Trees for Guelph has provided trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in a fall tree planting campaign at Wellington Catholic District School Board school sites.
Retired WCDSB teacher Anne Holman is a founder and still a champion of Trees for Guelph sitting on the not-for-profit’s board of directors. Prior to forming Trees for Guelph, Holman would take her class at St. James and coordinate tree plantings with Bishop Macdonell as well as Our Lady of Lourdes. The project gained so much traction that they started Trees for Guelph.
Operated still by a group of dedicated volunteers, the organization’s mandate is to seek out to improve the local environment and the understanding of this environment by undertaking educational tree planting. The organization has worked formally with WCDSB for the last three decades to bring nature into the learning environment.
“The overall idea is to re-think what school grounds look like, to create space for insects, birds, and animals, and allow nature to teach lessons to students,” said Peter Glaab, Healthy Active Living Resource Teacher at WCDSB.
With COVID protocols in place, it has been a welcomed event at our schools.
“When we were forced to rethink how our schools would operate around the pandemic, our Spring planting season was cancelled since students were learning remotely in 2020 and again in 2021. We decided to push for a Fall planting session last year as a response to the number of COVID-learned experiences everyone appreciated about the outdoors,” shared Glaab. “Additionally, we wanted to help students get outside and put sustainability practices into place regardless of a global pandemic. Our collective role to help nurture healthy sustainable spaces, to encourage the growth of healthy people and creatures, is a symbiotic relationship that demands our constant attention. As long as we leave footprints on this planet, this responsibility does not take a break.”
Moritz Sanio, Trees for Guelph Coordinator, echoed Glaab’s sentiment.
“Pandemic protocols have impacted everything, but we are still keen to continue planting and Wellington Catholic staff have been perfect allies to find ways including safety protocols that encourage this essential activity that has positive impacts on mental health, urban biodiversity, a healthy urban forest. Just attend a school planting and you will appreciate its effect on students and the landscape,” said Sanio.
Near 750 students and staff from the participating school sites will contribute to the planting. Among the schools involved in the plantings this year are St. Michael Catholic School, St. Peter Catholic School, Holy Trinity Catholic School, St. Patrick Catholic School Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School and Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School.
“Before COVID we would typically plant between 150-250 plants - trees, shrubs and wildflowers, but these days we are happy to get between 130-190 plants in the ground. Today at Bishop Mac we planted 75 wildflowers and 110 trees and shrubs. It was a great day and the little rain we received was hardly noticed,” shared Sanio. “It was so appreciated by everyone and I think it was one of the best plantings in recent memory.”
While the Fall campaign is wrapping up, organizers are hopeful to return to a Spring plant this upcoming season.
For more information on Trees for Guelph, please visit http://www.treesforguelph.ca/.