By Parkash Sehgal
PHS is offering everyone an incredibly effective and fun way to connect with and give a helping hand to Mother Nature. Join a PHS Tree Tenders group in Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania to plant and care for street trees in your own community to increase our tree canopy.
Mindy Maslin, PHS Tree Tenders Program Manager, and founder, got the idea for a citizen stewardship program while she was attending a tree conference in Chicago in 1991. “I fell in love with the idea, and immediately knew that this was what Philadelphia needed,” she says. “We needed a program that empowered citizens to take the lead in organizing their own neighborhoods. Twenty-six years later, it seems to have worked,” says Mindy. Every planting season, about 60 Tree Tenders groups throughout the region participate by planting and caring for hundreds of trees.
Since the creation of this program in 1993, PHS Tree Tenders have cared for more than 1,300 trees annually. Tree Tenders learn tree biology and identification, as well as proper planting and care. In the process, strong friendships are formed where residents work together, side by side, towards a common goal.
“We are always looking for new members,” says Mindy. There’s still time to register for PHS Tree Tenders Training sessions beginning this Wednesday, September 18 in both Philadelphia and Delaware County. Another Philadelphia session will take place at PHS headquarters (20th & Arch Street) beginning Saturday, January 25 at PHS if you need to let the idea take root.
To become a certified PHS Tree Tender, the requirements are simple. Start by registering for a nine-hour (total) three-session workshop. Upcoming workshops are listed on our Tree Programs pages [Link ‘Tree Programs’ to Tree Programs Overview page].
Certified Tree Tenders can join pre-existing Tree Tenders groups or form your own. View this map to find every active group in and around Philadelphia. All you need is three graduates from your neighborhood. Groups can canvass their neighborhood for homeowner street tree requests. PHS staff will work with Philadelphia residents to get permits, will purchase trees, and even cut the concrete if needed. Ongoing trainings are provided on organizing volunteers, tree plantings, and organizing tree care days.
Tree Tenders are committed to planting trees that will fit into their location, not only on planting day, but thirty years from now when they are mature. “This means, looking at the built environment (overhead wires, sidewalk size, and street width) so that the trees will thrive. Planting for diversity is also important for our overall canopy. When the next emerald ash borer or spotted lanternfly comes through, the damage can be contained,” says Mindy. “Finally, planting the largest tree possible for each site will give us the most environmental benefits.”
PHS Tree Tenders prioritizes environmental justice neighborhoods – neighborhoods that have low tree canopy, high crime rates, high population density, and low income. PHS uses horticulture to build healthier, more sustainable, enjoyable living spaces and to create a positive impact on residents in our region.