Since 2011, volunteers in the Frogtown neighborhood have been planting free trees in residents’ homes. Inspired by those efforts, and alarmed by recent declines in urban tree canopy, residents in adjacent neighborhoods have followed suit.
This past fall marks the second season of free tree planting by residents of Hamline-Midway. In October, volunteers with the Hamline Midway Coalition’s environmental committee (HMEC) planted a total of 47 trees: 44 in residential yards and three at Hamline Elementary School.
Members of HMEC work to restore native pollinators, increase the neighborhood tree canopy and educate residents about environmental issues. The committee’s hands-on approach to tree loss is “empowering the community to work for its own improvement and not wait for others to do it,” according to Stephanie Hankerson, the co-chair of HMEC and a longtime nature educator. “We were inspired by Frogtown Green,” said Hankerson. We had been watching what they had accomplished over a decade, and our committee was interested in doing more action-focused work.”
As with Frogtown’s trees, Hamline-Midway’s giveaway trees were nurtured from spring to fall in a “gravel bed,” a simple wooden bin filled with gravel. The bed, which was also built by volunteers, was irrigated regularly. Relatively small, bare-root trees installed in such a bed and nurtured for a summer can grow thickly matted root balls, making these trees much more likely to survive transplant in fall. The trees were purchased with funds from the Minnesota Department of Resources, and the gravel bed was housed on the campus of the Friends’ School of Minnesota. Other sponsors included the BNSF Foundation, Hamline Church Earthkeepers, and Piecework Design.
Residents interested in a free tree signed on the Hamline Midway Coalition’s website. Noah Anderson, an AmeriCorps member assigned to HMEC, said that the volunteer planting was “a great success, due to the careful preparations going into planting.” Anderson, a Community Forestry Corps member, worked with HMEC’s team to gather supplies, contact home owners, do yard assessments and to create maps of tree locations to give to volunteer groups, come planting day.
In addition to overseeing the HMEC tree-planting efforts, Hankerson helps to coordinate another environmental project undertaken in collaboration with Frogtown Green. “The Bee Line” is what both groups have dubbed a two-year effort to increase native pollinator habitat along a 2.25 mile-long corridor stretch of Pierce Butler Route, from Newell Park to West Minnehaha Park. More pollinator-friendly, native trees and shrubs will be planted along the Bee Line route in 2023 by HMEC and Frogtown Green volunteers.
To find out more about Hamline Midway’s Environment Committee, the tree planting program or the Bee Line, visit hamlinemidway.org/environment-committee.
Mae Macfarlane is an AmerCorps member assigned to Frogtown Green (frogtowngreen.com).
Frogtown Green is a volunteer-powered initiative to build green and natural beauty in the Frogtown neighborhood. We plant trees, cultivate gardens and work toward a healthier environment. The St Paul Audubon Society supported the construction of tower for migrating chimney swifts at Frogtown Green’s Lily Pad. If you’d like to know more, our website is frogtowngreen.com and our phone is 651-757-5970.
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