moon tree photo

The Athens Moon Tree is pictured on Monday, July 12, 2021, at 120 W. Dougherty St. in Athens, Georgia. Planted in 1976, the loblolly pine was germinated from one of the seeds taken to moon by Apollo 14 in 1971. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)

In May, the Athens-Clarke County Government Landscape Management Division installed a plaque honoring the Athens Moon Tree and the 50th anniversary of its trip into space in 1971. 

The Loblolly Pine, which is located at 120 W. Dougherty St., was germinated by the US Forest Service from one of 500 seeds flown to the moon and back in Feb. 1971. The seeds were a part of the Apollo 14 mission and were carried by astronaut Stuart Roosa.

Through the Athens Sertoma Club’s efforts, Athens was selected as one of four locations in Georgia to receive a seed. The seed was planted in 1976 at its current site to celebrate the United States Bicentennial.

Melanie Ford, director of construction at the University of Georgia and the leader of the efforts to place a plaque for the tree, worked to hold a ceremony to honor the Moon Tree. Rosemary Roosa, the daughter of astronaut Stuart Roosa, and Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut, were presented as guest speakers. 

Ford said that prior to the ceremony, the Moon Tree was intended to be torn down due a large development project in which the entire area would have been redeveloped with public housing sites.

To make sure the tree was not torn down, Ford reached out to various newspapers in Athens to bring public awareness about the matter. Through these efforts and mass publicity, the Moon Tree was officially listed as an ACC cultural resource, Ford said. 

Ford said she thinks it's important to preserve the tree so future generations can learn from it.

“It’s about saving our heritage and our cultural resources so that others can see the significance of a piece of history. This tiny piece of remembrance of [the Apollo 14 space program] is here in Athens, we should save it rather than tear [it] down.” Ford said.