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Celebrating 10 Years with Kelly and Vida Greene


Kelly and Vida Greene with their tree at Thames Park in 2005.

Ten years later, Kelly and Vida return to the Gibbons Park planting site.

In celebration of ReForest London’s tenth anniversary, mother and daughter, Kelly and Vida Greene revisited the site of the cedar tree they planted together in 2005. Kelly had heard about the tree planting event through email, and decided to bring five-year-old Vida as a good way to teach her early on the importance of replenishing and honouring trees. The project was one of ReForest London's first of several partnership projects with the Old South Community Organization

Kelly recalls the misty weather of that day ten years ago in Thames Park.“We learned a lot about how to use a shovel when it’s wet, digging into muddy ground,” said Kelly. Although Vida can only vaguely remember the planting so long ago, she understands the importance of tree planting and naturalization. “There are a lot of areas where there once were a lot of trees they have been cut down to make room for new houses and buildings,” said Vida, “it’s important to naturalize those areas.”

The cedar tree that Kelly and Vida planted in 2005 unfortunately did not survive, which is a testament to the nature of naturalization plantings, that not all trees make it. However, the trees that did survive the ten years have grown to be large trees, providing shade, and other environmental benefits to the park.

Kelly has lived in London for twenty-six years, and graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree. She is a member of the Six Nations Reserve in Ohsweken, Ontario, and is of Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) descent.  Her work is shown in an annual exhibit called “First Nations Art” at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario.

Vida and her older brother were born in London. Vida is currently a grade ten student at London South Collegiate Institute. Her favourite subjects include art and English, and she is interested in studying mental health therapy after high school graduation. Perhaps Vida’s studies will include the health benefits of encounters with nature and reduction of stress through trees.

In addition to tree planting, Kelly also gardens with both of her children. The Greenes have a long narrow yard, with many different trees and plants. “My husband has planted a lot of trees, we can’t have any more, it’s full,” said Kelly. Their yard is home to trees such as maple, pine, elm, oak, cedar, and a crab-apple tree which was planted for Kelly by her husband and children on Mother’s Day.

Kelly enjoys spending time in places with trees around, and has taught her children to be observant of trees. The two hundred and fifty year-old oak tree at Westminster Ponds, known as “The Meeting Tree”, is one of Kelly’s favourite trees. “I’ve sat by the tree and written in my journal,” said Kelly, who also admits she has tried to hug the tree, but it was too big for her to wrap her arms around it. The white birch trees on Bruce Street are another favourite of Kelly’s. “We used to live on Bruce, and when I walked my son to school, the trees looked like they were dancing,” said Kelly.

In recent years, Kelly has participated in various other plantings in London. She planted at Watson Street Park with Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, and at Carfrae Park. In 2012, she planted a natural structure in the shape of a longhouse at the Woodland Cultural Centre, conveying her Haudenosaunee identity.  Kelly, passionate about green spaces and sustainable ecosytems, hopes to pass on the importance of contributing to neighbourhood parks to her children and others in London as well.