Featured, Local News

Rutland Blooms returns after Covid-forced pause

Volunteers plant flowering trees, including cherry, pear, horse chestnut

A small army of Rutland Blooms volunteers beautified Rutland’s northern gateway Thursday, May 20, planting flowering trees along a roughly half-mile section of North Main Street.

“It felt great after a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19 to get out there with other volunteers and plant trees that will have a lasting, beautifying impact,” said Steve Costello, a Green Mountain Power vice president and founder of Rutland Blooms.

Funded through donations from nearly 20 individuals and businesses, the project included 27 flowering pear, cherry, Japanese lilac, horse chestnut and other species.

By Steve Costello
Rutland Blooms volunteers plant a new tree along the roadside on North Main Street.

“These trees will provide incredible beauty to that gateway,” City Forester Tim Smith said. “And the generosity of donors and volunteers makes it all possible.”

Stafford Technical Center students in the Forestry and Natural Resources Management Program, led by Mark Raishart, helped dig holes for the trees, with GE Aviation and GMP volunteers planting under Smith’s supervision.

“It’s great real-world field experience for the students, demonstrates the connection between people and the natural environment, and helps connect the kids to the community, which is invaluable,” Raishart said. “The students enjoy the work, and we value making a real contribution to the city.”

GMP created Rutland Blooms in 2013, initially focusing on planting flowers to beautify the city, and quickly pivoted to tree planting, especially low-growing flowering species. Working with Smith, his predecessor Dave Schneider, and several other key partners including GE Aviation, the program has planted hundreds of trees along city gateways, parks, and streets.

“Rutland Blooms is a great way to beautify the city of Rutland,” said GE Aviation’s Linda Miller, who coordinates their volunteers. “It’s wonderful to see the flowering trees when you are driving around in spring. It also benefits the birds and bees and provides shade on the sidewalks in summer. I love helping out with this project yearly.”

Funders of Rutland Blooms include GMP, GE, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Vermont Electric Power Company, Casella Waste Systems, Vaillancourt Tree Experts, Mary Moran, Heritage Family Credit Union, Steve and Jane Costello, EDF Renewables, Omya, MKF Properties, John and Paula Valente, O’Brien Shortle Reynolds & Sabotka PC, New England Tree Experts, Rich Carlson, and Joe and Peg Kraus.

“Their support and the collaboration with the city, donors, and volunteers is a great example of what makes Rutland a great place to live,” Costello said. “With no overhead or bureaucracy, the program connects funders, workers and experts like Tim and Dave to beautify one corner of the city at a time. It’s all about renewal, this year especially, since we couldn’t get together to plant trees last year — Tim and Dave had to do all the work by themselves!”

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