Hazardous Orchard Tree Brings Joy to Animals at the Indianapolis Zoo

It takes a lot of work to preserve Orchard’s 43-acre, wooded campus. Orchard’s Landscape Technician Abby Thompson explains how the grounds crew is able to keep our woods looking beautiful, and how recycling our trees can impact more than just our campus.
Does our grounds crew have the ability to take down trees?
Yes! We have the equipment, staff, and knowledge to remove trees or prune limbs. However, there are times when a branch breaks out and gets hung up high in the tree where we simply cannot reach. For the protection and preservation of other trees around one that may need removed, we call in Vine and Branch to take the tree down in pieces so it doesn't harm any other trees nearby. Vine and Branch has a long-standing history with Orchard as our go-to company when it comes to tree work outside of our abilities. Vine and Branch also has a cool Orchard connection. President Jud Scott, a certified arborist, is an alum and parent of alum.
What does Orchard do with trees that need to be removed or cut down on our campus?
Orchard keeps a majority of large logs and wood on the property to be used for future projects for students. If there are any small twigs or brush left they are sent through the chipper and hauled off site to be recycled into mulch.
Last week, a tree on the main entrance was removed and recycled to the Indianapolis Zoo. How will they use the tree and how did we get connected with the zoo?
I actually worked in the horticulture department at the zoo for 9 1/2 years and still maintain good connections in the department. Departments at the zoo are connected through a browse program. Browse is defined as "plant material for consumption or enrichment that is cut and carried to animals in a collection." The horticulture department regularly has requests from multiple animal departments for browse and they try to harvest from the vast collection of approved tree and plant species on the zoo campus.  Occasionally though, an outside source (like Orchard) offers browse list approved trees to be harvested for this program. Once the mulberry tree on the main service drive here at school was deemed a potential future hazard and slated for removal, I called up my friends at the zoo and asked if they would be interested. Mulberry is a fan-favorite for many animals, so of course they were on board.
That’s awesome! Do you know what animal received our mulberry tree?
An excellent collective effort from the grounds team at Orchard, Vine and Branch, and the zoo was able to provide a huge trailer and truck full of browse to the elephants. They took leafy limbs for a tasty snack as well as the big trunk pieces which are fun and enriching to push around and play with. Such a great way to recycle!

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