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Tree Canada programs are taking root on P.E.I.
From edible trees and establishing outdoor classrooms to planting trees and shrubs at Island schools, urban areas are benefiting from an infusion of green.
“The edible tree program is critical to enhancing people’s understanding of the value of forests and forest communities,” said Bruce Smith of Morell, Tree Canada’s community advisor for P.E.I.
Through this program, Tree Canada has planted 50 fruit trees recently in Stratford, said Smith.
“This was to augment the fruit trees planted several years ago behind the Cotton administrative buildings along the Bunbury Road, which included apples, pears, cherries, raspberries and blackberries,” he said.
“It is hoped that by planting these fruit bearing trees people will have a greater respect and understanding of the benefits of forests which have been planted in Stratford.”
Tree Canada's objective is to plant trees in urban settings (over 500 projects along these lines have taken place in recent years), where they benefit the community, as well as projects planting hundreds of thousands of trees to capture carbon.
Each year, Tree Canada funds projects on P.E.I., including the planting of trees in municipal parks and school yards.
Recently, trees and shrubs have been planted at West Royalty Elementary School, and 50 large trees have been planted on the Upton Farm Trust property in Charlottetown.
“While all forests produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, slow water runoff, provide shade, which will reduce temperatures in the summer and reduce wind in the winter, thereby reducing heating costs, some trees shrubs and plants produce fruit or other products which can be consumed by people,” said Smith.
“Often this is large fruit such as apples, pears, plums and cherries but can also include raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.”
What: Tree Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments.
Vision: To improve the lives of Canadians by planting and nurturing trees while teaching about the value of trees.
Mission: To bolster Canada’s urban forests and inspire people to participate in, and advocate for, community greening.
Some Tree Canada projects on P.E.I.: Andrew Mills Pond; Wright’s Creek; Parkman Park; Uptown Farm; North River area; Prince Street; West Royalty and L.M. Montgomery schools in Charlottetown; Stratford; Rustico; Ecole Evangeline (Wellington); Boardwalk Trail; Rotary Park in Summerside.
A recent project at L.M. Montgomery Elementary School in Charlottetown saw the establishment of an outdoor classroom with a variety of plants, as well as the planting of an additional 100 trees on the property to enhance the natural environment around the school.
Nancy MacKinnon, a Grade 5 teach at L.M. Montgomery school, said she learned about Tree Canada a few years ago while online and was interested in having the school participate in enhancing its school yard.
“I approached our administration with the idea, and they were very much in favour of applying for the grant,” said MacKinnon. “The idea of having an outdoor classroom and adding trees and shrubs seemed like a great opportunity for our school.”
“Our Grade 5 classes always planted trees, once a year, under the Home Hardware Program and with our local watershed group, so I approached Bruce Smith and asked for his assistance. He was very happy to guide us in the right direction.”
MacKinnon said the whole school was excited about the project but, due to COVID-19 restrictions, only students from a Grade 4 class and a Grade 5 class were involved in the planting, assisted by the staff from Macphail Woods and Tree Canada.
“The outdoor classroom will be a space that utilizes natural elements to create a gathering place – outdoors – for small groups of students and classes to continue their education. It is still a work in progress with more tree stumps for seating and a natural looking mural to be completed.”
She said the staff and students are grateful to Tree Canada for the long-lasting addition to “our wonderful playground at L.M. Montgomery school”.
“The new trees will provide shade and various play areas for all the students. They are all native to the Island, so we knew they would grow nicely in our area.”
Tree Canada received corporate support from Telus, Staples and The Brick for its projects on P.E.I.