The New Hampshire State Forest Nursery in Boscawen sold 50 percent more seedlings this year compared to 2021, continuing a trend the nursery has seen over the past five years.
During the pandemic, the state nursery saw a sharp uptick in seedling sales, when people were at home with more time and interest in planting trees. But even with many people back at work and school, the demand for seedlings has persisted – and grown.
The nursery reported placing around 38 percent more orders this year compared to last, nearly doubling the number of orders compared to five years ago. Last year, the nursery placed 1,699 orders. This year, that number was up to 2,352. And the orders were larger than they’ve been in the past.
“These last few years, we’ve been pretty much selling out of everything that we have available,” said Billy Kunelius, the nursery manager. Kunelius said the nursery focuses on species that are native to the state.
“Originally, I think it had possibly some amount to do with COVID and people being at home and wanting to plant things around their yard or just spend more time outdoors,” he said. “But I think it also has to do with more public knowledge of climate change and the ability to mitigate climate change and aid in carbon sequestration through the planting of trees.”
Given the increased demand for seedlings, the nursery is working to expand its production by opening more growing space. That entails expanding the irrigation system to be able to supply water to new growing beds. Irrigation is particularly important given the drought conditions that are now present in almost the entire state. Climate scientists expect droughts to worsen in coming years as temperatures continue to climb.
Most of the seedlings are grown for two to four years at the nursery before they are sold, which means more seedlings wouldn’t be available for a few more years after the expansion project is completed.
New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the country, at 83 percent. It follows Maine, which is 89 percent forested.
This story was written by Amanda Gokee, a reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.