On Saturday, Oct. 15, approximately 450 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started their morning by planting more than 250 trees in 30 different locations in lower Fairfield County. Nearly 30% of the members were children who were shorter that the trees they were helping to plant.

photo: families taking part in the tree planting efforts of members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. (contributed)

Ambler Farm, the Wilton Riverbrook YMCA, and the Wilton Historical Society were the locations in town where Wilton families worked hard planting more than 25 native trees, including sugar maples, white and scarlet oaks, dogwoods, weeping cherrys, and American sycamores.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is widely known as the Mormon church.

After a two year delay due to COVID, the initiative commemorates the 200th anniversary of an event which occurred in 1820 that is foundational to the organization of the restored Church — the First Vision of the young Joseph Smith which took place in a grove of trees in upstate New York.

“Although our Church is usually considered to be Western in origin, the roots of its beginning are actually here in the New England/New York area,“ said member and Wilton resident Jack McFadden who was assigned to be the Wilton congregation leader in securing appropriate locations and determining tree placement. ”The trees will be a lasting demonstration of our desire to contribute to our community.”

According to Brad Gibson, the Bishop of the congregation, there is a strong and growing presence of church members in Wilton as well as Ridgefield, Weston, and Redding. Members from those towns will make up the local congregation that will someday occupy the meeting house that’s planned for Danbury Rd., across from Wilton Town Hall. “Just as the trees we planted on Saturday bring beauty to our community, it is my hope that the people of my congregation will bring fellowship, service, and goodness to our communities, friends, and neighbors.”

Bob McDowell, CEO of the Wilton Riverbrook YMCA, expressed thanks for the contribution of the trees to not only enhance the beauty of the YMCA campus but also provide shade and comfort. “Our YMCA and The Church align with the values of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility and we love the giving attitude that they bring to our Community.”

Nick Foster, the newly-named Director of the Historical Society, was especially appreciative. “The Society’s outdoor space is as important to our mission as the buildings of the museum, so we are thrilled to have these new plants to both beautify the grounds but also offer shade for our outdoor programs and events for decades to come.”

Matt Oricchio, head of operations at Ambler Farm, noted that the 15 trees placed there would provide a beautiful first impression at the parking entrance.