I consider myself to be relatively environmentally conscious. I recycle. I wash my clothes in cold water. I don’t compost, but I respect those that do.
I read somewhere that Charlotte’s tree canopy has begun to decline due to weather events and development. This is the kind of statistic that interests me. Speaking to people who have moved to North Carolina, a comment I often hear is “it’s so green here!” We also have the unofficial moniker, “City of Trees.” That’s a reputation worth holding on to.
I decided I wanted to do my part to help Charlotte stay green, but then two things happened.
1. I remembered that I already have more than enough trees in my yard.
2. I also remembered that I’m not that great at gardening.
So, how do I contribute to the canopy if my own resources are so unfortunate? Well, first step, Google.
I quickly found a local non-profit that plants trees in and around the Charlotte area. Enter TreesCharlotte. They’re planning to add 500,000 trees to Charlotte’s canopy by 2050, and I was determined to help out.
On a chilly Saturday morning, Jason and I woke up early and made our way to an elementary school campus out in the university area and got to work.
80 volunteers had shown up in total. We were split into three groups, each with their own team of Treemasters. We grabbed shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows and started on our planting journey.
We were treated to a demonstration on how to correctly plant trees. Apparently, tossing them in the ground and filling the hole up with dirt is the wrong way. That might be why I kill every plant I touch.
The holes had already been started with a large auger vehicle. It was up to us to ensure the holes were the proper depth to encourage healthy growth of the trees.
Once the hole was ready, the tree went in and we had to “tickle the roots;” a way to stimulate the root ball to spread out and not circle around the tree as it’s growing. After a few shovelfuls of dirt, we were to pause and stomp down the soil to rid it of any air pockets which could cause the tree to settle crooked or foster rot and mold growth. Who knew? I definitely didn’t expect to learn so much at a tree planting event.
After the demonstration, Jason and I found a lonely maple tree and set about creating a home for it.
We took turns digging and stomping until our first tree stood proudly in the crisp morning air. We watched the other volunteers in our group as they did the same. We had our planting skills checked by a Treemaster, and once we were given the thumbs up, moved on to another planting site behind the school. By the end of the event, my little team had planted three trees and the entire group had added adorable tree babies to the campus.
It was a chilly morning and I walked away covered in dirt, but I’m so glad I signed up for this event. It was fun and informative, and the feeling you get from volunteering in your community is a tough one to beat.
Oh, and Jason got to be in a video for TreesCharlotte.
If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity, I highly recommend finding a planting event near you. The people who run these plantings do a fantastic job.
Number 60: Plant a tree. Check!