Greenfield, Wisconsin



The City of Greenfield was once known as Cement City until forester Dennis Fermenich helped Greenfield become a leading Tree City USA. The Greenfield Model (GM) builds on that success. Originally billed as the “Container to Mill Model for Small Municipalities,”and based on the Milwaukee Model, the GM consists of three major players: the municipality, a container company, and a medium sized sawmill.

First, municipal tree crews are trained to removed trees in ways that preserve their wood whenever possible–experience shows that 20-30% of urban trees are eligible for sawing, the other 70-80% is used for pallets, mulch, biofuel, animal bedding, and firewood.

Once removed, all tree materials–minus stumps and brush–are placed in parked containers (aka dumpsters) and hauled to a local, medium sized saw mill for sorting into saw logs and other woody materials.  The containers cost around $300 each to park at the yard, then haul when full to the mill. In this model, all logs go to the mill–the good, the bad and the ugly. No “good log” should be kept for use by the city. Rather, the city and the sawmill can make arrangements for lumber made for the city’s use.

The sawlogs are processed at the sawmill. The remaining materials are distributed and sold to other local companies.  Sawn and dried lumber is then made available for purchase by citizens in the area and beyond.

In creating the GM, we worked with WUW partner, Kettle Moraine Hardwoods (KMH) because we needed  a sawmill big enough to both absorb large amounts of logs and retain the sourcing identity of each load. KMH owners are credited for their abilities to do both, and for their desire to be part of the urban wood movement in Wisconsin.

“We expect that the savings you will experience in processing costs will be greater than the trucking costs of sending the material to us,” says KMH. The whole cycle needs to work for every one.

The GM improves crew health and moral; reduces disposal costs; ensures that every tree will find its highest and best uses 100% of the time; and keeps local trees in the local economy. Preserving the trees as logs saves time and improves crew stamina. “The [crews] aren’t spent at the end of the day, and we can remove up to twice as many trees in the same amount of time.” says Fermenich. Saving time means saving money.

The GM began as a project between Wisconsin Urban Wood and the City of Greenfield and was facilitated by a 2016 grant from the WIDNR Urban Forestry Division.

This document was funded in part by an urban forestry grant from the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forestry Program as authorized under s. 23.097, Wis. Stat.

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