One man has collected more than 8,000 pounds of acorns for Virginia

Mike Ortmeier with 20-lb bags of seed he collected for the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Mike Ortmeier with 20-lb bags of seed he collected for the Virginia Department of Forestry.(Mike Ortmeier)
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 7:59 AM EDT
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The start of September may signify to some that fall is coming, but Mike Ortmeier looks forward to a different type of fall – the fall of acorns from native trees.

For Ortmeier, the sight of the first acorn on the ground means it’s time for him to break out his broom and dustpan and add to the more than 8,000 pounds of acorns he’s collected for the state over the past 13 years.

Every year, Ortmeier walks up and down the streets within a one-mile radius of his Arlington home each day sweeping up acorns during the roughly one-and-a-half-month collection window designated by the state, starting in September. He can collect hundreds of pounds each day in a good year, he said, and has accumulated a total of over 715,000 acorns across eight species of trees.

The Virginia Department of Forestry plants the acorns and nuts from native tree species at state-run nurseries to grow into seedlings that will be transplanted throughout the state. These seedlings will help reforestation projects and, in turn, can decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere while increasing biodiversity.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)