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Neighbourhood ReLeaf Launch Weekend

Project type: 
Neighbourhood Re-Leaf

On May 21st, 2016, forty-nine volunteers gathered at Rick Hansen Public School for the first Neighbourhood Tree Blitz of the season as a part of ReForest London's new program, Neighbourhood ReLeaf. The goal?  To plant 16,000 new trees and distribute 19,000 seedlings in London over the next two years.  

After program coordinator Skylar Franke welcomed the crowd, Frank Pyka (Trees Committee Chair for ReForest London) encouraged the “army of foresters” to celebrate what they had come together to do. The crowd was supported by community leaders and local politicians, including Ward 12 City Councillor Harold Usher, MPP Peggy Sattler, MP Kate Young and MP Peter Fragiskatos. 

“What you are doing this morning will spread,” Usher said, rallying the crowd.  “I know you see a lot of trees but we need more for our health and for the future of London.”  His enthusiasm for the event, the project, and trees themselves was contagious.

Ross MacDonald, a volunteer from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and local MPP Peggy Sattler were on hand to presented Frank Pyka and ReForest London with a plaque in recognition of the generous two year Grow Grant to support the ongoing work of the organization and its volunteers.

In celebration of the first Neighbourhood Tree Blitz of the program, a ceremonial tree planting was held at a local family’s home on Ponderosa Crescent.  The Laithwaite family, April, Brooklyn, Braeden, along with local dignitaries gathered on the front lawn to kick-off the event by planting a tulip tree.  

When asked what planting this tree meant to them, Braeden said he wanted to help with The Million Tree Challenge and that trees are important because they produce more oxygen.  Brooklyn (accompanied by special stuffed friend, Binky) said that trees are what we live on and our planet is important.  Both were huge helpers with the planting and were very eager to volunteer with ReForest London again soon.

London West MPP, Peggy Sattler, had a lot to say about why trees are important to her and to her community.  “Trees are a way of contributing to better human health.  They mean peace, security, stability, a feeling of calmness and serenity.  I think that being in touch with nature just makes us feel at peace ourselves.”

Once the mulch was spread, the Laithwaite family and all those gathered expressed their joy and appreciation for the event; one that is sure to bring our community closer together through the importance of trees and a greater appreciation of nature.

The rest of the ReForest London volunteers spent the two hours going door-to-door in the White Oaks community offering free trees to the local residents. Over 130 trees were distributed that morning to happy homeowners.

Thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Richard and Beryl Ivey, a fund within the London Community Foundation, TreeMe and the City of London  and KPMG for being lead funders on this project.

Storytellers: Kate Sepi & Angela Romanoff