Learn how trees help make us healthy

Do you know how increased exposure to nature creates countless health benefits?

Join us for a free Trees & Health event–in Portland, Salem and Eugene

Trees benefit people, creatures and the planet in ways too numerous to list here. We know that trees combat climate change, clean our air and water, create habitat, grow food … Trees do so much that it’s no surprise that trees improve our health, too—but it’s only relatively recently that we’ve learned just how much trees contribute to human health. Friends of Trees is now using that knowledge to implement programming specific to trees and health.

Thanks to a 2016 funding award from Metro, Friends of Trees has expanded our community tree-plantings to include Portland’s Northwest Industrial District, focusing on projects to directly impact human health. Our goal is adding green infrastructure to this area that has an abundance of concrete and a dearth of green. These plantings will also forge a stronger connection between the Industrial District and Forest Park, which is so close yet so disconnected from this part of town; adding trees in the industrial section contributes to a green corridor, channeling the benefits of the park to the industrial district.

How do trees make us healthy? Patients in hospitals heal more quickly if they have a view of trees and nature; people are more likely to get out and walk and run through tree-lined communities; babies in tree-lined neighborhoods are more likely to have a healthy birth weight; exposure to greenspaces can reduce blood pressure and stress levels; views of natural settings have been found to reduce crime and aggression … to list just a few.

Yes, the trees we plant here will improve our health, but so will the way we plant those trees. Our community tree-planting program is implemented with thousands of volunteers, many of whom have never volunteered before. And guess what? Volunteering is good for your health, too! Volunteering makes us happy, contributes to more satisfied employees, decreases the risk of depression, reduces stress levels, and more!

And to help these trees grow and thrive, Friends of Trees will water, mulch and prune these new trees for their first two years in the ground. This is slow and steady work, and we are excited to continue growing this program over time.

There’s another component to this project: Scientists. Presentations by experts are a part of our Trees and Health work. It’s an exciting time, with new research coming out regularly, and we look forward to sharing this important information with our community.

Learn more about trees and health.

JOIN US FOR A FREE TREES & HEALTH EVENT

Guest lecturer Dr. Kathy Wolf of the University of Washington explores how nearby nature improves environmental, social, and economic conditions in cities

  • Portland, March 1, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Salem, March 2, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Eugene, March 3, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Location and registration information.

This is an excerpt from our February Treemail, read the entire issue here.

Caring for your new fruit tree                 

We hope you can join us April 18 for our annual Fruit Tree Giveaway! A $5 donation is suggested, and even if you doubled that, you’re still escaping with a great deal on a tree.

Structural pruning of your young fruit tree helps it hold literally hundreds of pounds of fruit once it matures. Photo: FoT File
Structural pruning of your young fruit tree will help it hold literally hundreds of pounds of fruit once it matures. Photo: FoT File

Inexpensive is a great price point, but unlike shade trees, fruit trees require extra care and investment in the first three years.

“A young shade tree only needs to be structurally sound enough to support leaves. A fruit tree will support hundreds of pounds of fruit,” says Andrew Land, one of FoT’s staff arborists. It’s important to properly prune your new tree during the first three years of its life.”

You can call on one of our partner arborists to take care of the pruning or for the DIY inclined, visit our kindred souls at the Portland Fruit Tree Project —they’re awesome, informed, and helpful.

While pruning requires knowledge and care, there are three very important things you can do for your tree right off the bat:

LovedAppleTree
Plant your fruit tree in a spot with lots of space to grow, and lots of sunlight each day (southeast exposure is great). Photo: FoT file

1. Location, Location, Location…
If possible, choose a location on the southeast side of your property. Allow enough space for the tree to grow and plant your new tree in an area that will get plenty of sunlight. This will help both the overall health of the tree and aid in ripening fruit.

2. Thirsty, so very thirsty…
Your new tree needs 10-15 gallons of water per week. That downpour—no matter how soaked your clothes were—still doesn’t satisfy your tree’s water requirements. Fill a five gallon bucket up 2-3 times a week and give your fruit tree’s roots a deep drink.

