Brewing a Better Forest: water a tree, brew for free

With Emerald ash borer being a new visitor to Minneapolis, the importance of urban forestation and the preservation of that new forest became even more important. Minneapolis plants thousands of trees each year, but has limited capacity to water all of them in their very important first couple of years. Brewing a Better Forest is a non-profit founded by U of M alumni who want to make sure these young trees get the water they need to survive. Besides their love of trees, what unites the founders is a love of craft beer and a shared mission to sustain our urban forests. Initial ideas “took root” over conversation and beers among seven U of M alumni, trained in urban forestry and horticulture at the U, who currently work at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, University of Nebraska, and Rainbow Treecare.

Here’s the hook. If people adopt a newly planted Minneapolis boulevard or park tree and agree to water it, Brewing a Better Forest will provide them with tokens redeemable for free beverages from one of nine beer and coffee brewery partners. “Water a tree, brew for free. With a very simple mission, we’ve had well over a thousand trees adopted throughout Minneapolis with promises to water whenever it’s dry and whenever we send a little reminder email,” says Ben Johnson (’99 B.S. Urban Forestry), Consulting Arborist for Rainbow Treecare. Brewing a Better Forest representatives spend most of their time promoting the program through direct tree tagging (with their mission and goals on the tag), through promotional events including participation in the Minneapolis Arbor Day celebration, and with a Brewery Running Series partnership.

The future of Brewing a Better Forest is even more important than the simple beginnings. Every year almost 8,000 trees are planted in Minneapolis and the team hopes to get more trees adopted, watered, and thriving in the city. They will continue to market and promote the program, and continue to provide quality, local craft brews to wonderful citizens willing to water a tree. So far, tree adoption is limited to Minneapolis, but the team of tree-lovers hopes to expand the program to other metro-area locations. Find out more and how to adopt your own tree at