Mike Oxendine of Plant Oregon and president of Oregon Community Trees places a heritage big leaf maple at at Hanley Farm in Central Point. Photo by Denise Baratta
Nails, stone tools, pottery shards, glass, and bone are some of the many items screened from freshly dug soil from a heritage tree planting event Saturday at Hanley Farm in Central Point. Photo by Denise Baratta
Southern Oregon Historical Society archeologist Jeff LaLande screens soil for artifacts unearthed for a tree planting Saturday at Hanley Farm in Central Point. Photo by Denise Baratta
Oregon Community Trees president Mike Oxendine, left, also of Plant Oregon, and archeologist Jeff LaLande, examine freshly dug soil for artifacts Saturday during a heritage tree planting event at Hanley Farm in Central Point. Photo by Denise Baratta
Two pairs of native trees were planted at Hanley Farm Saturday
The Southern Oregon Historical Society on Saturday celebrated the addition of two pairs of new trees to Hanley Farm.
Tree and history enthusiasts had plenty to enjoy at this event. Alice Mullaly, a longtime society volunteer, talked about the history of the farm and its trees.
“I really want you to think about what this place looked like 300 years ago,” Mullaly told the group.
It was a prairie with oak trees. The acorns were harvested for food. People who used to rely on the acorns to survive also buried their mortar and pestles in the ground so it would be easily accessible, she explained.
Later, some of the people who came looking for gold also figured out the land was excellent for agriculture.
The two big leaf maple and two Hinds walnut trees planted Saturday are replacing trees that lived out their lives on the farm but became damaged or dangerous. Both of the species are native to the area, Mullaly said.
The Hinds walnut trees are replacing English walnut trees on the farm. Area botanist Frank Callahan discovered the tree was native to Oregon in the mid-1960s. Callahan saw them along Bear Creek not long after he moved to Central Point with his family.
I have provided the seeds for the Hindu trees, which are about six years old. They were planted in his honor.
The species can live 150 to 200 years, he said.
He has since discovered scores of tree species — approximately 80, said Nancy Appling, who was representing the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee.
The maple trees are expected to live for at least 70 years.
Plant Oregon, located in Talent, donated time and effort to plant the new trees.
Callahan used a ceremonial shovel to dig a little into the ground around one of the walnut trees he helped bring into the world.
He talked about the global importance of trees as he moved some dirt around.
When it comes down to helping preserve the environment and removing carbon dioxide from the air, “planting trees is a cheap investment,” he said.
The pair of maples are being planted in honor of society volunteers George and Judith Meuser. The couple were highly active volunteers at the farm for more than a decade.
George Meuser died last year, but Judith was at the event. She posed by both trees as they were placed in the ground.
Plaques next to the trees honor Callahan and the Meusers.
Along with watching the young trees be planted, people could go on a guided tour featuring on the grounds of the historic farm and watch as Jeff LaLande, archaeologist for the society, sifted through the now-excess soil removed to place the trees into the ground . His goal was to find small artifacts.
La Lande used a wood box with a metal-sieved bottom to help filter out sieve items in the soil. He vigorously shook the loose soil out of the box, then used a water hose to further loosen the remaining soil so it would flow through the sieve.
He shook it again.
Then he used his bare hands to pick out the numerous items: A 20-penny nail, river cobble, fire-exploded rocks that might have been used for cooking, pieces of such items as agate, jasper, quartz, window glass and dishware.
“I wish I had soil like that in my yard,” said one of the people watching LaLande.
Mullaly noted that the site was likely used for camping because Jackson Creek was nearby.
The Hanley Farm is a 37-acre farm in Central Point established in 1857. It was donated to the society in 1982.
Several structures from the 19th century still stand on the property — including the farmhouse, barns and water tower. The location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and included on the Oregon Heritage Women’s History Project Significant Site Listing.
It’s also an operating farm with no-till, no-chemical vegetable gardens, community garden plots and a flock of sheep not far from the sites where the new trees were planted.