3. #mulchmadness…
What kind of mulch? Short answer, brown: wood chips, bark dust, compost—any sort organic matter that’ll direct food and nutrients down to the roots and help retain water. Just follow the rules of 3 for mulching:
3 foot diameter of mulch
3 inches deep
3 inches from base of the trunk.

At last year’s Fruit Tree Giveaway we sold out of trees, and even with more trees on hand this year, we’d still encourage people to come out early: We’re beginning at 10 a.m. on April 18 and go through 1 p.m.

The event is held at Friends of Trees’s north parking lot at 3117 NE Martin Luther King Blvd in Portland. If you can’t make this event, you can help keep the Northwest’s tree canopy healthy by donating or volunteering.

Timber’s Army gets it done

Photo: cc/Audrey Eschright
Photo: Audrey Eschright

We are Timbers Army
We are mental and we’re barmy
True supporters forever more!
—Timbers Army Chant

If you’ve ever been to a Portland Timbers game, you know that the 4,000 plus-strong Timber’s Army is the loudest and most loyal band of supporters a team has ever known.

The same is true when they come volunteer for OUR team—planting trees. And come out they do, every year, since 2012.

Timber's Army plants trees
Plant Trees, Build Teamwork
We love it when groups come to volunteer! If your group or business is interested, you can fill out this form.

On February 21, about 30 from the Army—along with Mascot Timber Joey—will join North Portland neighbors to plant trees in University Park, Cathedral Park, and St. Johns.

It’s fitting for the Army to have a presence in this area. This spring, a new ULS Pro team, Timbers 2 (or T2), will debut on its home pitch: Merlo Field at the University of Portland.

“We’re going to start taking over some of the establishments around there,” says Stephan Lewis, a member of the Timbers Army community outreach committee and an experienced Friends of Trees Crew Leader himself. “From afar we can be intimidating, but the closer you get, it’s all about spreading the love.

“Our whole organization is volunteer oriented,” he says of the Timbers Army.

Timber Joey Planting Trees
Mascot Timber Joey will join the Timbers Army and other volunteers planting trees February 21 in North Portland. Come join us! Photo: FoT File

In addition to volunteering for organizations like the Oregon Food Bank and Friends of Trees, the Timbers Army’s affiliated nonprofit Operation Pitch Invasion builds and refurbishes soccer fields for youth in low-income areas. On top of that, a scholarship fund for talented young players has sent kids like Rubio Ruben—the best footballer to ever come out of Portland, Lewis says—to training camps and tryouts. (Ruben now plays professionally in Europe.)

Being out in the community helps them uncover needs—and young talent.

“Friends of Trees is one of those avenues that helps us keep our ties to the community. These kids see us with their scarves, and they come out with their soccer balls. It’s a beautiful, beautiful moment,” Lewis says.

Lewis would recommend any group or businesses to volunteer together with Friends of Trees.

“For me, it’s always been a really great experience. There’s a visible improvement in the environment that you’re actually doing. It gives you great satisfaction for doing something for just a few hours on a Saturday,” he says.

If your group or business would like to sign up and volunteer together, you can fill out this form.

Your group will join the ranks of these recent groups, below, who’ve volunteered with Friends of Trees. You all rock!

 

