Collaboratively connecting a community to their natural resources
On a sunny Saturday last month, residents of the Wilkes community got to celebrate nature in their neighborhood with an Earth Day Celebration at Wilkes City Park. Dozens of volunteers participated in a tree care event and an ivy pull, followed by food, fun, and a bird walk through two natural areas in the Wilkes neighborhood.
This celebration was part of Greening Wilkes, a project incorporating a layered approach to community engagement. Friends of Trees, Portland Audubon, Verde, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, and Portland Parks & Recreation have joined their complementary forces to enhance and diversify green spaces throughout the neighborhood around Wilkes City Park and Wilkes Creek Headwaters in outer East Portland.
This planting season, Friends of Trees put on two planting events and two tree care events in Wilkes neighborhoods and natural areas. In addition to planting yard trees, we continued the robust restoration work at the Wilkes Creek Headwaters Natural Area with Portland Parks & Recreation. The natural area is special because it is home to the spring that serves as the headwaters of Wilkes Creek.
“I’ve had community members tell me that they didn’t even realize that this natural spring was here. It’s really special to share it with them.”
-Harrison Layer, Friends of Trees Green Space Specialist
One day this spring, Harrison found himself waist deep in water in the wetlands on the campus of the Chemawa Indian School, a Native American boarding school in Salem. Harrison, a Green Space Specialist with Friends of Trees, was there with six Chemawa students who enrolled in a class on outdoor education and habitat enhancement. Getting outside is always a highlight for the students.
“When I got to plant with the students, I could see that they were genuinely excited to plant,” says Meng, another Green Space Specialist who works at Chemawa. “They got to plan where the plants could go, and have ownership over the process.”
Friends of Trees has been partnering with the Chemawa Indian School for over seven years on a program designed to provide opportunities for students to build knowledge and skills that could lead to careers in the environmental field. Friends of Trees provides this programming alongside Elderberry Wisdom Farm, an organization that creates opportunities for Indigenous youth to strengthen their traditional ties with the land and to build career pathways. Learn more here.
The Eugene Branch
Planting Trees at Charlemagne Elementary School
When you think of an elementary school campus, you probably think of sports fields and playgrounds. And you probably imagine trees—trees for kids to sit in the shade, or hide behind during a game of hide-and-seek, or to collect leaves from for their science classes. But a recent survey in Eugene found that the industrial areas of the city may actually have more canopy than the schools.
To help add trees at our communities’ schools, Friends of Trees did a planting at Charlemagne Elementary School in Southeast Eugene this year. The Eugene team was able to plant 32 street trees in the school’s right-of-way along Potter Street on the east side of the school’s campus. This right-of-way sees a lot of foot traffic from students, and studies show that cars drive more slowly on streets with more trees.
“We’d been hearing that students wanted trees at their school,” says Volunteer & Program Specialist Taylor Glass. “This has been one of our largest planting efforts at a school. We hope to be able to do more, both on the school grounds here and at other schools that could use more trees.” Learn more here.
Restoring the Balance
Today, we’re asking you to put yourself in a tree’s shoes—or roots. Planting day is so exciting for volunteers. We get to hang out with our neighbors, get our hands dirty, and feel good about getting trees in the ground. But planting day is the most stressful day of a tree’s life.
Trees are all about balance. Balance between canopy, where the tree can feed on sunlight and perform photosynthesis, and roots, which pull nutrients from the soil and provide the tree its needed strength and stability. For a newly planted tree, this time of year is all about restoring that balance and getting the roots and the shoots established.
We can see the canopy, but trees are like icebergs—there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than we realize. Being able to understand what’s going on underground for our trees helps us better care for them, especially when it comes to watering. Learn more about what you can do to help restore the balance.
These Trees Plant Trees
Starting Memorial Day weekend, our friends at Chalice Farms are raising funds for trees + community through the sale of two .5 gram “Tree-Roll” packs at Chalice locations throughout the state of Oregon. $2 per “Tree-Roll” will be donated to yours truly!
Interested in Private Employee Events?
Does your workplace engage in employee volunteer activities as a group? Yes? Consider joining Friends of Trees to plant or care for trees and natural areas near you! Contact Sam Erman, our Corporate & Business Relations Senior Specialist, at [email protected], or click here to learn more.
Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the world around them through a simple solution:Planting Trees. Together.