Building a core of volunteers in Lane County

Over the years the Eugene Tree Team has worked to build a core of neighborhood volunteers, folks in different neighborhoods who help secure staging sites for planting events, who can help get food donations, who help neighbors select trees, and most importantly, reach out to residents to find locations where neighbors want trees (yep, just like the Neighborhood Coordinators of the Portland office!). We have some incredible volunteers who have been key to community tree planting in Eugene, and we’re working on identifying active volunteers in Springfield, too, and in as many of the neighborhoods we work in as possible.

Why does this matter? Neighbors talking to neighbors is one of the best ways to spread the good word about trees, and leads to getting more trees planted. It’s also incredibly helpful to have an ongoing local group who can help with the same event every year.

So here’s what we’re trying: We’re working with neighborhood groups, both the more formal neighborhood associations along with more informal groups of neighbors. We’re connecting groups and residents in different neighborhoods and helping volunteers focus on their specific interests and letting those interests lead the way, and we’ll work to find the intersection between those interests and FOTE’s planting event needs. We also know that some volunteers have resources other than time available to them, and we’ll incorporate that, too.

Eugene Director Erik shares a great example of the intersection of interest + resources + need,

“Jon is really into getting trees into Springfield neighborhoods that need them. He is an owner of a local building and design company, where he is lead for landscape work. Jon not only volunteers to plant trees, he helps water trees near his family’s home with his wife and their two kids (hauling water in a little red wagon :), and his business also helps with post-planting tree care through watering about 35 trees in Springfield and 70 more in west Eugene every summer for tree recipients who need that assistance.”

Springfield volunteer Jon with one of his watering helpers

Here’s Jon on why he volunteers – and, specifically, why he volunteers to water trees,

“Nothing in my life lifts the anxiety, stress and guilt of our current climate crises like watering a young tree. It may be a small tree and it does take time and energy, but if we all participate in this act during our summer months, the anxiety, stress and guilt just might transform into something wonderful. Like pride, safety, and happiness.”

Be like John! Contact the Eugene Tree Team and let us know about your skills + interests (+ resources if you have access to any!) and we’ll work on connecting you with a volunteer role that helps plant trees + grow community in the Eugene-Springfield area. We need Saturday tree planting volunteers too! Check out our event calendar and come join us this season!

Trees with summer color, summer interest, and more!

The Eugene Branch

Trees with summer color, summer interest, and more!

When we think about trees + color most of us typically think of spring flowers or fall color. And while there is an incredible variety of trees with beautiful flowers and stunning fall foliage, here in the Eugene area we’ve been planting some great trees that deliver on summer color, summer interest, and more!

All of trees here, except for the Gambel oak, are drought tolerant species that do well in poorly drained or compacted soil. Added bonus: All of the trees in this list (again, except for that Gambel oak, good thing it has so many other wonderful qualities 🙂 ) are insect pollinated, making them especially beneficial to our threatened native pollinators!

Here are a few of our favorites:

Chitalpa tashkentensis ‘Pink Dawn | ‘Pink Dawn’ chitalpa

This drought tolerant tree is a hybrid of southern catalpa and desert willow. It blooms for several months during the summer showcasing trumpet shaped white and pink flowers. Also a pollinator favorite!

Golden rain tree

Koelreuteria paniculata | Goldenrain Tree

Native to Asia, this clay tolerant species is easy to recognize in summer when it shows off its lantern shaped seed pods.

Crape myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica | Crape myrtle

This hardy species is currently in full bloom and hosts a large number of pollinators on their large clusters of bright colored flowers. Once they’ve finished blooming, clusters of brown seed pods will form and release winged seeds.

Amur maackia

Maackia amurensis | Amur maackia

Amur maackia clusters of greenish-yellow flowers are a favorite for pollinators and have just finished their bloom. Their seed pods are beginning to turn brown before falling off of the tree.

Pagoda tree

Styphnolobium japonicum | Pagoda tree

Once established, these trees can fare well in heat and drought. During the late summer months, white blooms in large clusters are a haven for bees with their sweet smelling flowers.

Gambel oak

Quercus gambellii | Gambel oak

From the southwestern US, these oaks provide a lot of shade for a small sized tree. In the late summer you will find their bright green, egg-shaped acorns forming.

Aster subspicatus | Douglas aster

For fun, a flower! A favorite native in our greenspace program, Douglas aster is in full, striking purple bloom! Growing in a variety of habitats, this native perennial is a great addition to any yard, garden, or planting pod.

 photo at top: Oregon myrtle

Community engagement is key to greening Eugene’s low canopy neighborhoods


The Eugene Tree Team is implementing a new community-driven process to add trees in the low-canopy neighborhoods of Bethel, Trainsong, and River Road in west Eugene: residents of these neighborhoods will directly reach out to their neighbors about the benefits of trees and how to plant one through Friends of Trees.

This new approach involves a variety of outreach methods to spread the word about getting trees. In addition to sharing information via local email lists and the neighborhood newsletter and Facebook page, neighborhood residents are going door to door. The goal is getting as many trees as possible in a 4 to 10 square block area of the neighborhood. Not only can this concentrated approach measurably grow the canopy, it will reduce the use of cars and trucks since walking and biking planting routes will be so easy to implement.

