February 9th was the coldest day of the year. But that did not stop the 150 volunteers that had signed up for the 12th Annual Tree Planting Competition (TPC). For 12 years, Houston Area Urban Forestry Council (HAUFC) has been organizing its annual tree planting contest which brings together arborists and local citizens to enrich communities with trees in a competitive and enjoyable way. Through this event, HAUFC in collaboration with corporate sponsors and other stakeholders planted a total of 11,500 trees, which were maintained and watered for at least 2 growing seasons.
This year the competition was held at the Buffalo Run Park in Missouri City. In 2017, over 2000 trees were planted on one side of the park’s lake. This year the goal was to complete the other side. With the forecast predicting a bitter cold day (by Houston standards) with a maximum of 45 degrees, we were doubtful if enough people would show up to achieve it. But guess what? The goal was met! Despite the cold, 12 teams showed up and planted 1500 trees in less than 2 hours. Native trees such as pines, oaks, red maples, and elms between 3 to 5 gallons were planted.
For some of the contestants this event is already a tradition. The team from Yellowstone Landscape has been participating in since the very first competition, 2007. They have won first place in the Professional category every single year. This year they not only won, but also broke their record time of 13 minutes and 35 seconds by planting 100 trees in only 12 minutes and 17 seconds.
First place for each of the other two categories, Amateur and Student went to Houston Knanaya Catholic Society (HKCS) and Girl Scout troop 19056, respectively. Both teams participated in the event for the first time. Their excitement was evident from the huge smiles and words such as these from HKCS, “Our team was really excited to help out…we want Missouri City to look green and pretty. Our entire community got excited when they heard that we received the 1st place. We all felt that we did something worthwhile.”
Thank you to all the volunteers (team members, judges, cooks, servers and sponsors*) for braving the cold and showing up to contribute towards a valuable long-term benefit to our local park and community.
*Yolanda Ford (Mayor) and Daryl Smith (Fort Bend County Constable) Missouri City, Texas A&M Forest Service, HAUFC, Living Earth, CenterPoint Energy, Trees for Houston.