Tree-planting program thriving in the area

Published 6:33 am Saturday, January 9, 2021

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By Van Wade


There is quite a superb project going on with the Orange Lions Club these days,

In late 2019, long-time Lions’ member Ralph Thon shared with the club his idea about starting a large-scale tree-planting program in Orange County.

In 2020, the Lions Club, along with the Orange County Master Gardeners and other volunteers planted several hundred pecan and satsuma trees that were carefully selected for our local environment.

They will be busy Saturday planting trees across the area.

“A few years back, I started going around churches and talking to pastors about putting trees on their grounds and it just grew from there,” said Thon. “People started to show so much interest and we were able to plant the trees in city and county locations such as city parks and county parks and schools. It’s been a fun project.”

Some of the satsumas already produced fruit this past season, however, over the next 10-15 years all of them should be active in producing fruit and nuts. These trees have been planted in parks, church grounds, and school grounds. The goal being that anyone can access the food produced in coming years. Not only will these trees help feed people, but everyone should hopefully see them developing our tree population and improving the beauty of our town.

Today (Saturday), the groups are planting a combination of pecan and mayhaw trees around Orange County. There will be 200 trees planted by five teams in one day.

“The pecan trees are wonderful and we special order them just for our area,” said Thon, who has been a Lions member since 1990. “Some types of pecan trees do not fair well in our climate here but these do. The pecans that these trees can produce are amazing. When they fall, they will be there for the public. And believe me, they will be able to produce a lot of pecan pies.”

In addition to the Lions Club and the Master Gardeners, the project is made possible through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and International Paper.

Later this spring, the project will be planting additional satsuma trees.

Thon made a request to the board that the program’s official name would be the “Lion Larry David Memorial Tree Program”. David, who passed away not too long ago, was one of the all-time great Lions Club members and was so dedicated to the community and county.

“Larry was one of my best buds and I and so many people miss him each and every day, he was a blessing to our community and to the Lions,” said Thon.

“We spent so many great times up at the Kerrville Lions Camp, cutting down trees and we did that together for 29 years,” said Thon. “We got to the point where we were cutting down 20 trees apiece and then a lot more people got involved, it was wonderful.”

Thon is just glad that the Lions can help the community and spruce things up.

“It’s a great project for sure and so many countless volunteers are involved,” said Thon. “There is plenty of work involved in it but the benefits are tremendous and we all get a lot out of it and so does the community.”