Volunteer groups that have planted trees together this season:
Epson Portland, Oregon Adventure Scouts, PDX Do Gooders, Oregon Food Bank, Clackamas High School Green Team, La Salle Prep Biology students, Girl Scout Troop 40020, PRiNK Technologies, WVU Alumni, Cleandango, College Possible, Port of Portland, Vibrant Generation youth group, AP Environmental Science, Reynolds High School, PCC BMZA club, Windells Academy, Oregon Zoo – ECO Team, PSU Environmental Sustainability SINQ, Tanasbourne YSA, Safe Place for Youth, Sherwood High School, Key Club, Cub Scout Pack 838, HandsOn Greater Portland, South Salem High School, West Salem Rotary Interact Club, Impact Northwest, Urban Opportunities, Whole Foods, Ohio University PDX Alumni, 636th Mt Tabor Scouts, Warner Pacific College, Cleveland High School, NHS, SEEDS, Reed College, Clark College Environmental Club, Boy Scout Troop 799, Tigard High School, NHS, Southridge High School, National Honor Society, Pacific University Rotaract Club, Forword, Insignia Health Group, Barlow High School, NHS, Oregon City High School, NHS. Salesforce, ORANA, University of Denver Alumni, Service Portland, Hopworks Urban Brewery, OSU 4-H, Columbia River HS National Honor Society, Kaiser Permanente, CSL Plasma-Hillsboro, Sellwood Consulting, Target Store employees – Wilsonville, KinderCare Learning Center, Pacific University Rotaract, Bamboo Sushi, CLEAResult, Grant High School students, Explorer Post 58, Anne Downing’s David Douglas ESL students, Centennial High School, National Honor’s Society, Cub Scout Pack 199, Girl Scout Troop, 40321, Cub Scout Den 353, EYM (Educating Young Minds) Search Division, AKPsi University of Portland, U of P, Blue Key Honor Society, Benson National Honors Society, Portland BBG #313

Thank you!

From tiny seed to street giant

When our volunteers deliver a tree to your curb by pickup truck or bike trailer, the tree just sort of appears—poof!—like magic. (Our volunteers are pretty magical.) But the story of that young tree goes back 3-7 YEARS when it was a tiny seed in a greenhouse.

Where does Friends of Trees get its trees? From 10-15 nurseries located within about an hour of Portland. We only use local nurseries and don’t accept donated trees, ensuring highest quality.

“A good number of these nurseries have had relationships with Friends of Trees for years,” says Whitney Dorer, our Neighborhood Trees Manager.

One of those nurseries is Rigert Shade Trees  in Aloha. Owner Vince Rigert says our relationship started with a phone call more than a decade ago, and now Friends of Trees is his largest nursery customer.

“Now we’ve both gotten a little bigger, and I’m really happy that we’re able to do business,” Rigert says.

Gingko seedling
Depending on the species, it can take years for a tree to grow 1 or 2 feet tall. Photo: Creative Commons

From a tiny seed in a greenhouse, a tree spends its first year or two growing to be a foot or so tall. That’s when Rigert Shade Trees plants it in a pot or in the ground.

Rigert Shade Trees
Nurseries try to grow trees with strong, upright branch structure. Photo: Rigert Shade Trees

For the next several years, growing a strong branch structure is really important. “You have to keep an eye on it all growing season long,” says Rigert. Ideally a tree grows with a strong main trunk and no competing leaders, which create a “Y” shape and a weaker structure. The nursery keeps weeds away from the tree and fertilizes its roots so it grows strong.

Volunteers load trees into a big moving truck to take to the neighborhood staging area. Photo: FoT File
Volunteers load trees into a big moving truck to take them from the nursery to your neighborhood. Photo: FoT File

Finally, it’s time for the tree to make its trip to the city. All along, the nursery has been managing the roots and “root pruning” where necessary. This ensures that when the tree is dug up, the important roots come with it. “This gives the best survivability, because the roots give all the water and nutrients to the tree,” Rigert says.

Trees are delivered to the neighborhood staging area and ready to plant! Photo: FoT File
Trees are delivered to the neighborhood staging area and ready to plant! Photo: FoT File

The Friday before a neighborhood planting, staff and volunteers pick up the trees from nurseries in a big Penske truck. Sometimes they get delivered to the neighborhood staging site.

Friends of Trees Beaverton planting
Neighbors plant the tree together! Photo: FoT File

When the tree gets planted along your street, it’s about 3-7 years old with a trunk that is at least 1.5 inches in caliper (diameter). This is mature enough to survive the tough early years as a street tree while still young enough that transplanting doesn’t shock the roots. Plus, the root ball is not too heavy for volunteers to lift.

From there, the tree’s story continues for decades, as the it grows tall in your neighborhood!