Inspiring Reflections from our Planting Crews!

The New Year has just begun and we’re busy preparing for our spring 2021 tree planting season! As we look ahead, I find myself reflecting on last year’s accomplishments. Despite having to postpone our spring season as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, we still managed to plant 1,176 native trees and shrubs on private property. Furthermore, we successfully expanded into parts of Durham Region, making it our busiest and most rewarding planting season yet!


To make up for the service disruptions caused by initial lockdown measures last spring, we had two very strong teams out in the field throughout the fall. The teams planted and delivered native trees and shrubs to the participants of our subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program. While we all worked together toward a common goal of enhancing the urban forest, each team member had unique thoughts and feelings to share about their tree planting experience with LEAF. 











James with a swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) in Oshawa
James McKenna - Lead Urban Tree Planter
This was my first season planting with LEAF and it was a very positive experience for me! Due to the lockdown, so many people were home and it was a pleasure to be able to speak with them and see the look on their faces when they saw their newly planted tree. It was a tough year for many people so it meant a lot to me to be able to do something that brought some enjoyment into their lives. It was especially rewarding to know that the work I did this year will continue to bring happiness to our clients for decades to come, while also having a positive impact on the planet.












Tamar with a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in Toronto
Tamar Goldberg - Urban Tree Planter
Planting trees draws forth the future. After planting a tree, I step back and say: this tree could outlive me and the next few generations will reap its gifts. The ripple effects of trees are unpredictable. Every person has a relationship with some tree and this could become somebody's tree. It could save someone's life.












Adriana watering a Freeman maple (Acer freemanii) in Whitby
Adriana Rezai-Stevens - Residential Planting Programs Field Coordinator
Planting trees during a global pandemic was a first for LEAF. We also launched our program in four new municipalities within Durham Region for the very first time! From a soil perspective, it was interesting to “dig in” and compare the soil composition across the region. Getting to meet people that were excited about the expansion of our program into their area was also very reassuring. Since a lot of folks have transitioned into work from home, I really enjoyed that a lot of people were home and were interested in the planting process. Everyone seemed that much more invested in the trees and shrubs they were receiving, which is super important to ensure that these plants will receive the proper care they need to establish and thrive. 










Kevin watering a pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) in Georgina
Kevin Myers - Urban Tree Planter
The distinction between space and place is an interesting one: space is simply a bordered geographical location; whereas a place is a space that has been imbued with meaning. Places are where humans have chosen to congregate, find peace and tend as part of themselves and their cultural world. It's incredible the number of times we were able to go into a barren backyard and create a place. To have a tree planted imbues a yard with meaning; it becomes more than a simple space. Whether it's tending to a young, growing tree, harvesting fruit or imagining grandkids someday swinging from the branches, a tree becomes part of us and our private world. No matter how cold it was as we planted, I was warmed by the thought of creating places. Add on top of that increasing biodiversity and the urban forest? That is why planting trees is incredible work.


As for me, I’ve never been more proud to lead such a fantastic, hard-working team. I was continually impressed and inspired by the passion, strength and dedication of each planter this fall. Their commitment to planting native trees and shrubs in backyards across Toronto, York Region and Durham Region was what made our fall season so successful. The joy of growing our urban forest is something our team was happy to pass along to the residents of these areas and we are excited to pick back up in spring 2021! 

If working with our planting teams and adding some biodiversity to your backyard interests you, then we recommend applying to our subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program! We accept applicants year-round and are already processing applications for our next planting and delivery season.

Brenna Anstett is the Residential Planting Programs Manager at LEAF.

LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property. The program is supported by the City of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York, the City of Markham, the Town of Newmarket, the Town of Ajax, the Regional Municipality of Durham, the Township of Scugog, the City of Pickering, the City of Oshawa, the Town of Whitby and Ontario Power Generation.