County residents responding to Green Legacy challenges

Free delivery part of plan to get 160,000 seedlings into the ground

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Local residents are responding to the challenge of helping the county’s Green Legacy program to thrive.

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the County of Wellington cancelled all upcoming Green Legacy Municipal Tree Day events this spring, instead offering a contact-free home delivery service for tree orders.

With 160,000 seedings earmarked for planting through tree days, large scale volunteer plantings and local conservation authorities, the challenge now is getting those trees in the ground.

“The county’s goal is to distribute all the seedlings that were grown for distribution this season,” said Green Legacy program manager Rob Johnson.

“These trees are currently in our cooler and can only remain there until the end of May. We do not have the resources or space to put them all into pots so we want to find homes for these trees.”

Johnson said county residents are stepping up to the plate.

Anne Ossowski, who works for Green Legacy each spring and fall, pulls orders in the cooler to be delivered.

“When the county announced that municipal tree days were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that we were offering contact-free home delivery of trees, we received over 400 orders in the first few days,” he noted.

Johnson said Green Legacy staff have received several phone calls and emails not only to inquire about the trees and getting orders, “but also to say how happy residents are to have opportunity to get trees and have them delivered right to their home.

“The annual Green Legacy program always receives a lot of positive community attention,” he added.

“This year, with so many of our residents in isolation, having the opportunity to get out on their properties with their families and plant trees seems to be a welcome distraction from what is going on in the world.”

However Johnson said it’s a daunting task to keep up tree planting efforts without the massive amount of labour supplied by volunteers and the program’s community partners.

“Normally, local schools assist us with larger plantings that landowners would not normally be able to do on their own,” he explained.

“These Grade 7 and 8 students usually plant about 10,000 to 15,000 trees each year.  Conservation Authorities usually receive 25,000 to 30,000 trees a year that are used in their own planting programs.

“The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) is our largest conservation authority and has an amazing annual planting program.

“Unfortunately, like many other events and programs, the GRCA had to cancel this program for 2020. Many of the trees that were ordered by local conservation authorities will be redistributed this year.  Green Legacy staff are working hard to fulfill orders and have them delivered as quickly as possible.”

Johnson said the program is really missing the assistance of more than 50 students who help out with daily tasks at Green Legacy’s two nurseries.

“Students help put orders together and transplant seedlings. This year, staff are working hard while maintaining social distancing.  This means we have fewer staff working at the same time,” said Johnson.

“Tasks have taken longer than usual, but we’re working through these changes and challenges.  Contact-free delivering is also new for us.

“We ask residents to be patient while we go through all the orders, package them and deliver them.” He added Green Legacy staff will notify each resident when their order is ready for delivery.

Green Legacy has distributed over 2.5 million trees in the county since 2004.

County residents who have not yet ordered trees, will be able to place orders online until April 30. Trees are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information visit