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Geeking Out Over Westfield’s Oldest Trees

Some of Hamilton County’s oldest, most interesting living residents need a little help finding their voice. That idea is at the heart of Westfield Green Together’s tree-centric program proposal to host an official Hamilton County Bicentennial program.

The Bicentennial Commission invited nonprofit organizations across the county to connect to the upcoming 200th anniversary in 2023. As an incentive, it offered micro-grants of up to $500 to organizations that applied to participate on or before August 1, 2022.

Westfield Green Together President Sarah Gillim sets up a trellis at the organization's Sharing Garden at the Wandering Peacock. All produce grown there is provided to those in need in the community.

Bobby Kimball, a member of Westfield Green Together, helped develop their program idea, which combines conservation and history. She says the organization would like to gather contestants from Washington Township to identify the oldest trees and weave stories about the trees that correspond to their planting age.

If “Westfield’s Oldest Citizens” gets the green light to be called a Bicentennial program, the grassroots team will start spreading the word to find old trees to feature. Once they identify leafy candidates, in winter or early spring 2023, representatives will use a tool that estimates a tree’s age by measuring the trunk with an extendable tape measure that includes calculations for converting circumference to diameter and radius. They will then factor in the specific species to estimate the age of the tree. (There is no core sampling or any kind of harmful testing to estimate the age.)

“People may be surprised that a tree in their yard is older than they think it is,” Kimball says. “White and red oaks, and sycamores tend to be the oldest, and the occasional tulip tree or beech tree. These old treasures can be upwards of 150-200 years old,” Kimball says. (Check out the largest, oldest trees in Indiana!)

Westfield Green Together promotes environmental stewardship during the Lantern Days celebration of Westfield's founding in 1834.

Due to development, Indiana is no longer home to some of the oldest trees ever recorded, but programs like Westfield’s Oldest Citizens can draw attention to the living legends that still stand and help preserve them and other trees like them.

The plan is for the oldest trees to get the star treatment with their own photoshoot, with the tree portraits exhibited in a prominent city location such as Grand Junction Plaza. Banners will show off each of the oldest contestants while also educating Plaza visitors about the natural history of the trees in our Hamilton County.

Most of the fanfare will take place in June, Washington Township’s Bicentennial showcase month. Kimball envisions a program that incorporates partners outside of Westfield Green Together, like local acting troupes.

“We can add fictional stories about famous residents living at the time of the tree's maturity who may have sat under the tree or passed by it,” she says. Participating actors could bring these quiet giants to life by presenting a monologue and allowing people to interact with them in an entertaining way.

The Westfield Green Together idea is just one example of how nonprofits are marrying their cause or mission to the Bicentennial. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 30 programs will take place throughout 2023.

Westfield Green Together is a small nonprofit focused on promoting environmentally sustainable practices, with a particular interest in native planting and invasive plant removal for Westfield and Hamilton County parks.

We are so excited to see these creative ideas come to life in 2023! Sign up for the Bicentennial Newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming events.

The Hamilton County Bicentennial is proudly supported by Duke Energy, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County Tourism Inc., and Hamilton County Historical Society.

Inside 13-acre Asa Bales Park, you can find a Westfield Green Together garden featuring plants native to Indiana.

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