Branching Out

Thu., Oct. 7, 2021

By Sandra Albro, Director of Community Partnerships

People for Trees is off to a treerrific start.

Since unveiling our new tree campaign in February, we’ve been blown away by the number of people who have signed up to become People for Trees. To date, 1,100 pledges have committed to planting more than 3,800 trees in Northeast Ohio. While a majority of pledgers will be planting one or two new trees in their yards this year, some pledgers have restoration plantings in the works involving more than 100 trees. Large or small, these new plantings will be a welcome addition to the neighborhoods in urban, suburban and rural areas. To those who have already pledged: thank you for your involvement to growing our regional tree canopy.

In addition, Holden Forests & Gardens has been working on tree giveaways and plantings in partnership with local organizations, which will add another 1,400 trees to the official People for Trees count. On Arbor Day, we gave away 800 eastern redbud seedlings (Cercis canadensis) from both campuses as part of our annual celebration. In May, with the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights, we distributed 233 large potted trees consisting of five species that are well adapted to Northeast Ohio: bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), a large, stately shade tree that is great for wildlife; American elm (Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’), a large shade tree that is Dutch elm disease-resistant; Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), Ohio’s state tree; eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), a small native flowering tree that’s great for pollinators; and apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’).

When you visit Wade Oval or the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, keep an eye out for 63 new trees that we planted with partners including University Circle Inc., Holden Parks Trust and the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership. These plantings were made possible with support from the Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy initiative, which provides $1 million in funding each year to support local tree projects. Species include several species of oak as well as Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioica) and others.

Planting will scale up this fall with work on several additional community projects. We’re excited to partner with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) to plant 75 trees in three public housing estates on Cleveland’s east side. As part of this project, we’ll train public housing residents who are part of CMHA’s Green Team to plant and care for trees at these properties, which will provide them with supplemental income and perhaps inspire some of them to pursue careers in tree care. Additionally, in MidTown, Old Brooklyn, Central-Kinsman, and Detroit Shoreway-Cudell neighborhoods of Cleveland, we’ll work with local community development organizations to plant street trees, give away trees for planting in residential yards and hold tree care classes.

Tree Planting at Mentor Library.
Home Repair Resource Center tree giveaway.

Our People for Trees campaign has a goal of planting 15,000 trees in Northeast Ohio by 2025, or approximately 3,000 trees per year. As you can see, we’re well on our way to achieving our goal! But we have to sustain this momentum.

If you haven’t already had the chance to take our People for Trees pledge, we invite you to join the movement. You can sign up on our website by providing your name, email address and the number of trees you’d like to plant. In return, you’ll receive occasional e-newsletters containing links to tree care videos, written resources such as our Tree Care Toolkit and Tree Species Selection Guide and information about tree-related classes and programs. We also invite you to share photos of yourselves with your tree on social media using the hashtags #HoldenPeopleforTrees and #MyTreeinCLE. Many of you have already indicated an interest in volunteering. We hope to add volunteer projects in the future. In the meantime, we encourage you to volunteer within your community by inviting people to take the People for Trees pledge and getting involved with neighborhood tree projects. Together, we can make a difference.

The work in this article has been made possible with generous support from The Cleveland Foundation and the Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy initiative.

Sandra Albro

Sandra Albro

Director of Community Partnerships

Sandra Albro, Director of Community Partnerships at Holden Forests & Gardens, works to connect local communities to the wonder, beauty, and value of trees and plants. Her areas of expertise are in collaborative urban greening and vacant land use as tools for community health and revitalization. She was project manager for "Vacant to Vibrant", an urban greening initiative in three Great Lakes cities and is author of the book "Vacant to Vibrant: Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks" (Island Press, 2019).


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