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Sixty-seven live oaks that Gary Keever grew from acorns he gathered four years ago ’neath the hallowed trees at the Auburn nation’s most revered corner are doing remarkably well. These direct descendants of the Toomer’s oaks are well established and hardy and stand anywhere from six to eight feet tall.
And now Keever, the Auburn horticulture professor who since Feb. 18 has been the university’s official spokesman on the status of the poisoned Toomer’s oaks, and the Department of Horticulture are making the trees available. Through a donation of $1,000, you can own a true Auburn icon, receive a $780 charitable tax deduction and support a valuable cause.
Working with the College of Ag’s Office of Development, Keever and the Department of Horticulture will use the donations to complete funding of the Dr. Thomas H. Dodd Jr. Endowed Professorship in Horticulture that was established last fall as part of a university-wide campaign to fund 81 new professorships in one year.
Ag development director Mark Wilton emphasized that the Dodd tree campaign is not in competition with and has the blessings of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ popular Toomer’s Oaks Seedlings Program, which for several years has been selling Baby Toomer’s Oaks for $100 each, with all proceeds going toward forestry school student scholarships. Demand for those seedlings has soared since the Feb. 17 announcement that the two beloved trees at Toomer’s Corner had been poisoned, creating a shortage that has resulted in a lottery system.
“The only physical difference between these trees and the forestry seedlings is that these are older and larger,” Keever says.
For more information about horticulture’s Thomas Dodd Toomer’s oak campaign, contact Delaine Borden at email@example.com or 334-844-4968 or (205) 983-3366.
Keever does offer a word of caution for potential purchasers of any Toomer’s oaks’ offspring. “As live oaks, these trees are limited by low winter temperatures, but they should survive anywhere from Auburn southward,” Keever says. “But then again, someone sent me a picture of a 15-foot Toomer's seedling growing in Huntsville.”
The late Thomas Dodd was a lifelong nurseryman at his family’s nursery in Semmes and was a pioneer in the nursery industry. Keever was named the Thomas H. Dodd Endowed Professor in Horticulture in September.
Last Updated: June. 2, 2011