Christie Pits Trees Receive Tender Loving Care

The Christie Pits Adopt-a-Park-Tree (AAPT) program launched on Sunday, September 11th, 2016. Preparation for this event began months ago, in May. Five Young Urban Forest Leaders -- Fletcher, myself (Lucy), Kristina, Meredith, and Monica -- were committed to becoming the best tree whisperers the park would ever see. Our end goal was to engage with the community and ensure that Christie Pits’ park trees would be well cared for in the years to come!


We became acquainted with every corner of the park by inventorying each and every tree - this included upwards of 300 trees! It took us countless visits, but we soon grew to love each unique characteristic of the park. As we explored Christie Pits in ways we had never seen before, we began to craft our event. We selected trees and spaces with the most interesting stories to tell.


Tour participants examine EAB specimens

Our tour began beneath the thinned canopy of several ash trees. We had a large gathering of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed people for a Sunday morning. Meredith greeted the participants and explained the sad story of the ash trees across North America. With samples of the Emerald Ash Borer larvae, and a piece of wood showing their destructive work, tour attendees learned how this beetle is causing stress to our urban canopy.


The tour group examines a mature tree for signs of stress

Kristina led the tour to a beautiful eastern white pine. She shared her admiration for this unique tree species and described how to identify them during a pleasant walk in the forest or city park. Kristina also highlighted the important ecological and historical roles of Ontario’s provincial tree.


Tour leader points our features of a tree


We visited a Kentucky coffeetree, hackberry tree, tulip tree, sycamore tree and what we believe to be the oldest tree in Christie Pits - an American elm in the centre of the park. We gathered around, and craned our necks to appreciate the great beauty of this tree.

After learning about the stories of these trees in Christie Pits park, we took a moment to hear from some of our special guests. Erin MacDonald, our team lead who helped us shape our event and supported us throughout the last months, spoke about LEAF and their commitment towards Toronto’s tree canopy. We heard from Jode Roberts - our Friends of Christie Pits contact who is incredibly connected to the community - and he promoted the AAPT program. Finally, we had the pleasure of an unexpected performance by ukulele-wielding city councillor Mike Layton. He sang beautifully about a flea that was on a bird, and a bird which was in its nest, the nest which was on a branch, a branch which belonged to a tree, and a tree which was in a hole in the ground with green grass growing all around. By the second verse of Mike’s song, all attendees were grinning from ear to ear and singing along!


Councillor Layton serenades the crowd


With much enthusiasm, we carried on to our tree mulching demonstration. Event attendees learned the correct procedures for mulching trees and proceeded to mulch many trees on the southern side of the park. With every bit of mulch having gone to good use, we led the group down to the wood-burning oven in the centre of Christie Pits park, where we enjoyed warm, savoury pastries and other light refreshments.


Young helpers fill mulch buckets


We Young Urban Forest Leaders relaxed and basked in the success of our collaborative efforts: we had succeeded in engaging with the community, and watched with an intrinsic sense of accomplishment and happiness as we helped participants sign up to adopt park trees at Christie Pits park.


Fletcher Herman, Kristina Banatova, Lucy Szczesniak, Meredith Gibson, and Monica Khaper are participants in LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders Program.

Photos taken by Torie Gervais.

The Young Urban Forest Leaders and Adopt-a-Park-Tree programs are supported by the City of Toronto.