My Turn: Leaving a legacy of tree-lined streets

  • Fallen leaves float down the Green River in Greenfield, lined with trees with vibrant autumnal foliage. RECORDER FILE/Matt Burkhartt


Friday, October 06, 2017

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way ... But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” — William Blake

When you drive through the streets of Greenfield, do you notice all the beautiful trees standing sentry on the sides of the roads and in people’s yards? Do you notice the newly planted trees, their trunks sometimes enveloped in green water bags, filling in some of the many spaces where there used to be trees? Do you notice those gaps where once lovely old trees adorned the highways and are now gone forever?

A neighbor of mine was telling me how she remembered the fall leaf peepers driving down High Street to see those colorful leaf displays. Not so many left now. When I drive down Federal Street, I can’t help seeing all the barren gaps where a tree might have stood, and really ought to stand once again. It would indeed be a wonderful legacy for our children and grandchildren to bring back those avenues of beautiful trees with the shade that they provide. That’s the vision of our Greenfield Tree Committee.

We’ve already begun the process of replanting some of our neighborhoods with the help of donations and, as we’ve found, the process works best with the enthusiastic support of homeowners.

Early one sunny morning in May, the community of neighbors on Haywood Street came out to help plant about 25 trees on the green belt or in the yards outside their homes. It was the culmination of hard work, persuasion and persistence that had gotten this project off the ground (or in the ground I should say), mainly by John Bottomley, one of our committee members and dedicated Haywood Street neighbor. Many of the neighbors made donations, which were more than matched by the Greenfield Tree committee. And so it was that on a sunny Saturday morning, the project finally came to fruition. It was exciting to see everyone coming out and learning about the best practices for planting trees and pitching in, digging holes, planting trees and sharing refreshments. By lunchtime, all the trees were planted and we could stand back and survey the newly revived street. What a sense of pride we all felt.

The Greenfield tree committee wants to be able to continue doing more neighborhood tree planting projects, and we would love to hear from any of you who wish to get involved in your neighborhood to plant more trees. Look at areas around you that are barren and in need of trees. Think of the difference the trees make to your well being and to property values, as well as providing cooling shade, and even slowing storm water run off. We have a goal of planting at least 500 trees in 10 years. We are only limited by our energy and determination, the ability to raise enough money, and the willingness of the community to want the trees, and to see the necessity of replacing those already dying and aged trees.

In 2014, one of our members, Mary Chicoine, obtained a grant to work on a Greenfield Tree Inventory, mapping out what trees we have, where they were and their condition. That inventory found that Greenfield could lose about half of the mature street trees inventoried in the next decade based in part on the age and condition of the trees.

Last year, with a state Urban and Community Forestry Environmental Justice Challenge grant, our committee was able to plant more than 30 trees on Hope and Washington streets and Oak Courts. And our main accomplishment this year has been our en masse planting on Haywood Street. Would you like your street to be the next?

Our Greenfield Tree Committee is always delighted when new members step forward to add their enthusiasm and ideas to our committee; and of course, in order to fulfill our goals of planting trees and replacing the dead and dying ones, we need funds from multifarious sources. In March, we are planning a Soup and Games night at Hope and Olive to raise funds toward our tree planting goals. We also encourage your tax deductible donations, which can be given online at: www.greenfieldtreecommittee.org or via a check to the Connecticut River Conservancy with “Greenfield Tree Committee” in the memo line.

It is the hope of the Greenfield Tree Committee that we will be leaving a legacy of beautiful tree-lined streets for our children and grandchildren and beyond; and that those that follow us will be grateful for the foresight of the Greenfield community in taking ownership and doing our part toward keeping Greenfield green and attractive.

You can learn more about the Greenfield Tree Committee and our work in the community at: www.greenfieldtreecommittee.org.

Annette Kilminster has been a member of the Greenfield Tree Committee for several years and is a resident of Greenfield.