trees matter blog
Written by: Billy Bee, Trees Matter Blog Writer
Recently, Trees Matter came across an interesting program that aims to help a Phoenix neighborhood plant trees. This effort, called the Coronado Community Tree Campaign, is run by a man named Tom Wright who was interviewed by Trees Matter for this blog post.
Tom Wright received a degree in Urban Horticulture from ASU in 1997 and is a Certified Arborist. He works in the landscaping industry including operating his business for over two decades. His enthusiasm for trees and the Coronado Neighborhood is immediately apparent when meeting him and as strong as his vise-like handshake. The story of the Coronado Community Tree Campaign is a simple, yet, elegant one.
Between 2007 and 2009 the Coronado Neighborhood Association, which Tom was a member of, received grant money to plant street trees. The program proved successful and when it ended, members of the Coronado neighborhood wanted to continue planting trees. High retail prices for the trees and lack of coordination among individual members of the community slowed the progress of their efforts, so Tom stepped in. Tom consolidated the tree planting requests and negotiated wholesale prices for residents in the Coronado neighborhood who wanted to participate. The tree varieties chosen were taken off the Arizona Department of Water Resources List for low water use and purchased from a family owned nursery in Phoenix, keeping processes local. Trees came in 15-gallon containers for a good head start on tree growth and were not limited to being planted along the streets. People, therefore, planted trees throughout their yards, following one of Tom’s mottos--“Let’s just get some canopy!”
Tom’s program works like this: trees are delivered to Tom’s house and he delivers them personally to his neighbors via his wheelbarrow, which has led to his nickname “Wheelbarrow Tom.” He also provides residents with information on tree planting and care, and in some cases, he has even planted trees for residents who were unable to do it themselves. The first year he delivered 18-30 trees and later set a goal of planting 50 trees during each Fall and Spring planting season. In Spring of 2017, he exceeded his initial seasonal goal and delivered 71 trees! Since 2009, the Coronado Community Tree Campaign has delivered nearly 600 trees and is well on its way to reaching Tom’s goal of planting 1,000 trees in the Coronado neighborhood before he’s reached age 50.
The Coronado Community Tree Campaign has successfully built a sense ofcommunity. Over the past two seasons, people like Drew Bryck and other Coronado neighborhood members have stepped up and actively assisted by purchasing and planting trees for others. Tom’s “one guy, a Facebook page, and a wheelbarrow” formula is really paying off. More trees, more canopy, and more community engagement.
If you would like to find out more about this great idea and program, and especially if you would like to do something like this in your neighborhood, you can contact Tom through the Coronado Community Tree Campaign Facebook page.
By Taylor Scarpelli, Trees Matter 2017 Spring Intern
On Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 Trees Matter participated in the March for Science rally in downtown Phoenix. With so many people interested in the same environmental topics, it was an empowering day!
A Quick Flashback to April 22nd, 1970: A Day That Made History
Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Gaylord Nelson (Democrat) from Wisconsin and Congressman Pete McCloskey (Republican) came together to organize a day that put the needs of the environment in the media spotlight. April 22nd, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected and, thus, the first Earth Day took place. It was a day where people from all walks of life gathered to rally for legislation that protects our Earth. The marchers, and all the marchers that have come after, are responsible for pushing for environmental legislation such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act still enforced today.
Now Fast Forward to April 22nd, 2017: Phoenix March for Science
8:00am: Set Up
10:00am: Begin to rally
11:00am: We march
Thousands of people that day were united through one purpose: to fight for science. It did not matter your age, your ethnicity, or where you came from. All that mattered was that you believed in the march. One could imagine that an onlooker peering down from a nearby window could see a vision resembling a school of fish ebbing and flowing, twisting and swaying through the cityscape. Instead of the sound of the ocean, a wave of chants and hope could be heard. It was a scene the founders of Earth Day could have looked over with pride.
12:00pm: Science Fair
Once the march was complete, Trees Matter held a booth at the Science Fair located at Washington St and 1st Ave. We were overwhelmed with the amount of people shuffling through the booths and were delighted to share conversations with people interested in our mission. We eagerly discussed our most recent program, The Edible Tree Series, and our SRP Shade Tree Workshops.
To encourage the act of slowing down to observe what’s around you (and say thank you), Trees Matter created a Tree Scavenger Hunt for the marchers. The hunt required participants to solve riddles in order to locate eight trees we had selected around the block where the rally was held. Each tree was numbered and included a fun fact, the scientific name, and the common name. Once all the riddles were complete, participants received either a Cherry Sage or Purple Sage liner (a young plant) as a prize. The Tree Hunt was a great interactive way to get people thinking about trees and the benefits that they provide in an urban landscape. We had a lot of fun creating it and people seemed to enjoy participating in it!
