Sunday, June 17, 2012

Old News Is Still Good News: Planting Trees in Wooster Square Park

I’m a bit behind in my posts. As my favorite Beatle (John) once penned, “Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.” So what if this news is a few weeks old? It’s a good story even if it is a bit late.

On May 12, as part of the Yale Day of Service, Urban Resources Initiative (URI) staff and interns, along with a crew of eager volunteers (of which I was one) planted four trees in New Haven’s Wooster Square Park. Two were Yoshino cherries, replacements for older ones which had been removed as part of the maintenance plan for the park’s scenic border. The original cherry trees were planted in the ‘60s and have a relatively short life — normally 40 years tops. We also planted two oaks – one a Bur and the other a Swamp White. 

The cherry on its way to its new home.
Photo by Michael Marsland/Yale University.

Normally I am on a bike when traveling to Wooster Square for the City Seed Market. That day I was a team leader, standing in the center of the park waiting for the volunteers to arrive. I have to confess that I had never before noticed the variety of trees in Wooster Square Park, which is watched over by a number of neighborhood groups serving as volunteer stewards. From one group's board member we learned that the park was meant to recreate a forest. Originally it contained only woodland species, none flowering, and only one an evergreen. Some of its less common species include a Kentucky Coffeetree and a Buckthorn.

I will not ever take this park for granted again, nor will I pass through it quite so quickly. And I will definitely keep an eye on the new cherry tree I helped plant, especially since it’s in front of the house of a friend from many years ago.

The cherry in place in the line of trees at the park border.
June 16, 2012, one of the most beautiful days ever.

I have often written about my experiences with URI including here and here. This visionary group is a not-for-profit partnership with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies which fosters community-base land stewardship, promotes environmental education, and advances the practice of urban forestry. Its initiatives include TreeHaven | 10 K (a partnership with the City of New Haven to plant 10,000 trees over five years), GreenSkills (a local green jobs program that employes high school students and ex-offenders through the planting of trees), and Community Green Space (a program which provides materials, technical advice, and training to support the reclamation and maintenance of abandoned land in New Haven neighborhoods.) Beaver Ponds Park where I am doing some of my Master Gardener outreach service this summer is a Community Green Space project.

From now through July 8 there is an easy way to help the work of these planters and stewards of trees. URI is taking part in Stratton Faxon’s $200,000 Community Builder Contest. The law firm has pre-selected four local charities to share $200,000. The charity with the most votes will win the grand prize— $100,000; the three runners-up will each receive $25,000. In addition to voting for one of the four, each site visitor has the opportunity to write in one additional favorite charity to be awarded the remaining $25,000 in the prize. While each of these groups is worthy, I urge you to cast your vote for Common Ground, a local high school which organizes the annual Rock to Rock fundraising ride and partners with URI in tree planting projects, and then to enter URI in the write-in section. Please encourage tree planters, park lovers, and everyone you know who cares about New Haven to vote. If URI wins they will hire more teens to plant trees and support more volunteer groups to take on environmental projects to improve their neighborhoods. They will surely put the money to good use. [Apologies to my friends in all the other groups which are in the running. I wish I could write in each of you.] 

The URI Wooster Square planting site was one of 17 projects in the greater New Haven area and one of 250 projects that took place worldwide on May 12, the 4th annual Yale Day of Service. An estimated 3500 people volunteered. This is my 3rd tree planting project with URI (fourth if you count finding a home for little spruce).

1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing for the community and the Earth as a whole! I sound like a hippie, but its true. 10,000 trees alone for one project out of many? Very, very good. God bless, and happy planting!

    -Tony Salmeron