ROOTED IN TRADITION REACHING FOR TOMORROW
Freegro tree shelters were designed in 1997 by John Kendall, with full-scale manufacturing beginning in 2000. In July 2019, Khowutzun Freegro TreeShelters (KFT) was born when John Kendall and the Cowichan Tribes formed a partnership to produce a new generation of tree shelters.
Our tree protectors are proudly made by members of the Cowichan Tribes at our manufacturing facility located within the Khowutzun Development Corporation building in Duncan, BC. Cowichan Tribes are the most populous First Nation in BC, with nine reserves spanning nearly 2,400 hectares in the Duncan and North Cowichan regions. Forestry plays a significant role in the economic development of our region and we are proud to be key players in creating significant employment opportunities for our communities, as well as the revitalization and protection of our forests and managed lands.
Khowutzun Freegro TreeShelters can be used multiple times on successive plantations with a reusable design that makes them easy to handle, store, install and remove, providing a sustainable option in the protection and revitalization of our forests. The unit compacts to less than one-third the size of similar tube-like shelters which significantly reduces manufacturing, transport, and labour costs. We provide a durable and sustainable seedling protector product with operational advantages that save forest companies and landowners over 25% on browse protection costs.
The connection to our communities, our partnerships with organizations who stand for environmental stewardship and economic development, and our involvement in academic research that encourages continual growth within the forestry industry are at the core of Freegro’s mission and purpose: to provide an exceptional tree shelter that creates opportunities for Cowichan Tribe members and enriches our forested lands. We value and appreciate these relationships that support the common goal of promoting healthy environmental and economic landscapes, which are cornerstones of our operational mandate.
In August 2005, a study conducted by The BC Forest Service Forest Sciences branch examined five different shelters on (a wide range of criteria) the following criteria: effectiveness at preventing browse damage; ease of installation (based on planter comments); durability; and survival and growth of the protected seeding. They found the best survival rates and highest growth rates in Freegro shelters, and planters reported our shelters were “extremely easy” to pack and install.
In July 2019, a LLP partnership was formed with Freegro Enterprises and the Cowichan Tribes to manufacture a new generation of shelters. The new partnership company formed in November 2019 became Khowutzun Freegro TreeShelters and manufacturing was moved to the Khowutzun Development Corporation building in the Quamichan Hall of the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Center in Duncan, BC. The Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre is managed and owned by the Cowichan Tribes and features authentic artwork and crafts created by band members.