Thank you to the many people that stopped by the Trees Matter booth that day—we walked away with 4 full pages of newsletter and volunteer sign-ups. Jeez Louise, the amount of support we felt from the community was tremendous!
To whom we shared a laugh, sparked a conversation, or exchanged a smile: Trees Matter thanks you for your time and your support!
On Saturday, April 30th VPA held its 4th annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast in downtown Phoenix at The Space Between Park. We partnered with Copper Star Coffee, Hickman’s, Downtown Phoenix Inc, and The Orme School to feed over 100 people homemade Mesquite pancakes and to educate over 130 people on the importance of Mesquite as part of our 2016 Edible Tree Series Events. Mesquite trees not only provide valuable shade but they have also served as a nutritious food source for native peoples and animals. Thanks to everyone who came out to our sold out breakfast and tried delicious Mesquite flour--we couldn't have made it a success without you! Below are some photos from the event and to watch a video from it, click here.
(each stack of Mesquite pancakes was served with sides of organic egg quiche, greens & native tepary beans, country potatoes, clean chicken sausage, and coffee)
(how to make mesquite flour)
If you missed the breakfast, we'd like to share the recipe for our delicious mesquite pancakes with you here, and you can still join us on June 8th, 2016 for our Mesquite Presentation and Harvest Demonstration where you will learn how to harvest, store, and use Mesquite pods.
The Mesquite Pancake Breakfast showed how trees--and the food that they provide--can bring a community together. Thank you to all the volunteers and mesquite lovers that showed up!
And thanks again to our food donors and event partners!
Did you love our breakfast? Help us make next year’s breakfast even better by leaving feedback on this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YG56HNG
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9TUdRMhGmeSZk93NmZvaWcyMXM/view?usp=sharing (link to video)
http://vpaaz.org/resources/Documents/Recipes/Mesquite%20Pancake%20Recipe%20-%202016%20PDF.pdf (recipe link)
On April 9, 2016 VPA partnered with Arizona State Forestry, Arizona State University, Arizona Nursery Association, and many others to help host the second annual Tour de Trees event in the Valley. Last year’s Tour des Trees took place in North Central Phoenix and this year it was held at the Arizona State University Tempe Campus.
During the one-mile free self-guided bike or walk tour, participants weaved through the amazing trees and vegetation of ASU’s Tempe Campus while learning from professional arborists on 11 different topics:
For a complete route map, click here
Tour des Trees ran from 8:30-11:30am and participants were able to use this amazing mobile friendly app (pictured below) created by Deborah Thirkhill from ASU to help people navigate through campus, as well as view photos and information on each tree type. (Thanks, Deborah!) Up to 50 valley residents participated in the event and 35 dwarf figs tree were given away.
VPA’s Executive Director, Aimee Williamson, said of the event, “I hope that this year’s Tour des Trees brought more awareness of the importance of trees and their maintenance and that this will be shared by people with their friends, families, and community.”
(an arborist, in front of a Mesquite tree, teaching a participant about the importance of planting the right tree at the right place)
Tour des Trees was a perfect example of what trees do--bring communities together while providing valuable shade on a warm Arizona Saturday morning. Thank you to all the volunteers and tree lovers that showed up!
And thank you to our tree partners!
http://www.vpaaz.wildapricot.org/resources/Documents/Events/Tour%20de%20Trees/TourdeTrees_FlyerMap_2016.pdf (link to route map and flyer)
http://arcg.is/23fDHcS (link to app)
As National Arbor Day approaches--it’s Friday, April 29th--, we thought we’d give a brief run-down of how the holiday came about and the ways you can celebrate it this year.
The very first celebration of trees--or what we now term Arbor Day--was held in a small Spanish Village in 1805. Encouraged by a local priest protesting against the destruction of the Napoleonic Wars, the community planted a popular tree in the town square. Over the next several days, dozens of other trees were planted and a movement for the defense of trees began.
About 70 years later, the American decision to formalize the celebration of trees as a national holiday was prompted by the journalist and tree lover, Julius Sterling Morton (pictured right). While serving as a member of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture (and before working as President Grover’s Secretary of Agriculture), Morton proposed that a day should be dedicated to tree planting and increasing the awareness of the importance of trees. Hence, the first Arbor Day was celebrated as a state holiday in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, where an estimated one million trees were planted on that one day! In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday, was chosen as the date for its permanent observance.
