NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska City Tourism Commerce contacted Vaughn Hammond about the importance of his attendance at the tree planting demonstration Tuesday as part of the 150th Arbor Day celebration. When the time for the demonstration came, they prodded Hammond to actually plant the tree.
Hammond fielded questions about root development, water demand, grafting and healing damaged branches.
The Arbor Day Tree Planter of the Year was nearby, along with former award winners and interestingly, members of Hammond’s family.
With arborists and tree board members among the crowd, Hammond was surprised no one else came forward to help with the demonstration.
He began with a bit a showmanship:
Hammond: “You know you’ve got your tree, but the most important thing in a lot of ways is the hole. I always say you dig a $100 hole for a $50 tree.”
He said it’s important to think about the fine line of trees’ oxygen needs.
Hammond: “Believe it or not, the roots need air also – oxygen. So if you plant it too deep that oxygen exchange doesn’t happen.
He said while overwatering is the number one killer of newly planted trees, prompt watering is important.
Hammond: “Getting water on the whole hole is really important because it pulls the soil down in the macrospaces of the soil. You want to force the oxygen out and get the soil in, but you still need to have oxygen, so it’s a fine line there.”
With the black oak tree planted, NCTC’s Tammy Partsch sprang the surprise. Vaughn Hammond is the 2021 Arbor Day honoree.
Partsch: “Vaughn, it’s fitting that you’re the one that planted this tree because this is your tree. On behalf of Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce we announce that you, Vaughn Hammond, are the 2021 Arbor Day honoree.”
TAMMY: In his long career, Vaughn has worked at pretty much every single orchard in southeast Nebraska. He has planted an untold number of fruit, nut, and shade trees and had taught hundreds, if not thousands, of people to do the same.
Vaughn is a graduate of Leadership Nebraska City and, while serving as a UNL Extension educator, he traveled to Afghanistan with the Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Team to help the Afghan people redevelop their farming practices.
All that aside, Vaughn is one of the coolest people we know and we are proud to honor him.
Hammond is currently the agricultural and orchard manager at Vala's Pumpkin Patch.