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Celebration Forest

Project type: 
Corporate Sponsored Projects
Year: 
2011
Season: 
Spring
Location: 
Southeast

A Forest Grows as a Living Legacy

They came to honour fathers and mothers, grandparents and children, siblings, spouses, friends, and even pets.  And when they left, 300 new trees stood to commemorate those who are gone, as well as loved ones who received a tree as a gift.

On Sunday, May 29, 2011, ReForest London officially opened its Celebration Forest, a way for families and friends to celebrate and commemorate loved ones, as gifts or as memorial trees.  The Forest will be added to annually, with each year being assigned a signature native tree. To kick off the Forest, the 2011 selection was the sugar maple.

The 6 hectare site, situated near ReForest London's headquarters in the Westminster Ponds Environmentally Significant Area behind Parkwood Hospital, was designated by St. Joseph's HealthCare, London, and London Health Sciences Centre for tree-planting, as part of their ongoing commitment to the health of Southwestern Ontario's people and the environment.  More than 5 hectares will be planted as forest.

Participants were given a brief yet thorough demonstration of tree-planting technique ReForest London Director Julie Ryan, and Project Manager Amber Cantrell.  Once the ribbon was cut to officially open the Forest, the crowd moved down the wood chip path to pick their preferred spot for their tree.  Volunteers were available to help with planting, or provide advice to ensure the trees got off to the best possible start.

The event was notable for the number of families who gathered to celebrate a departed family member.  Amongst the more than 200 participants, which ranged from toddlers to seniors, were 10 members of the Watson family, led by three daughters who were planting 6 trees in "Gordon's Grove", in memory of their father.  Gordon passed away in August of 2010, but "loved his place in the shade," his daughter says.

Another participant planted three trees, one for 4 1/2 month old Kylie, guarded by one each for her 2 great-grandfathers - which 'watch over' hers.

A group of 20 family members and friends combined to create a living tribute to Nicole Pow, who passed away at age 35.  Ten small trees ring a tall, central tree - a perpetual, growing reminder of their love for Nicole.

Also honoured was Mary Kerr, a long-time London naturalist and friend of the environment, who was recognized as ReForest London's first "Tree Hero".  A large sugar maple was planted in Mary's name in appreciation of her decades of dedication to London's trees.  Mary also received a framed certificate and a beautiful, gold-dipped maple leaf necklace.

The ceremony and tree-planting will be repeated annually.  To enquire about planting a commemorative tree, contact ReForest London at info@reforestlondon.ca, or call 519-936-9548.

Additional donors included Green Side Up, Blue Con Construction, Custom Rock Creations, the Thames Valley Trail Association, London Life, rtraction, Dirty Girls, and Clintar.