Read what Barnesville residents are doing to stay green!

Sustainable Barnesville brings 450 trees to the Ag Reserve!
  • 23 days
  • 3 nonprofit groups
  • 2 small towns
  • 1 local farm
  • 28 volunteers
==> 450 native trees planted in the Ag Reserve
In a whirlwind project that took advantage of all the skills of our talented Sustainable Barnesville team, 450 native trees were rescued from destruction and distributed to recipients in the Ag Reserve. 
Sustainable Barnesville team member Linda Pepe, who sits on the Montgomery County Forestry Board, was contacted on June 3 by the state forester about this situation. Clear Ridge Nursery in Union Bridge had over 2,000 trees remaining from their spring inventory. As the spring tree planting season was over, they would normally have destroyed any remaining trees. But they took the unusual step of offering these trees for free for distribution through state foresters. 
Sustainable Barnesville quickly created a working group with local nonprofits Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Sugarloaf Citizens Association and Poolesville Green. The group collected tree requests from the public through various outreach channels and quickly determined that we could find homes for 450 trees.  While we waited to hear how many trees would be allocated to us, we found a temporary home where the trees could be delivered and then distributed to area residents for planting.   Our deepest thanks go to Gene Kingsbury at Kingsbury Orchard, who offered the perfect spot to handle the tractor-trailer, keep the trees watered, and distribute them.
We celebrated notification that we would receive all 450 native trees we requested (8 different species).  We then contracted with a trucking company that frequently works with Clear Ridge, to transport the trees from Union Bridge to Kingsbury Orchard. In less than a week we sorted through all our requests and allocated the trees, notified recipients of delivery and distribution dates and sent them useful information on the care and planting of their new trees. We requested a donation of $2 per tree to cover the shipping costs. AND we found 23 more volunteers to help.
The 53’ tractor trailer arrived at Kingsbury Orchard at noon on a Thursday and was swarmed by 15 volunteers, including 5 from the Town of Poolesville’s landscaping crew.  The 450 trees were unloaded quickly and carefully organized by species.  Three hours later, tree recipients started to arrive, their orders were processed, and another crew of volunteers loaded trees into their vehicles.  COVID-19 precautions were used throughout to minimize risk to the recipients and to our volunteers.
In just 4 hours Thursday and another 4 hours on Friday, all trees were picked up to go to their “forever homes.”  Just 32 hours from delivery to distribution … exhausting for the volunteers, but reducing the stress on the trees!
Thanks to the donations received, 100 of the trees were given to Montgomery Countryside Alliance to be used in their “Re-Leaf the Reserve” program to reforest areas of the Ag Reserve. Thirty trees were given to the Town of Poolesville to be used in their public parks. And 2 trees will be planted in Barnesville’s new park, Lillard’s Corner.
Thanks to Clear Ridge Nursery, Maryland State Forester Dan Lewis, Gene Kingsbury, Barnesville Green Team co-chairs Joyce Bailey and Audrey Morris, Green Team members Linda Pepe and Lauren Greenberger, Montgomery Countryside Alliance Executive Director Caroline Taylor, Joyce Breiner at Poolesville Green, Seth Rivard, Preston King and the Town of Poolesville crew, and our many community volunteers who came to physically unload these 8-15’ high trees in 14” pots from the tractor trailer, then eventually load them into recipients cars, trucks and trailers.
Volunteers included:
Andrew Bacas
Chris Bacas
Woody Bailey
Carol Bewley
Dana Bleiberg
Dalis Davidson
Shareef Hamm
Delores Milmoe
Joel Nguherimo
Julie Super
Jane Thompson
Joe Worrell
If you’re reading this and have questions about the care and health of your own trees or planting new ones, be sure to check out the website of the National Arbor Day Foundation,
Town of Barnesville Receives Bronze Level PLANT Award
PLANT stands for People Loving and Nurturing Trees and is an initiative sponsored by the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee of the Maryland Forestry Boards in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 
Linda Pepe, who is a member of the Sustainable Barnesville committee, nominated the town for this award.  She is a long-serving member of Montgomery County’s Forestry Board and has led the establishment and growth of Montgomery County’s Champion Tree Register (  Linda encourages any Barnesvillian who is aware of a big tree on their property or elsewhere to nominate it using the form on the back page of the Register.
The town’s activities that were noted in the award nomination included:
  • The town’s facilitation of accelerated tree planting activities on private property through the Tree Montgomery program (with help from Lauren Greenberger). To date approximately 80 trees have been planted
  • The town’s efforts to save existing trees while also adding to our quality of life with additional sidewalks.  Commissioner Larisch was instrumental in researching alternative paving materials and convincing the county to keep several trees in place when sidewalks were installed across from the town hall.
  • The town’s encouragement of residents to participate in the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program.
  • The town’s inclusion in the design specs for a new passive park a certified arborist’s review and recommendation concerning the health of existing trees and the inclusion of new tree plantings in the final design.
Barnesville Energy Conservation Story
The window and doors were drafty. The steam radiators needed to go at full throttle to simply warm the house. A dual HVAC system with a heat pump operated -- for heating and cooling -- above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. An oil-fueled boiler fed a steam radiator heat system. This 1890s Barnesville farmhouse with 2,400 square feet of living space was in need of serious energy conservation attention. …and then the steam boiler broke.


Faced with the proposition of spending $12,000 to replace an inefficient heat source, the Barnesville homeowner opted in 2014 to make the following eco-friendly changes.


  • Installed a geothermal heating and cooling system to replace the oil boiler and heat pump. State grant and federal tax incentives reduced the cost of the system by more than 30 percent.

  • Converted light bulbs to LED or CFL, insulated attic and the hot water pipes, and replaced windows and doors. Added insulated window treatments on the south (sunny) side of the house during the summer.

  • Replaced refrigerator, dishwasher and freezer with Energy Star  models. Invested in an outdoor smoker/oven for summertime cooking.

  • Changed household behaviors:

    • Hung laundry to dry as much as possible, with dryer used only for large items and to eliminate wrinkles in clothes and scratchiness in towels. 

    • Turned off lights in  all unoccupied rooms. Installed outdoor lighting on motion detectors.

    • Cooked meals outdoors during the summertime and multiple meals simultaneously in inside oven.

    • Kept window treatments closed in summer to block out the sunlight.


Only three years later, the homeowner’s total annual energy costs were cut by more than half (63 percent), with an average annual savings of $3,600. Beyond the financial savings, these efforts also translated into the removal of 10,567 lbs -- or 4.79 metric tons -- of carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year.

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