WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTO | RE-TREE
Mature trees are treasures worth preserving. A pragmatic tree farmer may disagree, noting that trees can be grown like any fruit or vegetable. But more romantic souls recognize the irreplaceable beauty and intrinsic value in majestic trees. And science concurs that established trees are an asset to any property.
The benefits of expansive trees are exponential. They have a larger cooling effect and filter more runoff than smaller trees, and they significantly reduce erosion. They also have a more substantial positive carbon impact than smaller trees, possibly mitigating climate change on a broader scale.
Saving mature trees on construction, expansion, and renovation project sites is the worthwhile endeavor of Re-Tree in Pontiac. The start-up is on the “cutting edge” of salvaging trees and other plant material by finding them new homes via a digital marketplace.
The mission at Re-Tree is to protect the life and integrity of existing mature trees and shrubs by replacing, replanting, and repurposing them so they will continue to thrive in a new location. The hope is that these unique, sustainable nursery products will have a positive impact on the planet, people, and communities, according to company president Dennise Vidosh.
“We are like eBay for repurposed sustainable trees,” Vidosh says.
The secret to the company’s success is twofold:
Re-Tree has created a digital marketplace to find new homes across the country for this unique, sustainable plant material. They have an online wholesale tree catalog with photographs and a description of the plant’s condition and location. The website is user-friendly, and fees for uploading and listing a tree are nominal.
Historically, finding a new home for mature trees has been problematic. Even when a builder was offering to give away a “free” tree from a job site, removal was expensive and time sensitive. The digital marketplace platform allows for greater exposure. The goal is to reduce sales turnover time, especially for time-sensitive material, and move the tree from point A (the seller’s property) to point B (the buyer’s property). The company can transplant trees locally or provide a list of qualified tree transplanting contractors on a national scale upon request.
The company uses innovative technology – an air spade – to unearth the trees. The tool uses compressed air to blow soil away from the roots, allowing workers to capture and maintain roughly 85 percent of the root system. The transplant shock is significantly reduced, and the natural transfer of energy, moisture, and minerals is maintained.
In total, Re-Tree has repurposed and sold over $100,000 total in trees, but the value goes beyond the dollar figure for Vidosh.
“Trees can live to be over 100 years old. And there is value in that time. Trees can’t be manufactured,” she stated.
Vidosh grew up working with her father, Don Vidosh Sr., describing him as a pioneer in the landscape construction industry and contributor of creative solutions to preserving heritage trees on job sites.
She now endeavors to change the way the industry looks at protecting and preserving trees. She would like to create more awareness about the value of time and encourage moving these heritage trees or leaving them in place and building around them instead of cutting them down.
“It is really exciting that people are becoming aware of the value of mature trees. Even in large companies, we are witnessing a reprogramming of the way we develop our job sites and realizing that there are solutions other than clear-cutting,” Vidosh stated.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of excitement among my clients as well, both landscape architects and contractors, who are excited about preserving unique mature trees. Even more, they’re happy to have access to material that is unique and sustainable through the digital marketplace.”
Vidosh is also pleased to counter, in a small way, the environmental devastation happening in the world today. Acres of forests continue to be decimated by the minute at the hands of loggers and wildfires.
While Michigan is among the top states where annual net growth outpaces removals, tree loss tends to overrun the growth of new plantings nationwide. And while trees have existed on earth for 370 million years, playing a small role in preserving them is a worthwhile endeavor for Re-Tree and regular folk everywhere.
Green Acres Tree Farm, Inc. & Re-Tree LLC
850 Featherstone Road
Pontiac Mi 48342