Brenna: How did you first become interested in the urban forest?
Meghan: My urban forest journey first began when my grandfather rescued a young pine tree from his cottage and transplanted it to my second childhood home in Burlington, where it still stands tall today! From there, my love for the environment blossomed. Growing up, my family had a backyard composter, I was a part of my school’s recycling team in the 1980’s and we always went for afternoon walks on the Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment. Then when my husband and I got married, we tried to make our celebration as “green” as possible. Our invitations were made from recycled paper, our meal was made of local, organic food, our wedding favours were homemade, organic gingerbread cookies in the shape of a leaf and we contributed to a tree-planting foundation to offset the carbon put into the atmosphere by the planes and cars used by our guests to come to our wedding! Now, as a homeowner in Midtown Toronto, I’ve learned to appreciate both the beauty and protection trees have given our home.
Brenna: How did you find out about LEAF? How have you been involved?
Meghan: I first heard about LEAF from a fellow teacher, who shared the same goal of making our lives as environmentally friendly as possible. He had arranged for 6 trees to be planted on our school’s playground, and as one of the leaders of our Green Team, I helped the students with regular watering. Then, when it came time to remove a dangerously leaning and ant-infested tree from my own property, I started doing research on tree replacements and remembered LEAF. Toronto Forestry said the replacement tree could be planted in either our yard or our neighbour’s yard, so we were adamant that it be planted in ours as we wanted to nurture it! We purchased a Freeman Maple through LEAF which we proudly watch grow from our kitchen table. Soon after our tree purchase, we ordered a native songbird kit from LEAF to be planted on a hill beside our house. The grass there was always tough to cut and we wanted to add some colour and attract wildlife to our property. This year, we were excited to order another large garden kit for the corner of our front yard!
Brenna: Please share an “ah-ha” or defining moment you had while dealing with LEAF.
Meghan: When we first contacted LEAF to help us plant a new tree, we had a consultation with an arborist who checked the soil and sunlight and helped us choose a tree that would have the best chance at success in our yard. We were sad to have lost the original tree and wanted a quick fix with a bigger tree, but LEAF explained the merits of planting a younger tree which would be more adaptable to its new home. Soon after, an efficient and professional planting team arrived. I remember watching the care they took in planting the tree and placing the mulch. They also left us directions on how to care for our new tree! Our two young daughters were able to participate in the whole process too! Last summer, our oldest daughter decided to raise money all on her own to buy some milkweed plants from the David Suzuki Foundation for our front yard. We’ve always tried to teach our children to respect our trees, plants, animals, fellow humans and the earth, and through actions- like planting with LEAF-our daughter has implicitly made that one of her own values!
Brenna: Why is the urban forest important to you and what message would you like to share with others to encourage them to become involved?
Meghan: The urban forest is important to me because of what it does to our property, the city and the things that call it home. It gives our kids a place to play hide and seek and build secret forts under, provides habitat and food for wildlife, provides shade from the hot sun and fresh air to breathe, and it looks beautiful! Many homes in our neighbourhood were built more than 50 years ago and sadly, it seems as though there is a large tree being cut down on our street every month. I would encourage those who are losing trees to become involved in the LEAF program and have a new tree planted too! It was so easy, and the arborists and staff are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and want the best for our urban forest!
Brenna: Thanks Meghan, for all that you do to support our urban forest!
Photos by Brenna Anstett and Meghan Lockington-Minns.
Brenna Anstett is an ISA certified arborist and LEAF’s Field Operations Coordinator.
The Backyard Tree Planting Program is supported by York Region, the Town of Newmarket, the City of Toronto, Ontario Power Generation, Toronto Hydro, and the Town of Ajax.