The mood was anything but sour Wednesday during the ceremonial planting of the last of eight citrus trees in the Harold E. Jennings Wellness Park in Brunswick.
A joint project between Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, the Golden Isles Fund for Trees, landscaper Coastal Greenery and the city of Brunswick, the trees were purchased with a grant from the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, said Lea King-Badyna, head of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful.
During a short ceremony, Julie Martin, city commissioner, praised King-Badyna’s fruitful effort to bring the orange and grapefruit trees to the wellness park, situated off Gloucester Street and U.S. Highway 17 inside Howard Coffin Park.
“I want to thank Lea for leading the charge,” Martin told a group of supporters and school children gathered for the occasion. “I love the collaboration of this. It’s going to be so much fun to watch these trees grow.”
Jeffrey Johns, owner of the Brunswick-based landscaping company Coastal Greenery, said the trees — which are already three years old — will take two to three years to begin fruiting and eight to 10 years to reach maturity.
His company acquired the trees and planted them in the park. Originally, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful applied for a $1,500 Edible Orchard Grant from its state affiliate, but was only awarded a partial amount of $1,385, King-Badyna said. Seeing the need for additional funding, Coastal Greenery donated the remaining expenses and offered its services.
“Any time we can help the community in anyway possible — through greenery — that’s our goal,” Johns said. “I think this is phenomenal. Giving back to our community is part of our mission.”
Following the ceremonial golden-shovel planting, Martin and Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey unveiled a sign designating the newly minted Brunswick Community Orchard.
Miriam Lancaster with the nonprofit Golden Isles Fund for Trees then led an educational talk about citrus trees for the roughly two dozen youngsters from the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia and Children in Action Sports Club.
Despite the unrelenting presences of gnats, the children intently listened to Lancaster as she explained the characteristics of the trees and how they are different from other nonfruiting trees.
Although the fund for trees has been involved in other tree plantings around Glynn County, “this is our first fruit tree planting,” Lancaster said, adding the occasion was “delightful.”
The planting coincided with Georgia Arbor Week, aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of trees and natural spaces.