Rob Heiderman (far background), Linda Copeland, Kim Humphrey (foreground) and Dan Grady pull weeds from last year’s tree planting site at Arvin Sango. The weeds had to be pulled by hand because they surrounded saplings that were planted last year.  (Courier photos by Peggy Vlerebome)
Rob Heiderman (far background), Linda Copeland, Kim Humphrey (foreground) and Dan Grady pull weeds from last year’s tree planting site at Arvin Sango. The weeds had to be pulled by hand because they surrounded saplings that were planted last year. (Courier photos by Peggy Vlerebome)
Volunteers will plant about 4,000 trees and shrubs Saturday, May 18, to complete Arvin Sango’s commitment to plant a 20,000-tree forest on its property. The public can help plant the trees, which will be the sixth and final planting.

The new saplings will join 18,627 trees and shrubs that have been planted since the program began in 2014.

Arvin Sango training manager Dan Grady, who has been in charge of the tree plantings since the beginning, and employees who volunteered to work their shift outdoors started weeding last year’s planting area Thursday.

Nearby, this year’s planting area is ready, except for the soaking it will get right before the new saplings are planted. Take boots if you plan to participate.

The planting day will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be free lunch, a Nature Fair with activities for children, and drawings for prizes. Signs will show where to park. The planting area is near the Arvin Sango building at 2949 Wilson Ave.

Arvin Sango’s tree plantings follow the guidance of Japanese botanist and plant ecologist Akira Miyawaki, who came to Madison in 2012 for the announcement of the forest plans and in 2014 for the first planting day.

Miyawaki has said he is responsible for more than 40 million trees being planted worldwide using his method.

His method is to build a mound of dirt and compostable materials and let it sit; Arvin Sango built its first mound more than a year before the planting day.

Preparation for this year’s planting began last year, with 3 feet of dirt removed from the center, mixed with mulch and then put back onto the site, forming a mound.

Miyawaki’s method is to plant trees close together. After a hole is dug with a trowel, the sapling is set into the hole but the dirt is not packed around the roots.

After all the trees are placed, mulch such as straw is placed around them and held down with string.

Miyawaki, 91, is no longer active in tree planting or able to travel, but his philosophy, method and successes have been well-documented.

Before any of his forests were planted, Miyawaki studied the soils and determined the species of trees that grew there originally, then specified how many of each species he chose should be planted.

For the Arvin Sango forest, the trees include several kinds of oaks, along with beeches, maples and others.

Miyawaki’s philosophy includes that forests provide serenity, protection from storms, and a crucial counter to global climate change because they take in carbon and promote health by taking in the carbon dioxide we exhale and put out oxygen that we inhale.

Planting a forest was the beginning of an environmental stewardship program at Arvin Sango that was to include an 11-acre wildlife habitat to be planted this spring.

The habitat might be put on hold for a year because of other things going on at the auto parts manufacturer, Grady said.