Free trees Saturday at Kmart back parking lot

The site for this year’s free tree giveaway has moved to the back parking lot of the Kmart store, announced Jacqueline Kozak of the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council.

Free trees will be distributed at the annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new location behind Kmart where the Kukui Grove farmers market takes place each Monday.

Tents will be set up with parking in close proximity to the giveaway to allow patrons ease in loading the free trees.

Kozak said more than 1,500 native plants are available to distribution and the Arbor Day festivities will also include educational booths, invasive species bounty program, keiki activities, and presentations among its schedule of events.

Among the native species available, people can select from plants for their home gardens including a‘ali‘i, alahe‘e, hala, lama, noni, loulu, milo, kamani, kou, ohi‘a lehua and Kaua‘i’s endemic Munroidendrom racemosum.

These plants are grown by Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping, the NTBG and Kukui‘ula. Additionally, free compost will be available along with species-specific care instructions.

The Kahulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program funds the program through a grant via the Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development and the program has been able to expand over the past several years.

Kozak estimated that more than 400 people attended the event last year despite the rainy weather.

Kaua‘i Landscaping Industry Council, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council, Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping, Kukui‘Ula Development Co. and the Kaua‘i Outdoor Circle have teamed up to bring free trees and forest education to families.

Participants will also receive a gift bag and have the opportunity to take a trip down the “Tree Trail,” an alley between educational booths on the way to getting free native plants.

Kozak said to enrich the educational component of the event, organizers are offering this distribution as a “learn and earn” program where naturalists from different organizations will be on hand to answer questions as well as offer information about topics ranging from forest birds, invasive species, horticultural tips, endangered plants and watershed health.

Following the learning of Arbor Day facts, participants can earn an extra “Tree Token” which can be redeemed for an additional plant.

Additionally, Steelgrass Farms is offering cacao seedlings to the first 50 people who stop by their educational booth staffed by the Lydgate family.

Carol Yotsuda of the Garden Island Arts Council will have her Van Go! artists available to provide instruction and materials for creative keiki and family activities, which for this event, is oriented toward plant life.

More extra plants can be obtained by turning in a weed in the invasive species bounty program. Qualifying species for bounty include kahili ginger, Australian tree fern and fiddlewood.

To round out the event, a new feature, “Talking Story About Trees,” will take place under a tent which will host a variety of presentations during the three-hour event.

For more information, call Kozak at 346-5390, or visit the Web site www.arbordayhawaii.org/events/kauai

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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