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Growing For The Million Tree Challenge

Project type: 
Million Tree Challenge

Over the winter and spring, several different groups (including MTC Partners) and individuals grew approximately 1160 trees to support London’s Million Tree Challenge. Some of these trees were saplings that were planted in park naturalization projects but most were seedlings that were given away at events for people to plant in their yards. We're excited to tell you about the extraordinary efforts of: Friends of the London Civic Garden Complex, students at Saunders Secondary School and Oakridge Secondary School, WINMAR London, and the Public.

Friends of the London Civic Garden Complex
During the cold of winter in late January 2013, ReForest London's Parks, Natural Areas and Roadways Action Team and MTC Partner Friends of the London Civic Acorns planted by Freinds LCGCGarden Complex (Friends LCGC) organized a planting event at the Civic Garden Greenhouse. ReForest London’s project manager Amber Cantell supplied the Friends with hundreds of acorns purchased from St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, plus some leftover bagged White Spruce seedlings from the Mayor’s Breakfast event so they could pot them and take care of them in their greenhouse until the spring planting season.Friends LCGC planting acorns in January

Gail Dimson, general manager of the Friends LCGC noted, “We donated the pots, ID tags and the City donated the soil. We potted approximately 522 Red Oak, 162 Burr Oak, 180 White Oak acorns, plus 50 White Spruce seedlings.” For the next four months the pots were cared for by volunteers and City staff until they were picked up in June.

The Friends of the London Civic Garden Complex is a non-profit volunteer group focused on the education and promotion of all aspects of horticulture. Dimson said, “The Friends LCGC first became acquainted with ReForest London through our 2008 Greenhouse Tour. After, I became a ‘Tree Guru’ with ReForest London and ideas on how our group could help began to evolve.”
Gail Dimson
“As our group is focused on ‘growing’ in the City of London,” Dimson went on to say, “it certainly is fitting for us to contribute to London’s Million Tree Challenge to keep our city green.” The Friends are well aware the Million Tree Challenge involves a great deal. “What comes first is awareness and educating the citizens of London on the importance of planting trees.” Dimson explained, “With climate change and invasive non-native insects, and disease, this message needs to be heard. The Friends LCGC will help get this message out. We are keen on assisting ReForest London and we hope to continue to expand our involvement with them. We are growing with you.” Thank you MTC Partners Friends LCGC for raising over 900 baby trees in support of London’s Million Tree Challenge!

Saunders Secondary School
Students at Saunders Secondary School in a class called Green Industries taught by Karin Lawrence, planted acorns and took care of the little oak trees as they grew this past winter. In the spring, they donated 100 oak seedlings to London’s Million Tree Challenge where these baby trees were used in seedling giveaway events for people to plant on their property.

Teacher Karin Lawrence comes by her appreciation of trees naturally. She explained, “I spent the first 30 years of my life as part of the family business - Cinderella Gardens - one London’s first tree nurseries. My mom, Helga Reinhardt, taught landscaping and gardening for the PUC and Fanshawe College for years.  It is only natural that I would want my students to develop an appreciation for trees.”Oak seedlings grown by Saunders students

Saunders, a big high school with a diverse student population, has a large technology department. Lawrence is a member of this department where she teaches a Green Industries course that includes units in horticulture, landscape design, forestry and agriculture. Renovations are underway in the technology department that include a greenhouse.

Lawrence said, “I was looking for meaningful projects for my students to get involved in and develop links with the community. This included working with the City of London redesigning the green space behind the school and it was through these contacts that I got in touch with Amber at ReForest London.”

ReForest London’s project manager Amber Cantell purchased acorns from St. Williams Nursery and gave them to the Saunders’ students to grow. Lawrence noted, “The students found it interesting to watch the acorns sprout and become saplings.  About 50% of the acorns planted germinated successfully. Amber did talk to my students about becoming a tree hostel and this is certainly something we would consider.” Well done Saunders! Your contribution to the Million Tree Challenge makes a difference.

