Dig deeper with Forestry volunteers this Arbor Day

Published on November 04, 2021

people planting trees in a row

Did you know that the City of Fort Worth has a tree farm? It’s true, and we could not let Arbor Day pass by without mentioning the volunteers who donate their time supporting the Park & Recreation Forestry Division and the Rolling Hills Tree Farm.

In the 2021 fiscal year, more than 1,690 volunteers contributed 6,687 service hours to maintaining the farm and assist with community programs.

The Rolling Hills Tree Farm, located in south Fort Worth, is 71 acres and grows 30-35 species of native and adapted trees for distribution through two primary programs – the Community Tree Planting Program and the Tree Grant Program.

The goal of both programs is to provide trees at no cost to areas of Fort Worth that are either lacking in tree canopy or planting for succession in areas with aging trees.

At any time, there are more than 15,000 trees under cultivation at the farm, and nearly all of them are started from seeds collected locally. It’s believed that there are fewer than five municipal tree farms in the entire nation with the size and scope of Fort Worth’s. With the scale of the tree farm, the thousands of trees that require tending and a staff of five employees, volunteers are crucial to Fort Worth’s tree growing operation.

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers perform approximately 90% of seed starting and transplanting trees into larger containers or into growing fields for ball-and-burlap harvest. They also help with watering, weeding, fertilizing and organizing plant material.

While Forestry employees only plant trees on city-owned property, volunteers are needed to plant trees that are provided to other community organizations such as schools.

“Volunteers are really the heart of the Community Tree Planting Program. Those over 6,000 volunteer hours contribute tremendously to the operations of the tree farm,” said Natural Scientist Supervisor Hannah Johnson. “We couldn’t do it without their dedication.”

Many corporate groups, schools, community organizations and individuals have been seen helping out at the tree farm. The Forestry team also has Citizen Foresters, volunteers extensively trained in urban forestry. They are able to help assist in more technical areas such as pruning, site assessments and seed collection.

Fort Worth is Tree City USA

The City of Fort Worth has a longstanding relationship with trees dating back to the original charter in 1873. Fort Worth is the oldest and longest running Tree City USA in Texas, having earned the designation every year since 1978.

While Arbor Day is a spring observance in most parts of the country, Fort Worth and Texas celebrate on the first Friday in November.

To celebrate, Fort Worth is hosting a tree-themed geocaching adventure beginning Nov. 5. Swag will be available at each cache location, which will be in place and maintained through Jan. 3, 2022. Special awards will be available for those willing to solve a few puzzles and go the extra mile. To learn more, view the event page. 

Have question about Fort Worth trees or volunteer opportunities with Forestry? Email Hannah Johnson or call 817-392-7452.



Photo: Forestry volunteers transplant trees into growing fields for ball-and-burlap harvest.



Get articles like this in your inbox. Subscribe to City News.