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Recycled trees help organization's efforts
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Martinsville Street Construction Supervisor Donald “Moose” Martens holds up one of the Christmas trees that was dropped off Friday at the recycling site at the City Annex at 300 Clearview Drive. (Bulletin photos by Ben R. Williams)
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Monday, December 31, 2012

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Christmas has come and gone, but live Christmas trees can keep giving through recycling.

Now in its 12th year, Martinsville’s live Christmas tree recycling program makes it easier than ever to put discarded trees to good use.

According to city Assistant Public Works Director Jeff Joyce, the best way to recycle a Christmas tree is to drop it off at the marked site at the City Annex at 300 Clearview Drive.

City residents also can arrange to have their trees picked up from the curb in front of their homes by calling 403-5419.

The trees will be ground into mulch, which will be used by Gateway Streetscape Foundation in its local landscaping projects, Joyce said.

People dropping off trees should “take all the trimmings off of the trees,” including lights, ornaments, tinsel and tree stands, he said. Also, if the stump of the tree is wrapped in plastic, the plastic should be removed so it will not jam or clog the limb grinder the city uses to chip the trees into mulch.

The Clearview site has already received some trees, although Joyce said that “we’ll get the bulk of them the first week after the new year.” The collection lasts roughly until mid-January, he added.

Lizz Stanley, executive director of Gateway Streetscape Foundation, said that organization maintains roughly 60 sites around Martinsville and Henry County, so it puts the mulch to good use.

“At this time of year,” she said, “we prune and mulch every site we have if they need it ... and most of them do.”

The mulch helps feed the trees and flowers her organization plants in the community.

“Any chipped bark and wood makes very good mulch, hardwood as well as softwood,” Stanley said. “It’s all good because it puts the nutrients back in the soil. ... By doing this, we don’t have to fertilize as much. It’s natural fertilizer.”

The trees are mulched at the City Annex by Roy Prillaman, manager of the Martinsville Prison Farm, according to Stanley. Gateway Streetscape also maintains a greenhouse at the site.

“We’re lucky to have that place,” Stanley said.

Stanley and assistant Donna Martin estimate that about 1,000 trees were donated for recycling last year. That worked out to roughly 12 or 13 truckloads of mulch, Stanley said.

On Friday, Stanley and Martin were planting pansies at one of their sites on the corner of West Church Street and West Market Street. The pansies were planted in three “sweeps” of yellow, blue and white.

The mulch that Stanley and Martin spread around the flowers came from last year’s recycled Christmas trees.

Although Gateway Streetscape’s projects take a lot of hard work, the results are worth it.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people have come by here today and said, ‘Wow, great job, that’s beautiful,’” Stanley said.


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