With hope for the future

Local students help plant Mulberry trees on floodplain

Dave Anderson | April 18, 2022
Students pose with shovels after planting trees

Students from Broken Ground School pose with teacher Ellen Kenny after planting mulberry trees on Merrimack River Floodplain. (Photo: Dave Anderson)

With just one last remaining mature Mulberry tree clinging precariously to the steep north bank of the Merrimack River in Concord, Forest Society staff have long-wished to plant replacements at the Merrimack River Outdoor Education & Conservation Area.

Students work with shovels to begin planting of mulberry trees
Students begin planting the mulberry trees by digging with shovels.
Red Mulberry fruits attract numerous songbirds, squirrels, chipmunks, foxes and more wildlife each year in early summer when fruits ripen in late June.

Red Mulberry trees are native to river floodplains and riparian habitats. 

bare roots of the nursery stock
The bare roots of one of the mulberry trees.
Local teacher and nature photographer Ellen Kenny, along with seven students from Broken Ground Elementary School, a public school in Concord, joined Forest Society Senior Director of Education Dave Anderson and Reservation Stewardship & Engagement Director Carrie Deegan — along with volunteer land steward Dave Heuss — to begin planting a total of eight young Mulberry trees further back from the river bank.   

On Friday, April 15, a near-perfect afternoon in advance of Arbor Day on April 29, students helped to dig wide holes to place bare-root nursery stock in a mix of soil with cow manure and compost mix.

Each tree was planted carefully to protect tender roots and well-watered. 

Trees were each staked to prevent wind damage until the roots begin to grow and anchor saplings to establish wind resistance. 

Trees were mulched with bark mulch to conserve and retain moisture. 

Finally, the tender (and tasty) young nursery stock were each fenced aggressively with tall wire cages to prevent browsing or damage by deer which are common on the floodplain.  

Dave Anderson and a student use a tool to dig a hole for a tree.
Senior Direction of Education Dave Anderson with one of the Broken Ground students. (Photo: Ellen Kenny)
Students enthusiastically removed sod and roots and stockpiled soil on a tarp to be replaced around the tree — planted to proper depth to match the root collar at ground height. 


Students at work planting trees
Students hard at work planting trees on the floodplain.

Staff and volunteer Dave Heuss brought water and will need to continue to water the trees for several weeks as they become established on the well-drained sandy soil of the floodplain.  

We discussed how the students might be able to return in subsequent seasons and years to visit "their" mulberry trees and how local wildlife will find sweet sustenance annually from the trees as they mature and continue to flower and fruit for years to come.

A total of eight new red mulberry trees were planted over the course of two different days on the floodplain as part of a grant-funded program with generous financial support from Benjamin Couch Trust, in addition to annual support from Northeast Delta Dental and Merrimack County Savings Bank.


Completed planting, Volunteer Dave Heuss at Merrimack River Floodplain
Once planted, trees were staked and fenced. Volunteer Land Steward Dave Heuss (pictured) will continue to water the trees.