In its 2017 pilot year, Urban Forestry provided free yard trees to the communities of North and East Portland and Portland at large. In a true “keeping up with the Joneses” fashion, we researched several programs around the country and decided this method of getting trees to neighborhoods in need would work quite well for our tree planting program. We set the bar high by offering over 150 trees at three separate events. We offered 15 different tree species. When all was said and done, we gave away 467 trees! Of these trees, 58% were placed in low income and low canopy neighborhoods, and 63% landed in low income neighborhoods.
By providing trees to those that may otherwise not be able to afford them, yard tree giveaway programs are just one way that urban forestry programs across the country are helping to increase canopy goals and build community relationships at the same time. In Portland, our neighborhoods east of 82nd and areas of North Portland have historically been underserved and suffer low canopy rates as compared to those neighborhoods on the west side of the city.
The yard tree giveaway events were held in the Cully, Centennial and Hazelwood neighborhoods in late October through early November. However, Urban Forestry didn’t do this alone: the Cully Tree Team, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council and volunteers from across the city opted in to help us with our first year’s events. We couldn’t have done it without them! For each event, we had no idea what to expect. Would people show up for their trees? Would we run out of trees? Did we choose the right types of trees? In a nutshell, yes, yes and yes! While we had slow times during each of the event days, and some folks did change their minds about wanting a tree, we found homes for every one of the trees. We were also able to accommodate a variety of needs. Planting assistance was offered to those with physical limitations and delivery was available for those that wanted a tree but couldn’t get it home.
While the first effort is complete (getting the trees out there) our next phase of the program is to find out if the trees survived. Starting in late August or early September, we will visit each planting address to find out if the trees survived our dry summers. We prepared new tree owners with planting demonstrations for container trees and ample take home materials on caring for their young trees.
We learned a lot from our first year that we will apply to events going forward. Building community and increasing our urban forest capacity and all its benefits are essential to the health of Portland. If you are interested in volunteering with us for the 2018 events, let us know! And if you’re interested in obtaining a tree for your yard we will send you a reminder once our dates and places are set.
Cheers Portland! Thanks for making it a successful first year!
Questions? (503) 823-4025 or firstname.lastname@example.org