First-time tree planter and tree champion share their experience

By Canopy Team on November 22, 2016

From the field: Two volunteers share their thoughts on the “Sister Neighborhood” tree plantings

Fostering friendship across city boundaries

Canopy is proud to serve the Mid-Peninsula’s diverse communities, and actively seeks ways to bring together people of all backgrounds to work towards a common goal: green, healthy neighborhoods.

In this spirit, last month we hosted two “Sister Neighborhood” tree plantings on back-to-back Saturdays: one in East Palo Alto’s University Village on October 22nd, and one in Midtown Palo Alto on October 29th.

Volunteers and groups from both communities dug in for the twin events, fostering friendship and connection across city boundaries. Over two weekends, nearly 200 volunteers came out and planted 90 new neighborhood trees.

We asked two volunteers–one Palo Alto resident and on east Palo Alto resident–to share their planting day experiences.

Hsun-Tzu Chen

hsun-tzu-chen-croppedMidtown Palo Alto Resident

Hsun-Tzu Chen was a first-time Canopy volunteer, and a first-time tree planter! Here are her thoughts from the day:

How did it feel to plant a tree for the first time? Was it what you expected?

I felt great and accomplished to have planted a tree! It wasn’t as difficult as I expected because there were so many volunteers, so we took turns digging and we divided up the responsibilities. The other volunteers and I received a lot of guidance from the group leaders so we felt confident in what we were doing.

Did you learn anything new from your two tree planting experiences?

Being a first-time volunteer, everything that I learned about tree planting was new to me. I learned about the size and depth of the hole that needed to be dug, how to remove the tree from the pot, and how to prepare the soil for planting. Most importantly, I learned how to plant the tree properly so that it had the best chance of survival in its new location.

I also enjoyed asking questions regarding the different types of trees in the neighborhood and seeking advice about mulch and gardening in general. I really appreciated that some of the volunteers that I had the pleasure of working with were also very knowledgeable.  

What was your favorite part of the planting day experience?

My favorite part of the planting day experience was seeing the Bay Area community (I met volunteers that came all the way from Campbell and Fremont) come together for a common goal: planting trees to enrich two neighborhoods for many years to come.

I especially liked seeing volunteers of all ages. I hope the experience will have a lasting effect on the young volunteers, and help them see the importance of respecting and taking care of trees in our neighborhoods, parks, and the wild.

midtown yard tree

Were there any moments from the planting that stood out?

In East Palo Alto, a family with a toddler happened to walk by as we were planting. As a group, we explained what we were doing and told them about Canopy. We got the toddler involved by showing him the worms we relocated and having him pour some water to keep the soil moist. The group leader also answered questions from the parents regarding tree planting.  

Will Schulz

will-schulzUniversity Village Neighborhood Tree Champion

Will Schulz did an amazing job rallying his neighbors for the University Village planting! He went door-to-door with Canopy staff and coordinated a neighborhood barbecue to celebrate after the tree planting.

Why did you want to become a tree champion for your neighborhood?

I am passionate about improving the quality of life and beautification for my neighborhood and EPA residents. My neighborhood in particular had an abundance of open areas for trees in the curbside mediums and many front yards that didn’t have any trees. This was a great opportunity to beautify the community.

Were there any moments that stood out, either from planning activities or from the day of the planting?

Prior to the event, on several occasions neighbors invited me inside for food and drinks. It gave me an opportunity to connect with neighbors that I likely wouldn’t have had without this initiative.

On the day of the event, right before everyone went to work, seeing how many people came out to volunteer was really amazing and heartwarming.

university village planting

After the planting, a highlight was getting to run around the community and talk to neighbors that were so thrilled with the planting, and enthusiastic for a follow up planting.

Next Steps: More trees, more friends

university village planting

Canopy is excited to foster more “sister neighborhood” collaborations as we work to increase tree canopy cover in both south Palo Alto and East Palo Alto neighborhoods. Both University Village and Midtown have room for many more trees. Follow-up tree plantings are in the works for these neighborhoods, and we’re on the lookout for more tree.



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