There is a quote, “Good things come in small packages.”

Last month, a visit to the small town of Farmington, Washington, with Spokane Conservation District (SCD) Forester Garth Davis, confirmed the statement.

Little Farmington has a big tree advocate with even bigger plans for their community forest.

Noreen Ewing, a town council member, has been leading an ongoing community effort to beautify the park across from the Farmington City Hall. When several trees in the park were inadvertently “over pruned,” she contacted Washington State Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR’s) Urban and Community Forestry Program for advice.

Garth Davis provides urban forestry technical assistance to communities in northeastern Washington through an agreement between SCD and DNR. He worked with Farmington to provide tree-risk assessments for the damaged trees and several other large trees that were in decline. As a result, it was necessary to remove several trees from the city park. Because trees were in close proximity to overhead power lines, Garth contacted Avista Utilities who agreed to assist with tree removal, if the city would take responsibility for removing the wood.

Noreen and John Ewing
Noreen and John Ewing show off the fruits of their labor at their home in Farmington, WA. Photo by Linden Lampman/DNR

When the trees came down, Noreen came up with an idea. She and her husband John own a small saw mill and offered to mill the wood into boards that could then be auctioned or sold. Profits from the lumber sale will be returned to the city for the purchase of new trees to replace those that were removed.

Noreen has educated herself about best management practices for trees, and with Garth’s help, the city developed a tree inventory and a maintenance plan. The new trees will be planted correctly, added to the inventory, and cared for properly with assistance from Garth and dedicated volunteers.

This project has inspired the Town Council, and Farmington is planning to apply for the Tree City USA award this year. With a population of 145, they will be Washington’s smallest Tree City—one with a big future ahead.

Are you in a northeastern Washington community that could use a little help with trees? If so, contact Garth Davis at Spokane Conservation District, 509-535-7274.

By the way, if you’re ever in Farmington, stop by and check out the memorial rose garden that Noreen designed and built; it is truly something to behold.

By Linden J. Lampman

DNR Forestry Program Manager