While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April (beginning in 1970), many US states observe it on different dates depending on their tree planting season. Click here to learn when each state celebrates Arbor day. Globally, over 30 countries now celebrate Arbor Day, or a form of tree appreciation day. Click here to learn when and how Arbor Day is celebrated around the world.
How can you celebrate Arbor Day this year? One way is to celebrate early by joining us this Saturday, April 9th from 8:30-11:30am at ASU’s Tempe campus for our second annual Tour de Trees where you can visit 11 magnificent trees and learn more about tree care. You can also officially celebrate Arizona Arbor Day by coming to the AZ State Capitol Museum on Tuesday, April 26th from 10-12:00pm for an awards and planting ceremony.
Or, you can simply plant a tree.
Contact a local nursery or register for a workshop here where you can receive up to two free trees. Planting a tree is easier than most people think, and you’ll be able to celebrate your tree’s “birthday” each Arbor Day.
And remember--on April 29th take a minute to enjoy the shade of a tree and appreciate why trees matter.
Last month we wrote a blog about how trees outside a window does more than provide something nice to look at—it helps student learn better. Now a recent study shows how even looking at pictures of trees and other green spaces make us calmer. Participants of the study were given pictures of either trees and green places or pictures of concrete and buildings after they had completed a strenuous math problem. Researchers then tested the participants’ sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic system responds to stress by triggering the fight-or-flight reaction and raises our heart rate and makes us anxious. The second system, the parasympathetic, brings feelings of calmness and well-being. When participants saw pictures of greenery after the math stressor, their parasympathetic system kicked-in and lowered heart rates, something that failed to happen with the group of participants who viewed pictures of concrete and manmade objects. The study suggests that viewing green spaces, such as trees, can help lower feelings of anxiety and stress and that actually visiting or seeing nature can create even greater feelings of relief and happiness.
Bottom line--at the very least, set your screen saver to images of trees or, if possible, scoot your desk next to a window. Then, come get happy by joining us at the second annual Tour des Trees on Saturday, April 9th. This is a FREE (self-guided) bike and walk friendly event where we will be going around Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus and visiting 11 of their magnificent trees. At each tree a professional arborist will be teaching an important tree topic like proper watering techniques (refer to the flyer below). You may learn a few new facts, but we guarantee that you will feel more relaxed after walking through a tree-shaded campus!
(For a map and larger flyer to print, click here).
Last year's Tour des Trees was a great time and we hope to see many of you again this year!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690962/ (original study)
http://www.vpaaz.wildapricot.org/resources/Documents/Events/Tour%20de%20Trees/TourdeTrees_FlyerMap_2016.pdf (map and flyer to print)
As we approach the beginning of spring, several customers have reached out to us with good news about their young Desert Willow trees.
During the fall and winter Desert Willows undergo winter dormancy and young trees often look like a barren stick in the ground. New tree owners voice concerns that their trees are dead but we explain winter dormancy behavior and encourage them to continue caring for their trees. When consistent heat kicks in, we assure them, Desert Willows will show signs of growth such as small green buds on the tips of branches. Understandably, doubt persists as people watch a stick in the ground to continue to look like a stick in the ground for several months. This past month, however, as temperatures reached 80 and 90 degrees, Desert Willows have begun waking up! Below is a picture of a Desert Willow planted this past fall that appeared “dead” up until last week when the tree owner sent us an updated photo of new spring growth on the branches!
Another tree owner was concerned about her newly planted Desert Willow but last week she noticed that the tree trunk had turned from an auburn-brown to a gray and bits of green buds began sprouting on the branches (pictured right--notice the two different bark colors on the left).
It’s important to have patience with trees, especially young trees. Trees planted right when the cool weather sets in can go straight into winter dormancy for protection to conserve food supplies and, therefore, show minimal or no growth. But, alas, when the heat hits they are ready to take off!
If you are concerned about your tree, make sure to read our blogs on how to protect your trees during winter and how to diagnose and treat common tree issues. If your tree is exhibiting winter dormancy behavior, make sure to still properly water it and look for the following signs come spring:
You can post any question on our ask the arborist forum where our volunteer certified arborist will provide free advice. If you have a Desert Willow (or other tree type) success story, please share it with us!
It turns out that trees outside a window do significantly more than provide a nice view.
