Typically, our planting events are open to large groups of both volunteers and the general public. However, we decided to limit participant numbers for the month of May to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. With a small team of just nine people, it was all hands on deck to get these native species into the ground in just three days!
Five people in the group were new seasonal staff experiencing their first planting event with LEAF – including myself! We were all so excited to finally get out into the field and get our hands dirty. It was a hot week and the sun was blazing, but we were equipped with our masks, gloves, shovels, sunscreen, lots of water and a strong passion for the enhancement of the urban forest.
What kept us motivated for all three days was the knowledge that the native trees and shrubs we were planting would provide various environmental and socioeconomic benefits to this King community. Some of these benefits include creating habitat for wildlife, improving air quality, providing shade, reducing stormwater runoff, creating space for recreational activity and so much more!
By the end of our last planting day, we had planted 343 trees and shrubs! The feeling of accomplishment was palpable as we took a moment to look over at the mini forest we had planted. It was like a breath of fresh air! The space looked livelier and the wildlife was already taking to the new plants – bees were buzzing about and butterflies were flitting from plant to plant. Residents were also very interested in the new plants and happily came to check out the space as well as thank us for the work we had done. It was a minor foreshadowing of the new life and activity that would continue to bloom there in the coming years. Just knowing this fact alone made all the hard work worth it for our small LEAF team!
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in Ontario, we are looking forward to hosting volunteers at our Community Planting events once again. If you are interested in growing the urban forest, become a LEAF volunteer!
Danielle De Vera is the Naturalization Assistant at LEAF.
Our community planting and stewardship events are supported by GrandTrees Climate Solutions, the Township of King, the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Power Generation.