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©2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) outbreak has decimated the ash tree population throughout the GTA, including York Region. Once an ash tree is infected by the tiny insect, it will likely die within 3 years. To counter the damage done by the EAB, diverse species of trees need to be planted and cared for. This is where the LEAF community steps in.

Last year LEAF volunteers, partners and staff went out in Machell Park, in Aurora to plant 300 trees and shrubs. This year, on July 22nd we went back to the park with a team of volunteer Tree Tenders to care for the trees again. Community stewardship is crucial in order to protect and regenerate our urban forests and this event was an excellent example of community engagement leading to results!

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

The Tree Tender volunteer team


At around 10:00 am, members from the community started to roll in. Before the actual mulching event our very own arborist Tooba Shakeel led a mini tour to talk about urban forests. We discussed the attributes of some of the native trees planted at Machell Park, what factors residents should consider if they are interested in planting these species in their backyards and the effects of the EAB on our urban forests. Jillaine, our Communications Coordinator, also made an appearance to talk about the ‘BeesLoveTrees’ campaign, an initiative designed to raise awareness about our native bees. Bees play a crucial role in our ecosystem. The native bee population has been negatively affected by disease, pesticide use, climate change and habitat loss. We need people like you to speak out for bees and help protect our best pollinators. Check out our Bees Love Trees page for more information.

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

Tooba Shakeel gives an overview of the site and our goals.


© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

Me demonstrating my extremely precise mulch pouring technique, while everyone watches in awe.

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

Our #BeesLoveTrees pop up booth provided lots of bee info for participants.


After the mini tree tour and mulching demo, we were ready to get to work. Within seconds, everyone grabbed buckets and gloves (safety first) and began mulching. 

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

Teamwork at its finest.

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

Kayla showing off her mulching skills.

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

The mulch pile begins to shrink!


Within an hour all the mulch was gone! There was one problem, not all the trees were mulched. Without hesitation, Tooba led everyone to another mulch pile (leftover from last year).

© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF 

What do you do when you have trees in need of mulching but you don’t have any mulch?


© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

You get Tooba to take you to another mulch pile


© 2017 Nick Charalambu / LEAF

The second mulch pile.


After utilizing the second mulch pile, we were able to mulch all the trees we intended to mulch. The mulch will improve the soil as it breaks down over time while protecting the trees from damage and ensuring they are able to compete against invasive plants. The day was a huge success! We used up all the mulch, it didn’t rain and everyone had an awesome time. At the end of the event, participants also learned about LEAF’s Backyard Tree Planting Program and how residents can support the urban forest and native pollinators by planting native species in their own yards!

I want to end with a thank you to all who showed up to the event. I also want to thank our amazing volunteer team, who came out early to help set up and stayed late to help with the clean-up. Events like these absolutely cannot happen without community involvement. I also want to thank our friends at the Town of Aurora, York Region and Ontario Power Generation for helping us make this event happen.


Photographs were taken by Nick Charalambu. For more photos of the event, visit our Facebook album.


Arsh Grewal is LEAF’s Education and Outreach Assistant.

Our Backyard Tree Planting Program is supported by York Region.

Our Tree Tenders Volunteer Training Program is supported by York Region and Ontario Power Generation.

Our #BeesLoveTrees campaign is supported by Ontario Power Generation.


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