April projects boost tree-planting campaign

Members of Landisville Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania planted a native species demonstration orchard and extended their memorial garden in April. — Chris Fretz/Mennonite Men Members of Landisville Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania planted a native species demonstration orchard and extended their memorial garden in April. — Chris Fretz/Mennonite Men

Anabaptist communities are planting trees this spring, with more than 2,250 planted in April alone. Congregations, farmers, men’s groups, and schools have partnered with Mennonite Men to plant trees as part of Mennonite Men’s campaign, JoinTrees, with the goal of planting 1 million trees by 2030.

Steve Thomas, Mennonite Men U.S. coordinator and a certified arborist, has encouraged JoinTrees partners to be creative in their planting projects. The results have been intergenerational events at a variety of sites, including tree plantings at churches, farms and retreat centers and along the Indiana Toll Road.

In addition to the planting events, Mennonite Men’s board of directors approved $8,247 for five grants to congregations, farms and environmental education projects to assist them in tree-planting projects.

One of the grants helped finance tree planting at Full Circle Farm in Three Rivers, Mich., where farm owners Gabe and Bethany Bauman-Baker enlisted the help of students from Bethany Christian School in Goshen, Ind. Students helped them plant 632 trees to create a fast-growing windbreak between their field and the conventionally farmed fields beside them and to increase carbon capture.

“We have three goals with this campaign to restore God’s earth,” said Steve Thomas. “Doing our part to care for God’s creation, we aim to mitigate global warming, serve climate justice and sustain biodiversity.

“We continue to receive inquiries about how to participate in our campaign. People are seeking to join this campaign by offering land to plant, making contributions to fund tree planting and helping to plant seedlings. We are excited by the strong, positive response across the church.”

To date, 9,151 trees have been planted through the JoinTrees campaign.

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