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Want Free Beer? Here, Water This Tree

In the last week or so eagle-eyed Minneapolis residents may have noticed an enticing offer tagged to their neighborhood tree. Water a tree... beer for free. Yep, you read that right.

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A group of self-professed arboreal enthusiasts have launched Brewing a Better Forest, a campaign to help shepherd tender saplings into maturity. Over the next decade, the city of Minneapolis will be planting 8,000 trees a year in response to the devastating Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

"We're faced with a big change in our urban environment," says Joshua Plunkett, a founding member of Brewing a Better Forest, as well as an employee at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "Trees do all sorts of things for the city's infrastructure. It's going to be a challenge to replace [all of the] ash trees. We want to get that turnover going," he says.

This is where beer enters the equation. Newly planted trees need a lot of water to survive their first year. Who's going to step up? Why, beer drinkers of course!

"We wanted to foster stewardship," says Plunkett. "We noticed how brewpubs have been popping up and revitalizing these [Minneapolis] neighborhoods. We wanted to tap into that."

Brewing a Better Forest hopes to channel some Minneapolitan love for local beers to a love for local trees. "We're trying to get people out in the neighborhood to foster a tree, whether it be for a year or a couple years."

What does this involve? In exchange for one free beer from the 612 Brewpub in northeast Minneapolis, the adopter agrees to care for a tree. Brewing a Better Forest sends out emails alerts when the tree needs water -- about four buckets a week are needed during the first year. It may seem like a lot of effort for a pint of beer, but there's something gratifying about taking ownership of your neighborhood landscape.

"You're going to pay attention as you drive by and see how that tree's doing," says Plunkett. Years later the beer may be forgotten, but your tree won't.

For more information about the project, and to find out how you can adopt a tree, visit the Brewing a Better Forest website.

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