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Going N.U.T.S. for Trees!

Perhaps you have seen stories in the news recently about Cuyahoga County’s efforts to begin to restore its declining tree canopy – which now sits at 37% and falling. Through participation in Cuyahoga SWCD’s Native Urban Tree Starters (N.U.T.S.) program, students throughout Cuyahoga County will have the opportunity to contribute to these important efforts.

The N.U.T.S. program aims to restore tree canopy in Cuyahoga County by involving students in the processes of collecting, germinating, and sprouting tree seeds and nuts, and then planting these trees in the community.

Almost all aspects of the program are customizable to meet classroom needs, and are available to schools in Cuyahoga County free of charge. Additionally, many aspects of the program can be correlated to state education standards through the use of the Project Learning Tree curriculum.

Tree Seed/Nut Collection

Students collect acorns, buckeyes, walnuts, hickory nuts and other native tree seeds in the fall. They may be collected from school grounds, community parks, tree lawns, the students’ own yards, etc. Cuyahoga SWCD will provide a collection kit that includes bags, tree seed/nut identification guides, and collecting recommendations. Once collected, seeds and nuts are sorted and either returned to Cuyahoga SWCD for germination preparation/treatment, or stored at the school to undergo germination preparation.

Germination Preparation

Many tree seeds and nuts require cold stratification and other treatments in order to germinate. This process may be completed by Cuyahoga SWCD, or by properly trained partner schools, in which case Cuyahoga SWCD will provide supplies and instruction.

Sprouting & Grow-out

Once the collected seeds and nuts have been properly prepared for germination, they will be planted in nursery bags or similar containers. Trees may need to be transplanted to a larger container once germination is assured and roots become established. Participating schools may choose from the following options:

  • Plant and care for the seedlings on site in a green house, classroom or other approved on-site location.
  • Plant the seedlings for care at an off-site partner location.

Cuyahoga SWCD will provide supplies, instruction and follow-up.

Plant Trees!

Trees will be ready to plant between one year and 18 months following seed collection. Trees may be planted on school grounds or other approved locations in the community, potentially including parks, private property and ecological restoration sites. Cuyahoga SWCD will provide assistance in finding suitable planting locations, planting instruction and oversight, tools, and guidance in caring for your newly planted trees.

To find out more about the program and how your school can get involved, visit the N.U.T.S. web page or email Jared Bartley at jbartley@cuyahogaswcd.org.

Blog Author: Jared Bartley, Rocky River Watershed Program Manager

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