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Planting the Future: Growing Seedlings in our Schools

This January, we were thrilled to get our hands dirty once again, as we embark on our third year of growing native tree seedlings in schools across London. This year we have partnered with 16 schools to grow over 2000 seedlings in classrooms all across London! Since we launched this activity in 2015, over 8300 seedlings have been planted in 43 schools across London & Middlesex, with the support of thousands of students who plant, water and care for baby trees in their classrooms.

Classes in local schools are given the opportunity to participate in a seedling planting session with our staff. Students participate in an age-appropriate lesson on trees, learning about tree benefits, native species, and London’s Million Tree Challenge. For intermediate & secondary students, additional topics such as Emerald Ash Borer, urban development, and climate change are discussed. 

Our staff then lead a planting demonstration, showing students how to properly prepare pots and soil, and how to plant various tree seeds to the appropriate depth. We also provide a small selection of conifer seedlings, to allow the students the chance to observe a small seedling’s growth over the coming months while they wait for their young seeds to germinate and grow.

This year, we planted Red Maple, Shagbark Hickory, Swamp White Oak, White Cedar and White Spruce seedlings. This variety of native trees will continue to enhance London’s urban forest for generations to come. Our seed is sourced from a variety of seed suppliers in Southwestern Ontario, to ensure that we are planting trees which will be well adapted to our local climate.

Students from kindergarten right up to high school genuinely enjoy this activity. It provides a unique hands-on learning opportunity, with connections to their curriculum and to their local community. Some students are seasoned veterans who have lots of experience with soil and plants, while others have never planted seeds or plants before! (We regularly hear chimes of “What’s that smell? It smells so earthy in here!”) We believe these types of experiences lead to a greater appreciation of trees and foster stewardship among future generations.


Thanks to all the students who’ve planted with us over the past month. We can’t wait to see how your trees grow!


This activity is a part of the School Community Tree Challenge, and supports the Million Tree Challenge. Interested in having your school participate? Contact Brianne Curry at for more information.  

 We gratefully acknowledge support of the Ontario 150 Youth Partnerships Fund, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and CN EcoConnexions.