Beautifying Brandon: Trees benefit us all


BRANDON—A hundred years ago, almost all of the streets around the village of Brandon were shaded by vaulted elm trees. Maples replaced elms, but the tree canopy remained lofty and glorious. Over the years, these street trees have died from disease or old age, and either fallen down or been removed.  What is left is a spotty collection of trees with half of the branches shorn off to accommodate the power lines.

Study after study has reiterated the importance of trees in neighborhoods, towns, cities, along streets, beside rivers, in parks, near hospitals, everywhere. Trees improve health, safety, temperature, erosion, diversity, property values, air quality, noise levels, even your mood. 

About 20 to 25 years ago, I was involved in the Brandon Historical Society, the Downtown Project, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and trying to save the Old Brandon Settlement from becoming a housing development. Between doing research about Old Brandon and rethinking our focus on Downtown Brandon, I studied a great many old photos of Brandon. You couldn’t help but notice the tree-lined streets, the cathedral effect of the branches meeting high above the roadway. Stunning!  And with all of the reports about the positive effects of urban forestry and shade trees, and even the color green, it was hard not to do something. 

I gathered a group of like-minded individuals, and we became the Brandon Tree Committee 1.0. We got a lot of help and guidance from the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program and the Arbor Day Foundation, and in the end, we planted quite a few trees around Brandon and had an informational kiosk that made the rounds in town (library, schools, banks, MD offices) spreading the Tree Committee’s mission to increase the number of trees in town, and hopefully inspiring others to do the same. 

But the Tree Committee’s efforts were forestalled by the looming construction on Route 7 (Segment 6). We were constantly being warned that whatever improvements we might try to make in the center of town, it would all come to naught, because of the Rt 7 project. Of course, that construction took another two decades to come to fruition, and in the meantime Tropical Storm Irene made short work of many of our downtown plantings.  

Now that Segment 6 is “in the rear-view mirror,” and we have a cavernous culvert to protect the village from flooding—and trees have, if anything, a BETTER reputation than they did a quarter century ago—it is time we start paying attention to our tree canopy again. A tree committee 2.0 has formed called the Brandon Tree Group. The goal is to look at the trees and flowering shrubs we currently have along Brandon’s streets. The inventory is crucial so we can see what we have and what condition it’s in. We then are hoping to start planning and planting for the next 50 to 100 years. The work will involve learning about trees and shrubs, diseases, stressors on trees, and fundraising. The committee is looking for a Chair and committee members, new ideas and new energy. Please contact Laura Peterson at if you are interested. 

In the next few weeks, we will be bringing you three more articles in the series of beautifying Brandon. 

REMINDER: Registration is now open for the 2024 UVM Extension Master Gardener program. The UVM extension. Master Gardener Program is currently accepting registrations for their 16-week online signature course. It starts on January 19, 2024. The course covers a wide array of topics, including vegetable, fruit, and ornamental gardening, Integrated pest management of insects and diseases, soils, tree care, sustainable landscaping, and more. 2 tracks are available: Track one is for those aim to become certified UVM Extension Master Gardener volunteers. This track requires a 40-hour internship.  Track two is designed for gardeners who are interested in home horticultural study and who are not interested in becoming certified. The registration deadline is January 12, with a $400 fee for Vermont residents, $550 for non-residents. Vermont residents can apply for scholarships until December 15. To learn more and register visit:

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