A recent study shows that a view of trees outside a classroom window helps students retain information better and recover from stress quicker. Although previous research has shown positive associations between green landscapes (trees, grass, plants) and student academic performance, this is the first study to support causal relationships between exposure to green campus landscapes and improved student performance.
In the randomized controlled experiment, 94 students at five different high schools were assigned to classrooms without windows, windows that opened up to a barren space (and no natural greenery) or windows with views of green space (trees, grass). All students participated in a 30 minute activity and were then given a 10 minute break. It was specifically the 10 minute break that allowed (or didn’t allow) access to nature that led to marked improvement in a student’s attention capability and stress recovery (refer to the diagrams on the right). The study reveals the important—but often overlooked--impact that school designs and green landscapes have on student academic performance.
This year, thanks to a grant from the Arizona State Forestry, we are launching a School Tree Maintenance and Replacement initiative in order to plant and care for trees on school property and to educate children about the importance of trees (refer to below for a full description of the initiative).
As studies continue to provide evidence of what we intuitively know—nature is a source of stress reduction and cognitive replenishment— it is important to integrate green space into school designs to provide students the proven benefits of a tree lined window.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291148332_Impact_of_views_to_school_landscapes_on_recovery_from_stress_and_mental_fatigue (download PDF of original study)
Last week we announced our new community tree program--Trees Matter--and showed how it fits into the City of Phoenix’s larger goal of greening the city by achieving 25% urban tree canopy cover by 2030. Not only is the valuable role that trees play in reducing carbon emissions being recognized by city officials, but it has also become an important topic on the world stage--urban forestry investment was included in the final Paris climate agreement! In 2014, we wrote this blog on environmentalist Lester Brown and his urging for the world to plant more trees.
If you followed our Why Trees Matter blog series last year, you learned about the many other benefits that trees provide. One in particular--community development--has been the focus of a nationwide urban forestry program called Spreading the Canopy. In the US Forest Service sponsored initiative, five community forestry organizations worked to connect the health benefits that trees provide to the public health community. Their goal was to involve the health community into the greater conversation about the role that urban forests play in improving a person’s mental and physical health and the well-being of a city. By engaging others in the public health arena who would not typically be involved with trees organizations--such as hospitals, insurance agencies, municipal and state governments, and wellness organizations--a nationwide dialog began about how to develop and invest in more green spaces (parks, trees, grass) in order to improve public health.
With the Paris climate agreement’s formal recognition of the crucial role that trees play in climate change and religious figures like Pope Francis joining the dialogue, the urban forestry movement is helping answer the world’s need for leafier cities.
This year VPA is launching a community tree program called "Trees Matter" in order to increase public knowledge of permaculture and trees in the valley. A large part of our efforts will be to educate others on why trees matter in the urban desert southwest. In a timely coincidence, Richard Adkins, the Forestry Supervisor for the City of Phoenix, was recently featured in this article where he discusses upcoming urban forestry projects aimed at increasing Phoenix’s tree canopy cover—the shade that we need when it’s 110ºF outside!
Currently Phoenix has about 9% urban tree canopy cover but, Mr. Adkins explains, in the 1920’s the city boasted 50% tree canopy. The City of Phoenix is working towards a goal of 25% tree cover by 2030 which means roughly 5,636,000 new trees must be planted over the next 14 years, or 376,000 new trees each year. This amount of newly planted trees in less than 20 years, Mr. Adkins admits, is a very hefty goal considering that Phoenix’s current budget allows for the planting of 3,000 trees per year but the city also removes about 2,000 trees each year due to disease and damage. The Forestry Division, he adds, is hoping to receive enough money allotted to plant 5,000 trees a year and, therefore, achieve 75,000 newly planted trees by 2040. In order to reach his goal of 20% urban tree canopy cover in 25 years, Mr. Adkins stresses the need for everyone to plant trees on private property as well as public land. And this is where you and VPA come in…
Last year thanks to those who participated in our SRP Shade Tree program and to the many volunteers who helped, we gave away 5,790 desert-adapted shade trees! This year with the help of a Community Challenge Grant awarded to us from the Arizona State Forestry Division, we hope to increase that number through our Trees Matter community tree program. We will also be partnering with the Arizona Community Tree Council and the Roosevelt School District to replace lost or damaged trees, to provide professional development for staff, and to create educational material for children such as coloring books that highlight why desert trees are so special!
We hope you will follow us (and join as a volunteer) in the following year as we show others why Trees Matter!
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