This article was featured in the 2024 Winter Newsletter by, Kim Buker-Local Community member.

The smell is sickening.  The 15 acres of farm field surrounding our house in Carthage, NY  is getting its annual shower of liquid manure.   How much of this manure is seeping into our well?   Thoughts of HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms) and greenhouse gas production from our neighbor’s large-scale dairy farm are filling my head.   Why are we allowing this to happen?   What can we do to help this situation? 

Scrolling through my email, I see the NYSDEC Weekly Digest Bulletin. The Regenerate NY Forestry Cost Share Grant Program is advertised.   “The purpose of this grant program is to support the regeneration of forests so they may continue to deliver vital services such as mitigating climate change, protecting water quality, and supporting the economy.”   This was the answer!    

I was certainly intimidated by applying for a grant.  After learning of the required planting density, I would be planting 4500 trees. What a daunting task, what a challenge.  I can do this.  I told everyone about my goal as a means to hold myself accountable.  I attended a webinar for more information, there were over 100 participants who were also interested.   The details were explained and the hosts were very helpful and encouraging.   My goals listed on my grant application were biodiversity and carbon sequestration.  I now had a clear vision.  I planned to plant approximately 1500 trees on 5 acres for 3 consecutive years.   I would make individual wire-welded cages for all the hardwood trees to protect them from deer browse.   I’d repurpose cardboard to use for weed suppression.  With this plan, I could envision the farm field changing into a forest.   

Excitement filled me when I learned that I was awarded the grant.  From that time, July 2021 until the first scheduled plant date in late April 2022, my job was to learn as much as I could about different tree species and the best planting strategy.  I reached out to the local DEC office, Jefferson and Lewis County Soil and Water Districts, local tree farmers, and Cornell Cooperative Extensions. Everyone was so generous and supportive.   

Each year, loyal volunteers, mostly the Eco Kids from Carthage Middle School and The Sustainability Club from the high school and some friends enjoy digging, pounding stakes, and planting trees.  Even though the work is tough, we are filled with joy.  To date, we have planted a little over 3000 trees.   The final planting is expected to take place this coming April.  I welcome help so if anyone wants to volunteer please contact me at 315 222 3946 or email

It’s so rewarding to watch the trees grow.  The summer job of maintaining the trees, mowing, and weeding does not feel like a job at all.  When I am nurturing the trees, they are nurturing me.  Reciprocity is so important in any relationship, especially our relationship with our life-sustaining planet. 


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