Keokuk County Master Gardeners & Expo Tree Project

Tree Planting

In August, Keokuk County Master Gardener President, Shirley Conkity, met with members of the Keokuk County Expo Fair Board to propose a partnership to better the Expo Fairgrounds. Many trees on the Expo Fairgrounds have been impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer, and need to be removed. This will eliminate nearly all shade trees on the fairgrounds. Master Gardeners and the Fair Board agreed that this project needed to be completed, and were wanting to replace the affected trees with healthier shade trees. In total, these organizations decided to plant 68 new trees throughout the 33-acre property.
Alliant Energy and Trees Forever have a program called “Branching Out.” Katharinna Bain, Keokuk County Extension Director, joined the project efforts by applying for a grant through the Branching Out program. Branching Out supports community plantings, by providing financial support and technical expertise. This fall, Branching Out gave more than $125,000 in grants to assist Iowa communities and groups with 34 tree-planting projects. The partnership between Master Gardeners and the Keokuk County Expo Fair Board received $8,000.00 for this tree-planting project. 

On October 20th, 23 helping hands gathered to plant 38 trees on the Keokuk County Expo Fairgrounds. These volunteers ranged from Master Gardeners, Expo Fair Board members, Extension staff, 4-Hers, and the Lancaster Christian Youth Group. The remaining 30 trees are scheduled to be planted this coming spring, while the dead trees are expected to be removed later this winter.

Master Gardeners next step with this project is labeling the different variety of trees that have been planted. The Keokuk County Extension Office implements many youth STEM camps throughout the year, while Master Gardeners hosts horticulture workshops for the public as well. These trees can serve as an educational workshop in many different ways within our community. “This tree project offers many benefits to our community,” states Katharinna Bain. “Not only will this add shade protection for our visitors and livestock, it adds beautification to our fairgrounds while also serving as an educational piece to youth and community members.” 
This project has had amazing support from different areas of this community, and many “THANKS” are needed! Thank you to the newest greenhouse in Keokuk County; James Family Greenhouse, Cory Rozenboom for the hole digging, Sigourney Vision Ag for the assistance in watering, and for everyone who helped plant and mulch; we thank you!

Contact the Keokuk County Extension Office for future tree planting plans and workshops at (641) 622-2680.

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