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The Flower Show

Volunteer Spotlight: Abdallah Tabet Shares His Passion for Tree Tending

April 13, 2023

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By Anne Lockhart

Abdallah Tabet has been a self-proclaimed “tree hugger” his whole life. He decided to act on his passion when he started volunteering with PHS’s West Philly Tree Tenders groups and other non-PHS affiliated planting groups in the West Philly area. After passionately volunteering for years in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood following his move to the area, Abdallah became the leader of the Graduate Hospital West Tree Tenders group in 2017. Find out why Abdallah is so passionate about planting trees and how he continues to build up the tree canopy in Philadelphia with his team of Tree Tenders. 

What Inspired Abdallah to Get Involved 

Abdallah mainly plants in the Graduate Hospital area, where he has lived for the past several years. He is drawn to this area for many reasons, including how central the location is to the rest of the city, and how close it is to the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a professor. After moving from West Philadelphia to Graduate Hospital, Abdallah realized how much he missed the sycamore trees that lined the streets of his old neighborhood. Not only did these trees provide beauty but they also provided shade.

The lack of trees and shade in Abdallah’s new neighborhood inspired him to get himself and the community involved in local tree plantings. Since he is also a practicing landscape architect, planting hundreds of trees for clients, he wanted to give back to his neighborhood and emphasize awareness of the importance of the tree canopy in the city.  

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The Power of Planting Trees 

When first starting off, Abdallah aimed to plant around 10 to 15 trees each planting season. With the help of PHS and his community, this effort has grown to about 120 trees planted in the Graduate Hospital area each year. The Graduate Hospital West Tree Tenders group works with PHS, the community, and other groups such as The Friend of Chester Arthur School, and a local church which lets them use their parking as a staging and storage area. Furthermore, their efforts are supported by local businesses such as Veolia and Ultimo. 

The trees Abdallah and his team have planted not only bring him joy but have had a long-term positive impact on the community. “When I walk to work, I look and realize I know almost every single tree.” he says. “I see how they are growing and see how people are taking care of them. Year after year there is more involvement from people defending the trees and caring for them. It went from something people were resisting to something that is bringing people together,” says Abdallah.  

One of his greatest motivations to continue planting in this area is seeing how everybody comes together to plant and care for these trees. The community has grown to love these trees because of how they have brought people together while also providing shade and beauty to the area. Within the past few years, Abdallah has noticed more children who want to get involved in planting and tree care -- which has been an amazing opportunity to educate youth on horticulture and have them spend more time outside.  

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Expanding the Tree Canopy 

Spring is tree planting season -- the perfect time to shine a light on the volunteers and Tree Tenders who are at the forefront of urban canopy expansion efforts. From providing shade to bringing the community together, Abdallah and his team have shown the power that trees hold in a neighborhood. He hopes to continue planting trees with the Graduate Hospital West Tree Tenders group until there are no more spots to be filled. He also looks forward to continuing to get people excited about growing and fostering their beautiful new trees!  

Join PHS and over 80 neighborhood-based Tree Tenders groups in planting 1,400 trees across the region between April 20 - 24.