As part of the TCHC Planting and Stewardship Program, LEAF supports tenants' efforts to take care of newly planted trees in their communities. One of these incredible tenants, Jason Sinclair, cares for 12 trees that were planted through the program. Since becoming involved, Jason also participated in LEAF’s Tree Tenders Volunteer Training and volunteered to plant trees with LEAF through our Community Tree Planting Events. Going beyond his time with LEAF, Jason is also coordinating the construction of a new community garden at his TCHC property.
Honey locust tree cared for by Jason Sinclair. © 2023 Jason Sinclair / LEAF
Our Community Housing Stewardship Coordinator, Jeremy Lewis, caught up with Jason to talk more about his experiences and motivations in caring for his community’s trees.
Discussing his personal learning journey, Jason shared:
“I didn’t expect myself to become so interested in the study of trees, the more I learned the more it grabbed me, and the more it grabbed me the more I wanted to learn… The therapeutic aspect of it was something that I was drawn to, and then learning why it is therapeutic is something I got hooked on… it connects with everything in life. Without trees we wouldn’t be here, so that’s the starting point of it.”
Jason’s mission now is to share with others the passion of community greening as well as the psychological benefits that it brought him. The key, according to Jason, is personal connection:
“The personal connection [between community greening] and my life is the thing that keeps me wanting to be involved with this… and creating that passion with others… it can definitely provide some of those mental health stabilities that are needed in the community.”
Hackberry tree cared for by Jason Sinclair. © 2023 Jason Sinclair / LEAF
In addition to serving his community, Jason described how spiritually rewarding tree planting and stewardship can be. Jason shared this experience from a Community Tree Planting Event:
“When I was involved with a [LEAF] tree planting event, I was sitting there kneeling, holding this baby tree in my hands, it was such a comfortable feeling, not just physically but spiritually in myself being able to just sit and reflect and hold something that is going to start so small, but grow so big and have such an impact on the world. There is no better seat, I feel, than that.”
Jason also described how his experiences with LEAF has culminated in leading a project to build a community garden:
“I’m working on building a community garden. Because of my involvement with LEAF and all the experience that I gained, it’s helped me connect better with the garden, which has led to partnerships with agencies and individuals in the community, so that’s very meaningful to me, that this first initiative has branched out to other aspects of community building.”
A highlight from our program that Jason shared was attending the recognition event in 2022 where program participants and partners celebrated our shared accomplishments.
“The recognition events were very meaningful to me. Just seeing different people from different backgrounds all coming together to celebrate a successful year of planting trees, there’s something very profound and therapeutic in that as well. I call it the round table of goodness.”
Participants and partners celebrate their shared accomplishments to green Toronto Community Housing Corporation communities at an annual recognition event. To the left and right are two of 49 trees that have been planted through the TCHC Planting and Stewardship Program at Gordonridge Place. © 2022 Lam Tran / LEAF
To help motivate fellow community members to get involved in planting and stewardship, Jason paraphrased a timeless proverb:
“‘It’s a selfless act to plant a tree, knowing that you may never get to sit underneath its shade.’ To me that’s a very noble thing to do – knowing that you’re helping future generations live in a good clean world … a better world.”
Thank you, Jason, for enriching our understanding of the connection between trees and people, and for the work you do through the TCHC Planting and Stewardship Program!
Jeremy Lewis is the Community Housing Stewardship Coordinator at LEAF.
The TCHC Planting and Stewardship Program is implemented by LEAF, TCHC and the City of Toronto. It is funded by the City of Toronto through an Urban Forestry Grant and the TD Green Space Grant program from TD Bank Group and the Arbor Day Foundation.