Volunteers will emulate Johnny Appleseed to expand and restore local urban green spaces and improve their quality of life and environment as part of October’s ninth annual National NeighborWoods Month program. Last year, local organizations and governments coordinated the planting of more than 45,000 trees by as many as 23,000 volunteers in hundreds of communities nationwide.
In Massachusetts, Boston Parks & Recreation Department workers joined TD Bank employees and public volunteers to revitalize the East Boston Greenway with 50 new trees. In Goleta, California, 80 new trees took root via 12 planting and care events, and more than 500 elementary school students took a cellular-level look at tree leaves during three science nights.
“Their shouts upon seeing the hair-like edges of some leaves that serve to absorb water and control evaporation were terrific,” says Ken Knight, executive director of Goleta Valley Beautiful. “We impress on them that they will act as stewards—what we plant will also be their children’s trees and onward.”
The Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees), the national nonprofit program coordinator, estimates last year’s efforts will capture 23.1 million gallons of stormwater, dispose of 660 tons of air pollutants and save participating cities and towns nearly $600,000 in water management and air pollution costs each year. Other tree-mendous benefits include beautifying the landscape, improving home property values, providing a natural habitat and reducing home air conditioning costs by supplying more shade.
To date, ACTrees member organizations have planted and cared for more than 15 million trees in neighborhoods nationwide, involving 5 million-plus volunteers. Executive Director Carrie Gallagher remarks, “People understand instinctively that trees are vital to creating safe and successful communities, and a livable, sustainable future.”