Milford's massive tree giveaway honors city's long-time environmental advocate

The Milford Tree Giveaway is being held in honor of long-time Milford tree advocate Kate Orrecchio, who died in February at age 84.

The Milford Tree Giveaway is being held in honor of long-time Milford tree advocate Kate Orrecchio, who died in February at age 84.

Contributed photo

MILFORD — Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy, the city is hoping to take a step to begin undoing the damage caused by Sandy and 2020’s Hurricane Isaias.

To celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, on April 24, Milford is giving away 500 trees to Milford residents.

Jeremy Grant, Milford’s open space and sustainability manager, said that one of the main reasons for the tree giveaway is the number of trees that were blown down or damaged by the two storms.

“We are really excited it’s happening, and people are excited to get a tree and plant it with their family and watch it grow,” Grant said.

He added that given the program’s success, he hoped to have another giveaway in the future.

The city had been wanting to plant more trees throughout the city, and the benefit to residents is that it makes their yards more beautiful, he said. The trees were purchased with funds from blight fees that the city has accumulated, he said.

“There was no taxpayer money used,” he said.

In addition to making Milford a little greener, and 500 yards a little prettier, Grant said the event is also a tribute to the late Kate Orrechio. A long-time advocate for trees in Milford, Orrechio died in February at age 84.

“This tribute is a way to give back to something she absolutely loved and worked hard to protect trees and to enhance the city through nature,” Grant said. “This is something that she would have absolutely loved.”

The giveaway is scheduled for April 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at the lower lot of Eisenhower Park. Residents wishing to pick up a tree must call to reserve a sapling. There are still autumn brilliance serviceberry and scarlet oak trees

The pickups will be drive-thru-style to minimize contact and will follow all COVID guidelines by maintaining social distancing and require masks to be worn at all times.

For those who receive a tree, Grant said there are some general rules to planting it. First, trees should be planted away from sidewalks and driveways to avoid future root problems.

“The general rule is to plant the tree at least four to five feet away from the sidewalk and driveway but it varies from tree to tree,” Grant said.

Tree recipients also must read and sign a pledge when they register for the event. Among other things, recipients promise to plant their tree on private property, use Call Before You Dig to make sure they are not planting their tree near any buried power lines, and to make sure their tree has at least 10 gallons of water per week until its roots are well-established.

The rest of the rules and registration forms can be found on the city’s website on the open space & natural resource page. For any questions, call Grant at 203-878-7812 or email jgrant@milfordct.gov.