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Apprentices Visit the Newport Tree Conservancy

Newport Tree Conservancy

12 Registered Apprentices who work for RINLA member companies met up with Rachel Holbert, Program Director, and Joe Verstandig, Living Collections Manager, of the Newport Tree Conservancy this week in Morton Park for an educational workshop of tree identification. We also spent some time learning about the history of the organization, which has come to be the sole caregiver of every tree throughout the city of Newport. We were then tasked with the responsibility of mulching a patch of aging Kwanzan cherry trees in need of some nourishment, along with some nearby specimens with the leftover mulch.  

Registered Apprentices mulching the Kwanzan cherries at Morton Park, Newport, RI on March 5, 2022.

We followed the pair back to their headquarters, a greenhouse on the property of Roger’s High School, tucked in the back and facing Ballard Park. Joe Verstandig led the apprentices in a detailed tour of the premises, showcasing raised beds he had built himself for growing root stock trees for use in grafting as well as the bed of mulch in which he shields trees for Newport’s giveaway they have every year, through the winter. His tour was followed by a step-by-step presentation on how to graft a specimen tree to root stock by carefully splicing the two together. The Apprentices were then given some golden curl weeping willow trimmings to take home with them and replant.

Joe Verstandig demonstrating tree grafting to the Apprentices

Written by Mason Billings

Photographs by Jordan Miller