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.
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