On May 4th, Human Impacts Institute (Hii) led a street tree stewardship event as part of our Growing Our Roots program with students from the Green School and volunteers from Nautica. Participants had taken part in an April event where students and Nautica employees were paired up in co-mentoring sustainability teams to develop environmental leadership skills in the office and the classroom. As part two in the collaboration, Hii reuinited the two groups in caring for street trees near the Green School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Even though it rained throughout the whole three hour event, volunteers and students were eager to get outside and start caring for trees in the neighborhood and successfully cared for over 40 local trees!
With tools provided from MillionTreesNYC and New York City Parks Department, participants weeded and aerated the tree bed soil. The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s Greenbelt Native Plant Centerdonated roughly 350 native perennials in which participants planted in the aerated beds, helping young trees with water retention and reducing stormwater runoff. Roughly six native species plants were planted per bed ( goldenrod, flattened oatgrass,and white wood aster, among others), to beautify the tree pits and discourage passersby from allowing dogs, trash and stepping in tree beds. After the perennials were planted, participants applied mulch around the trees, further enhancing the “look” of the blocks, while protecting the roots of trees from the elements.
As the participants continued their tasks, community members passing by stopped to thank them for their hard work and ask questions, including one woman who remarked, “I wouldn’t be out here in the rain! But thank you, this is exactly what this neighborhood needs.”
In addition to the long-lasting impacts on the neighborhood aesthetics and tree heath, participants also added an outreach component to their day by placing informational tree tags on stewarded trees. These tags give credit to the Green School, Nautica, MillionTreesNYC, and Hii for their participation and awareness on the importance of street trees to NYC. On the back, the tags give an interesting fact about street trees.
Following the tree stewardship event, Hii staff met with NY City Councilmember Diana Reyna’s office to discuss partnerships in greening North Brooklyn.
Their office was very excite about the program and
we plan to continue discussions in partnership for the summer. The next step for upcoming months is to build street tree guards made of re-purposed wood with students and community members in North Brooklyn. Participants will be encouraged to paint on the guards in order to represent their neighborhood through a more creative outlet, while protecting our community’s natural resources.
The Human Impacts Institute would like to give special thanks to The Green School, Nautica, NYC Parks Dept., Greenbelt Native Plant Center and MillionTreesNYC! Hii would like to take the time to thank the students and volunteers for their determination and positive attitudes at the tree stewardship event. Hii looks forward to more upcoming street tree stewardship events in the summer in which create sustainability and community development can continue to be explored.
Are you interested in supporting street tree care and community beautification in North Brooklyn? Contact us at Info@HumanImpactsInstitute.org or support Hii today!
By Melissa Mitchell, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Education Intern