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Chester County Press

Editorial: Five seedlings for our future

04/13/2021 04:30PM ● By Richard Gaw

For nearly the past decade, Chester County resident and musician Shane Palko has been a citizen of the world.

On the back of a dozen studio recordings and the support of his bandmates and legion of followers, Palko has brought his unique sound and compelling lyrics to stages and shows in 26 countries around the world across six continents. His voice is both rich and soul-searching, and his music has been described as psychedelic and meditative, a stunning balance of delicate guitar work and a powerful narrative, and with each passing country in his chosen life as a troubadour, Palko absorbs himself into its culture and its landscape.

His life is more than stages and hotel rooms and the punishing demands of traveling. Rather, his purpose has been carved into the global neighborhood of the people he plays to, in the world of shared beliefs and kindred souls, where there is little delineation between borders and barriers, and where everything is shared.

Four years ago, Palko acquired a two-and-a-half-acre farm on the outskirts of Landenberg, but until COVID-19 arrived last Spring, the property remained in the back of Palko’s head mostly in the form of a dream place -- a refuge to escape to from the endless and cyclical schedule of touring and recording. For a little more than a year, the worldwide pandemic has shuttered the performance spaces of Palko’s touring life and managed to keep him on his farm, but instead of wallowing in the paralyzing reality of inactivity, Palko began to reimagine his small farm as a future forest of planted trees.

In celebration of that purpose, Palko, along with recording artists Em McKeever and Sug Daniels, performed a 90-minute concert on April 6 that was live streamed from his farm. As part of the show, Palko introduced his Free Trees Project -- in partnership with McKeever and Daniels -- that will be giving away 365 free native shrub and tree seedlings to 75 area residents who have signed up for the program, on April 16, 17 and 18.

Made available by Palko, the Department of Natural Resources and a conservationist friend in Pennsylvania, each participant will receive five shrubs and seedlings, and among them will include loblolly pines, shortleaf pines, sawtooth oak, river birch, redbud, silky dogwood, northern bayberry, indigo bush, gray dogwood and buttonbush
“I have been an international touring musician for the past ten years, so I wanted to do something to make the natural world better after making a large carbon footprint over that time,” Palko said. “Planting shrubs and seedlings provides a beautiful opportunity for people to connect to their landscape, and to imagine what native species could be on their property.

“It just feels right to plant something in your own space, knowing that it is right for the ecosystem.”

During this time of great uncertainty, when we find ourselves marooned on islands of isolation with only the faintest glimpse of hope on the far horizon, the shrubs and seedlings that Palko is giving are gifts for our soil, our environment and future – so that forests of many definitions will begin to burst from the ground.

To learn more about Shane Palko and his Tree Project, visit