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Trees are the Answer!

Around the world, and in any language, “trees are the answer” to sustaining life on our fragile planet. That’s why more than 1,000 of our bare root trees are now taking root in a nursery near Kyiv, Ukraine. Maksym Petukhov, founder and owner of Florex Ukraine LLC, is determined to grow trees despite the war that is raging in his homeland.

Trees shipped from our loading dock on March 2 arrived at Florex Ukraine in early May. They are in good condition, according to Maksym, despite their trans-continental, trans-ocean journey of eight weeks via refrigerated container. Stacked to the ceiling of the shipping container by our skilled loading team, they were trucked to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. There, the container was loaded on a ship that sailed more than 12,000 nautical miles to the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania. After a 10+ hour trip by truck, the trees were unloaded at Maksym’s nursery, where they were quickly planted.

We sent a flag, signed with messages of encouragement and thanks.

Maksym’s quest to plant JFS trees began long before March 2. Originally scheduled for last spring, his prepaid order was on our loading dock, ready for shipment to a Polish seaport, when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The order had to be cancelled. JFS offered a full refund, but Maksym asked to have the funds applied to 2023. In October, he confirmed that he still wanted his trees, writing that,

“Enemy is large, but it just takes us more time to fight it. Only victory is accepted. We would not negotiate with evil.”

Maksym spends much of his time aiding the war effort, raising money, buying and delivering supplies to soldiers on the front lines, helping refugees and citizens living in the war zone. He established a charity that raises funds for the purchase of vehicles and other essentials that are sent to the front. Of these efforts he says, “Ukraine becomes one solid soldier, which in any possible way fights for peace, human rights, and independence. Thank you to all Americans who stay with us these days.”

Prior to loading, crews scrubbed the roots free of all soil.

This month, Maksym paused his wartime tasks to plant his Oregon-grown trees so they can wake up with their roots in Ukrainian soil. He’s eager to add Schmidt introductions to his product line of shade and flowering trees. He already offers some North American species and cultivars, including our Red Sunset® Maple, grown from liners purchased from JLPN Nursery of Salem. JFS recently licensed his company to grow several proprietary cultivars for sale in Ukraine.

“For me, JFS is one of the best nurseries in the world, with its own philosophy and point of view,” Maksym explained. “I want to introduce to Ukrainian society the high range and quality standards which are used by JFS.”

“Trees, for me, are like a medicine, and the high-quality plants as grown by JFS – very rare medicine.

“It helps even in the war time. When we focus on the trees, then for a moment we forget about the huge damage russia has done to Ukraine and humans; and recovering without trees is impossible,” he declared.

Redpointe® Maple and Scarlet Oaks heeled in at Florex Ukraine.

“Of course, the war changed my plans,” he continues. “It changed everyone’s plans. But trees are more important than ever. Every tree that we plant for people – it’s a hope. Damage to our country, to our environment and to our biodiversity is not even measurable. Our forests are ruined in so many places. Our towns have lost many, many trees.

“I believe when the war is over, it will be a huge recovery for Ukraine in front of us. That’s what keeps me planting and pushes me ahead,” Maksym said. “Half of Ukrainian nurseries have been erased by the war. My goal is to create a “UKRAINIAN WAY” of growing ornamental plants. I don’t believe in second life, so I don’t want to waste this one.”

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