By Chantal Roberts
Minds automatically turn to romance in February and the City of Love. But I don’t mean Paris; I mean Kansas City, Missouri.
If you’d like to give your sweetheart something special for an anniversary or birthday (since Valentine’s Day just passed), then maybe you want to book a flight out of Kansas City airport to see the Heart Forest.
“…(H)ere, in the Heart of America, the people care for one another and their Earth,” Chief Leon Shenandoah (Iroquois) who visited Kansas City in 1987 proclaimed. Chief Shenandoah felt the country’s energy was located in Kansas City. Chief Jake Swamp (Mohawk) and Chief Shenandoah shared their love for Kansas City with Dr. Robert Muller at the Second Annual World Peach Celebration.
The 22-acre project located at 104th Street and Brightwell Road—southwest of the Kansas City International Airport—took root (pun intended) from Dr. Muller’s suggestion that trees in the shape of a heart be planted around the entire Kansas City metroplex.
Kansas City would be proclaimed as a city of love!
Unfortunately, love did not conquer all in this grand project since the metro area is in two states and involved five counties. Even with love for their neighbors, a venture that size never took off.
But the idea captured the hearts of the city’s philanthropists who wanted to begin planting the Heart Forest by the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. Yet where could a smaller heart be placed and still be seen by people coming into Kansas City?
Volunteers approached the Airport General Manager and enlisted a land artist from Lawrence, Kansas. Several spots were deemed inappropriate, but finally, Cupid let his arrow fly. A location was found. The airport’s two major runways formed an arrow which pointed to the proposed spot of the Heart Forest. It was kismet!
A plan was drawn up to have five concentric heart-shaped rings surrounding an evergreen core. Eastern red cedar was chosen, and in another tie-in to our French heritage, the French called these trees “baton rouge” or “red stick” for the red wood. Red cedar will grow in almost any climate, although it does not like the dense clay soil we have in some areas. In fact, in 2002 the Heart Forest Board installed a drainage system in the upper right section in order to provide some relief to the trees whose roots were constantly in water.
So, can you see the Heart Forest from your flight? Yes! On take-offs you must be seated on the right-hand side of the plane; on landings you should be on the left (as you are looking towards the cockpit); finally, you need to be on the North-South runway.
In the heart of the country, there is a heart made out of trees.
From downtown KCMO take 1-70 W to 435 N.
Exit east on 120th (Rt D) 1/2 mile
to Brightwell Rd. & south 2 miles to 104th St.
From I-29 N take Hwy 152W (exit 9-B) to
Rt N, right on Farley-Hampton Rd. 1 mile,
left on Brightwell to 104th St.
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