To prepare for planting day, City of Eugene representatives will accompany the neighborhood canvassers, marking the spots for street trees upon confirmation of a tree. And to help promote yard trees, Eugene Director Erik Burke will be available for yard tree consultation: when a resident expresses interest in a yard tree the canvasser will call Erik who will bike over for the consultation. An added bonus to this programming is that each planting event in these neighborhoods will also include tree walks.

Erik talks about the evolution of this strategy,

“This concentrated, neighborhood-based approach is part of our efforts toward greater environmental and climate justice in our programming. Not only is community involvement essential to achieving climate justice, adding trees to these neighborhoods is so important because the majority of industrial sites are in west Eugene, a low-canopy, low-income, diverse part of the city.”

Active Bethel Citizens play a key role in making this project happen, as do the City of Eugene, which is helping to fund the street trees, and EWEB, which is helping fund yard trees. Bethel businesses are encouraged to donate toward this project–and so are you! There is a $10,000 funding gap in this project, to help cover the costs of scholarship trees and tree watering services for tree recipients who need that help, contact the Eugene Tree Team to get involved or make your donation here. Thank you!

photo: Friends of Trees west Eugene planting event.

Planting trees on the Kesey Family Farm

The Eugene Branch: news from Friends of Trees Eugene

Planting trees on private property is a regular part of the program at Friends of Trees Eugene. Almost every planting event includes yard trees, with about 20% of all FOT Eugene trees planted on private property, and increasing every year.

We recently had the pleasure of being a part of a private property planting event at the Kesey Farm just outside of Eugene (yes, that Kesey: Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and more!). The Keseys contacted us because in addition tree advice and help with planting, they wanted to involve Friends of Trees because they really like the community involvement part of how we plant trees.

The Eugene Tree Team worked with the Keseys on where to plant the trees and on species selection. The family really wanted some redwoods, so we planted those along with some more drought tolerant giant sequoias. All told, community volunteers and the Keseys planted 30 trees, including giant sequoias, redwoods, Lavelle hawthorns, and silver lindens. (DYK? silver lindens are perhaps the best trees for native bumble bees!)

This was an all-around great planting event: It was a beautiful sunny day at a beautiful site, everyone was happy to be there, and the Keseys not only helped plant but were great hosts, sharing treats with the volunteers. We even met some cows and learned what a “bummer calf” is (a days-old calf that can’t feed from its mom).

Private property planting events in Eugene are fully funded by the property owners, as in this case, and sometimes with private donations if cost is an issue. Do you have some private property that needs trees? In some cases FOTE can play a role, advising on tree selection, site planning, and through involving community volunteers for a tree planting event. We’d love to talk with you about your tree needs!

Fruit tree recipients in Eugene experience almond joy, and more


FOTE’s yard tree program is growing rapidly, from 35 yard trees planted in the 2019-20 season, to 85 trees in the 2020-21 season—and fruit trees are a big part of Eugene’s yard tree program. We’ve seen a more than 100% increase in fruit trees planted this season over last—40 fruit trees this season vs just about 18 last season. And with some new outreach strategies we’re implementing to reach even more tree recipients, we expect the fruit tree popularity streak to continue.

Almond trees are the top fruit tree choice in the Eugene area (the Hall’s hardy almond tree, to be specific, which is a cross between an almond and a peach tree – !). Hall’s hardy is the only almond variety suitable for growing in the Pacific Northwest because it blooms late, resists fungal disease and self pollinates. Folks love the pretty pink flowers and that they’re fast growing—so fast, in fact that almond trees will produce almonds by the second or third season!

“I love how in just the second year my almond tree flowered profusely and grew so much; I can’t wait to try almonds this fall!”

Laurel, fruit tree recipient

We also offer apple, cherry, peach, pear, Asian pear, and plum trees, and we’re actively looking for a good local source for fig, pawpaw, and persimmon. An important feature of all fruit tree varieties offered by FOTE is that they are pest and disease resistant and don’t require spraying.

When we plant fruit trees in the Eugene area we only plant them as yard trees, and we plant as many bare root trees as possible; they are easy to plant, the roots are good, and they’re a good price for a 5-6 foot tree. We also focus on semi-dwarf varieties that max out at about 20 feet high, these are much easier for the home orchardist to care for than full sized trees (we would love to offer dwarf trees but don’t have a good source yet). Fruit tree recipients are encouraged to have a maintenance plan, because, for instance, most fruit trees need annual pruning.

Why do we expect fruit trees to increase in popularity? We think our new block-by-block outreach approach to let people know about our street and yard trees will simply just introduce fruit trees as an option many folks may not have considered.

Our block by block plan is a new approach to address equity issues within our street and yard tree program. We’re using some mapping software to prioritize neighborhoods that are more diverse, lower canopy, and lower income. Preparation Field Days involve volunteers from the relevant neighborhood association going door to door offering trees. The volunteers will be accompanied either by an FOTE staffer or someone from the City of Eugene, who will mark street tree locations and will also be available for yard tree consultations. So far when we’ve tested this method fruit trees have been very popular; they’ve been offered along with native trees and shade trees.

Would you like a fruit tree of your own? Create a free, no obligation account to get started!

Photo: Eugene Tree Team member Becca and Vera, with their Hall’s hardy almond tree, planted last November