On Nov. 9, a wagonload of 37 trees and an eager group of Carman Mennonite Church members armed with spades, including a massive tree spade powered by a tractor, showed up in the church parking lot. A plan to enhance the parking lot, provide shelter from the winds and care for the environment had been developed years ago and now was about to take root.
The congregation chose maple and basswood trees to frame the church property on three sides.
“We chose to do this not only for protection and beauty, but also as a way of looking after this small piece of the world where we come to nurture our faith,” said pastor Bob Pauls. “It’s a small expression and effort to extend care to God’s creation as well.”
Located on the north end of Main Street in Carman, the church feels the project will also benefit the community by offering a more attractive view to visitors and passers-by.
The fiery colours of the Amur maple trees in fall will be spectacular,” said Eugene Peters, one of the organizers, as he heaved a shovelful of dirt.
Manitoba Hydro’s Forest Enhancement Program provided about half of the funding for the project. The program, which is open to non-profit, non-governmental organizations, provides funding for tree-planting activities, forest education and innovative forest projects throughout the province.
Program chair Shane Mailey said that Carman Mennonite’s application satisfied all the criteria to be eligible. “The application had very positive volunteer contributions, very sound layout and tree selection plan, along with an excellent maintenance plan,” he said.
Thirty-seven Manitoba churches have completed projects across the province since the program began in 1995.
“This program is a practical, made-in-Manitoba approach to recognize the loss of forest cover that results from construction of Manitoba Hydro’s transmission lines, generating stations, substations and gas operations,” said Mailey. “The response to the program has been excellent. . . . To date, approximately 105,000 trees have been planted and counting.”