A History of Arbor Day

Today I have another guest post from my grandmother.  She wanted to share some information about Arbor Day, which originated in her home state of Nebraska. Since she is a gardener,  trees have a special place in her heart.  In fact, she and my Grandfather planted a tree on their farm in honor of each of their granddaughters when they were  born.  We love to go back to the farm now as adults and see “our tree” grown big and robust.

In 1854 J Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska. At that time there were virtually no trees in the area, and he and other pioneers realized trees were needed to act as windbreaks, to stabilize the soil and to provide shade from the sun.  Morton planted a wide variety of trees around his own home –now known as Arbor Lodge– in Nebraska City, and he encouraged other early settlers to do the same.

On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed to the Nebraska state legislature that a day for planting trees be observed as a state holiday each year. This became known as Arbor Day.  Morton believed, “Since each generation takes the earth only as trustees, we ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have consumed”. And so today his vision continues.

In Nebraska, Arbor Day is a state holiday celebrated on the last Friday of April when  tree  planting events and educational activities  are scheduled throughout the state.  School children plant trees in their school yard, and towns and cities plant trees in their parks and along road ways. In our little Nebraska town, stores give free seedling trees to their customers on Arbor Day.

Following Nebraska’s lead, all states now have an official Arbor Day celebrated at a time of year when the area weather is appropriate for planting trees.

Arbor Day is more than just a holiday.  It is a promise to the earth.  For more information on Arbor Day in your areas visit arborday.org/celebrate:


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