Oakridge Secondary School
Students at Oakridge Secondary School also took part in an oak seedling growing activity this past winter. Greg Burns, who teaches Developmental Education at Oakridge, gave his class of eight students the responsibility to plant acorns and care for the baby trees.
Oak seedling in Timmies cup
Inspired by a seed collection workshop he took at Walpole Island through Trees Ontario, Burns collected Red and Black Oak acorns and introduced his class to the idea of growing trees in Tim Hortons coffee cups on their classroom’s windowsill. “Sometimes I take my class for walks to the Byron Bog.” Burns said, “They are interested in nature and liked the direct link to the oaks that grow around the school but are also the school’s symbol.” Oakridge’s original Latin motto is "Nostrum viret robur" (Our strength grows as the Oaks) so it is quite fitting that the students grew oak trees.

Burns added, “Each student grew a couple of oak seedlings and one other class took some as well. Some of the baby oaks were given to other teachers, some were taken home by the students to plant and one was given to a retiring custodian as a gift. They could tell he was pleased at such a thoughtful gift.”

With this first time growing experience under their belts, Greg Burns has offered that his class will grow more to donate to London’s Million Tree Challenge. Great job Greg Burns and Oakridge students for your efforts with tree crowing and keeping our Forest City growing strong for future generations.

MTC Partner WINMAR London wanted to do something to help support London’s Million Tree Challenge and also create a fun, friendly competition within the London State Farm and The Co-operators offices.  Spearheaded by Krystie Martin, marketing representative at WINMAR London a spring tree growing challenge was launched.
The Cooperators winners planting a tree
ReForest London staff are paticularly excited about this unique inititive that WINMAR undertook, as we have not heard about this type of challenge before.

Martin noted, “Every little bit helps and together we can help London reach the ultimate goal of a million new trees.” Calling it a ‘Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring Tree Growing Campaign’, Martin sent out a message to State Farm and The Cooperators offices in London issuing the challenge to grow the tallest maple tree before the last day of spring. The winning office would receive a catered luncheon.

WINMAR purchased 40 maple saplings and distributed them to participants. Martin said, “I found some offices were a little hesitant at first at having a tree in their office but after a couple months they commented how much they really enjoyed and had fun with the competition.”

The tree growing challenge was a fun, friendly challenge and created a lot of banter between offices. It also developed a greater appreciation of trees and their importance among participants. Staff at each office took the maples home and planted them. WINMAR staff also made sure that trees were taken home and planted and Krystie Martin dropped six healthy maples off to ReForest London for use in park plantings. Thank you WINMAR London, State Farm and The Co-operators for your creative support of the Million Tree Challenge. For more infomation about this challenge, see this article.

In response to many inquiries from Londoners about donating trees to the Million Tree Challenge, this past spring saw the launch of a new ‘TreeCycle’ program. Amber Cantell, ReForest London’s project manager said,  “The way the program works is simple – rather than throwing out or Donated Treecycle trees!Treecycle first donor Brian with Ambercomposting extra self-seeded trees from your yards, Londoners can TreeCycle their trees by bringing them to this event to get used in various tree planting projects around London.”

For a first time event, hosted by ReForest London’s Parks, Natural Areas and Roadways Action Team on June 2nd, Treecycling was a great success. Individuals who brought non-invasive trees 1 foot tall or greater received a charitable receipt of $10 per tree for their donation. A total of 131 non-invasive trees were donated and have since been worked into a variety of spring Million Tree Challenge initiatives, including neighbourhood and park planting programs.

Many thanks to all the Londoners who participated and helped make the event a success. Since this went so well, we're already planning our second event to be held this fall on Sunday, September 8, from 1 -3 pm at the ReForest London offices. See details here.

So you can see that a wide variety of people grew some trees for London’s Million Tree Challenge. We trust they have found good homes and are thriving. Creative ideas and this type of involvement is a very welcome Partner activity that can be of a very low cost but make a big difference in getting trees in the ground, so contact us if this is of interest. Happy growing!