One billion seedlings. It’s hard to to wrap your head around a number so large. Think about planting the entire acreage of Rhode Island – three times – and you might get a better picture. That’s the number of seedlings produced, and celebrated, by the Georgia SuperTree Nursery in Shellman.
Started by International Paper in 1996, the Shellman nursery was built with the initial capacity of 65 million seedlings. It became part of ArborGen in 2007 and currently produces 60 million Pine seedlings and 2.5 million hardwood seedlings. The current total area of the nursery is 400 acres with 200 acres under irrigation.
On November 7, guests including state legislators, county commissioners, vendors, customers and friends, gathered together to commemorate the “Billionth Seedling” occasion with a resolution from the State House, a letter of congratulations from the governor and remarks from Robert Cross, Jr., nursery manager; Gerald Green, Georgia state representative; Warren Banner, vice president of manufacturing and Jim Crittenden, production supervisor. We also surprised Robert by recognizing his 41 years in forestry with the presentation of a plaque and remarks from Warren.
Dignitaries planted a ceremonial one billionth seedling in the front yard of the office, complete with a monument designating its importance. After lunch the nursery went right back to work – to start producing the next billion seedlings.