He shared a story about Pat and Beth Schoen, who took some trees and planted them with their grandkids, who named the trees Daisy and Oscar. Since last year, the trees (not the grandkids) have quadrupled in height. They planted the two trees in 5-gallon buckets but plan to find them a permanent home this spring.
"Nearly every time I see them they give me an update on the status of the trees," Hohnstadt said. "They survived the winter and they're looking forward to planting some Jack pine this spring to create a windbreak around their property. Other folks are looking forward to planting Christmas trees (black spruce) to share with their yet-to-be-born grandkids decades from now."
Getting the trees is a group effort.
Hohnstadt gets the trees from PRT, a tree nursery in Canada that grows trees for the Carlton County Land Department.
Dan Menor and Chris Martland from Sappi worked with Hohnstadt, and the local company is again picking up the tab for the trees.
Upper Lakes Foods will put their logistics department to work coordinating the pickup and delivery of the trees from the cold storage facility in Hayward to Cloquet.
And lots of Pine Knot advertisers and others will help distribute and/or plant the trees, with a city planting event also a possibility, now that Cloquet has been named a Tree City again.
Hohnstadt shared a saying he has taken to heart: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."
Partners in paper, trees
A particularly punny person could call it a "treemendous" idea for a local newspaper and a local industry leader - both creating products made from wood - to partner in an effort to grow more trees.
At the same time, it also seemed possible that the citizens of a town also known as the city of wood - and in a county which was once the white pine capital of the world - would jump at the chance to plant a few thousand trees, maybe one, two or three at a time.
The seedling options for the giveaway are good for Carlton County.
"Although 10,000 trees seems like a lot, in the scheme of things it's the minimum order required by PRT," Hohnstadt said. "We're small potatoes compared to their regular forest industry customers. So, our choices were limited to the tree seedlings that were left over. This year that means black spruce and Jack pine."
"On the bright side, Jack pine thrives in dry soil, while black spruce does well in wetter soils. So everyone who wants to should be able to plant a tree."
Last year four dozen businesses, organizations and groups participated in the tree giveaway. After the success of last year's promotion Hohnstadt expects even greater participation in Trees 2.0.
Trees are good
Readers should keep an eye out for tree giveaway posters at local businesses, and look for a tree symbol in ads in this newspaper. If an advertisement has a tree in it, that means the advertiser will have seedlings available on May 27.
People will have seven days to plant their trees, which will make the journey from Canada to Wisconsin completely frozen. They will be thawed to 36 degrees before they make the trip to Carlton County.
The tree giveaway is also a way to draw customers to local businesses, some of whom were impacted by the pandemic and could use more local shoppers.
"Again, this year, we're giving them to advertisers that have supported us in the past, not asking them to spend any more money but thanking them for their past business," Hohnstadt said. "I hope they will continue to be regular advertisers. I'm also planning to reach out to local service organizations and youth groups who might like to take on a tree planting activity.
"The final reason for the great tree giveaway is the simplest. It's like the folks at Magnolia Café say in Carlton: 'Do Good.'
"I think this is also a way to differentiate the Pine Knot News even more. We can make decisions based on what feels right, not what some corporate formula dictates. It's just one small way that we can make a difference in the communities we serve. This promotion gets a lot of people working together to do good," he said. "I don't see a downside to this at all."