Every December 25th, families gather around the Christmas tree and unwrap presents. It is after the Christmas celebrations that Cape Fear Botanical Garden receives its gifts. Every year, members of the community bring their live Christmas trees to the garden where PWC, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, grinds them into mulch. This valuable fresh mulch is then given to the garden for use on their many flower beds and paths. This is great for the local landfills, the environment and is a wonderful “green gift” for the garden. This year, the Grinding of the Greens takes place on Jan. 11.
George Quigley serves on the Board of Directors at the garden and is a volunteer there as well. “On the given day, PWC brings chippers and lines them up to grind the trees into small chips,” said Quigley. “It is noisy and exciting. We have hot chocolate and donuts — the event has a fun carnival feel to it.”
This Grinding of the Greens is particularly special because it is the 20th anniversary. For the past 19 years PWC has been working with the Cape Fear Botanical Garden to organize the Grinding of the Greens. This year the City of Fayetteville and Duke Progress Energy are also partners in this community event. Starting shortly after Christmas, city residents can put their undecorated live Christmas trees out on the curb for pick up. Undecorated trees should be placed by the curb for pickup like normal trash. Residents who do not get city trash pick up can bring their trees to the Garden’s fire tower any time before grinding day on Jan 11.
There are a few things that need to be done to a tree before it can be picked up. Remove all ornaments and lights from the tree. The Garden is only interested in mulch from trees, not broken glass shards. Before the tree makes it to the shredder it is important to make sure there are no forgotten ornaments — for the safety of everyone involved.
Recycling Christmas trees has many benefits for the entire community. Firstly, this gift to the garden provides mulch for use on their flower beds and on the paths that wind through the garden. Secondly, it disposes of all the Christmas trees families no longer need. It keeps all of the recyclable wood out of the landfills and returns it to nature, which is great for the environment. The process also leaves an incredible smell of fresh pine in the garden after everything has been turned to mulch, which is enjoyable for everyone who works there, the volunteers at the grinding and anyone who visits the gardens.
Mulch, is a layer of any material placed over soil. This covering can serve multiple purposes. In this case, it is aesthetically appealing. It also retains water and conserves moisture in the soil below it. This is great for plants and means less water goes to waste through evaporation when plants are watered. As the plant matter in mulch naturally decomposes it also serves as a fertilizer for the soil it rests upon.
“I’m glad it is not disposed of in a regular landfill,” said Quigley. “The trees take up a lot of space and they break down more slowly in a place with so much methane. This saves room in the landfills and puts the end product to good use.”
Thanks to the generosity of PWC and its partners in Grinding of the Greens the beautiful plants at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden will receive all of these benefits from unwanted Christmas trees.
Find out more about this program and other programs at Cape Fear Botanical Garden at www.capefearbg.org. Learn more about PWC and the many ways it promotes energy conservation in the community at www.faypwc.com.
Photo: Each year, Cape Fear Botanical Garden and PWC team up to recycle Christmas Trees at the Grinding of the Greens.