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Multicultural Tree Planting at Mildred Barons Park on May 2, 2015

Project type: 
Park Naturalization

Reporter: Heather A. Rennalls

On Saturday May 2, 2015, ReForest London had their first ever volunteer multicultural tree planting. About 48 volunteers planted 327 native trees and shrubs at Mildred Barons Park in the north section of London. Project Manager, Amber Cantell, informed the group that Reforest London was founded by concerned citizens in 2005 to plant native trees and shrubs in London to enhance environmental and human health within the Forest City. Amber also explained the Million Tree Challenge.  Launched in June 2011, the goal is to plant a million trees in ten years. 

Tree Planting at Mildred Barons Park

 Tree Planting at Mildred Barons Park

ReForest London teamed up with the Cross Cultural Learner Centre (CCLC) to invite people of all cultures to the planting event. Amber thanked both TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the Government of Canada - Citizenship and Immigration for supporting this project. Amber also introduced a few staff from ReForest London: Partnerships and Marketing Manager Sheila Creighton and Project Assistant Sommer Foster, ReForest Tree Gurus were Ting Ting Zhang, Sue Elliot, and Mark Fenton.

Heather Seddon, Youth Facilitator and Ban Abood, Group Facilitators from CCLC introduced two speakers to tell their stories about the value of trees from their cultures. CCLC had 32 people volunteer for the tree planting. The first speaker was Asmaa Salim from Iraq. She explained how she had a farm in her native country where her and her family would visit every weekend. On their farm they grew plum trees. She thanked Canada. In further conversation with Asmaa, she explained that she was a fashion designer in Iraq and how she designed the blouse and jacket she was wearing. Asmaa also described they had a lake on their farm and that had carp which they would eat. Asmaa moved to London three years ago where she lives in her first home in Canada. Asmaa volunteers at CCLC were she teaches sewing every Thursday afternoon.  











       Heather Seddon & Ban Abood from CCLC                                Asmaa Salim from Iraq

The second speaker was Iman Abbood and her husband Muataz Mhammed. Also from Iraq, Iman explained that they had a large garden that had seven palm trees and orange trees. Along with her husband and daughter they were volunteering as a way to express their thanks to Canada.  Muafaz had his wife translate that his dream in Canada was to live on a large farm and have his wife help out. Newcomers to Canada, Iman cited that the family moved to London 40 days ago. On their large garden they also grew roses and lemon trees.                                     :

Judy Gordon, Senior Relationship Manger from TD Bank explained that since 1990, TD Bank has almost $30,000.00 in London on environmental projects through the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. 

Shawn Lewis, Constituency Assistant to Member of Parliament to Irene Mathyssen, cited that "its’ ironic, Irene was elected the same time ReForest London started". She has helped out with tree plantings and provided funding for ReForest London for their Canada Summer jobs. Shawn stated that “London could do with more trees in North London.” He also explained how due to her other MP duties, Irene Mathyssen would be arriving later that afternoon to help plant trees. 











                Judy Gordon from TD Bank                              Shawn Lewis from Irene Mathyssen's Office









       Amber & Sommer gave a tree planting                      demonstration


         Volunteers listening to guest speakers                                               

When planting a tree, the first step is ensuring that the hole dug is double the width of the pot and the depth is the same level to ground. By placing the pot into the ground will ensure the hole is the correct measurement. By forming a V with your fingers and placing beside the trunk, you can lift the plant out of the pot. Loosen the dirt, place it back into the hole then cover the hole with the dirt that 

was dug out. Amber cited the next step was very important. Once the soil is in, tap down the soil by walking around the plant. To ensure the plant is snug in the ground, use the V formation of your fingers and lightly tug on the plant to ensure it is securely in the hole. To prevent the bark from being eaten by rabbits during the winter, the plant’s bark was wrapped with a tree collar. Then another important step was explained. Amber informed the group that a full bucket of mulch was needed per plant. The best way to use mulch is to leave a doughnut shaped hole around the plant. This would prevent decaying mulch from interfering with the roots. After the presentation, volunteers were ready to plant.









 Volunteers starting to plant all the trees








   Kristin Haight from Argyle Community Association                      Shawn Lewis with his nephew

Volunteer Kristin Haight wanted to thank ReForest London and the volunteers for planting. Kristin is the Vice-Chairman of the Argyle Community Association in which the tree planting was in that area.





According to Project Assistant Sommer who spoke to someone working at the lumber yard next door who was a former teacher, Mildred Baron Park (located on Kathleen Avenue off Dundas Street) was the site of a school. Built around 1913, the school was called as S.S. 23. By 1951 it was named School Area No. 2. The school was renamed in November 1960 to Mildred B. Baron Elementary School to honour long-time teacher Miss Mildred B. Baron who taught at the school since 1923. According to Sommer’s source, the school was demolished in 1975.









In an hours’ time, about half the trees and shurbs-160-were planted.

MP Irene Mathyssen showed up just in time for the group picture. In her presentation she too thanked TD Bank for their support as well as ReForest London. “We have a role to play in making environment conscious.” 

ReForest Staff Amber Cantell introduces MP Irene Mathyssen

By 3:14 p.m. the last tree was planted by MP Irene Mathyssen and Kristin Haight. 

It was a beautiful day with the planting of 327 trees and shrubs at Mildred Barons Park in London. It was as if Mother Nature herself smiled down her approval of this venture, with ReForest London putting the forest back into Forest City. Volunteers were able to take a tree sapling to grow in their yards as part of the Million Tree Challenge.