100th Westville Tree Planted
by David Sepulveda | Aug 3, 2012 2:55 pm
Posted to: Environment, Westville
At the base of the freshly planted tree Thursday evening, a small plaque bore a circular medallion in an image of a tree. It was inscribed “100th Tree Planted 2012.”
The plaque was created to commemorate a milestone in work of the Westville Community Green Space Group, a local organization that began its work six years ago, transforming vacant curb lawn and masonry strips into handsome, tree-planted oases garnished with flowering perennials.
Neighbors gathered Thursday evening on West Rock Avenue across from Edgewood Park to plant yet another tree and mark a milestone in their efforts, the milestone noted in the inscription.
At Frio, the nearby gelateria that arguably scoops the region’s best gelato, a consortium of community groups and volunteers celebrated the planting of their 100th tree with champagne, delicious finger sandwiches and free gelato for early arrivals.
Volunteers who helped plant the last three trees included 10 participants from City Church who saw advertising by project collaborators, Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA), and decided to “lend a hand.” Church members Kate and Matt Deciccio provided their 2-year old daughter Lily with a firsthand experience in volunteerism and shoveling. Seth Poole, Democratic Party 24th Ward co-chairman and program director of the Boys and Girls Club, brought several young volunteers along as well. Also present was a core of volunteers and Westville Westville Community Green-Space Co-Chair Debby Evens, who have been steadfast in planting trees over the past five weeks—“even through the heat waves,” according to WVRA executive Director Chris Heitmann.
The green space group’s founder, Jessica Feinleib of Westville (pictured at far left supervising the work Thursday night), was on hand at the event. She said that the idea for the group was born out of a personal experience but evolved into a full-fledged organization with funding and a mission six years ago.
During the festivities, Feinleib thanked volunteers and underscored the importance of their mission: “What good will these 100 trees do, you may ask. They will provide much needed shade, enhance our sense of community, and slow traffic. They will provide our community with greater than six thousand dollars in benefits, 40,000 gallons of storm water runoff will be avoided, conserve 2500 kilowatt hours for cooling and reduce atmospheric carbon by 9000 pounds this year alone.”
Feinleib recalled being pregnant at the time and struggling to navigating her way up Willard Street under the hot sun; she found little refuge and relief in the way of shade. Her reaction was to call the city to ask if trees could be planted along stretches of her travel route.
Though the city was unable to meet her request, Feinleib was put in touch with Colleen-Murphy Dunning, director of The Urban Resources Initiative (URI), an umbrella organization and “not-for-profit university partnership whose mission is to foster community-based land stewardship, promote environmental education and advance the practice of urban forestry.”
The enduring partnership has since planted 100 trees in the Westville area including the strips fronting commercial shops in the village center, at Westville Community Nursery School, in front of the local firehouse, and in front of various residential homes.
Though the trees are free to recipients that agree to “host “ them, there is a catch: Residents, business owners and not-for-profits are asked to take stewardship of the trees, watering, inspecting, and generally nurturing the specimens—especially during the critical first few years after transplanting. Trees are delivered by URI with underwriting of costs shared by the City of New Haven, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, and the United Illuminating Company.
Though Westville is regarded by many as a well-treed neighborhood, Google Earth, the satellite imaging system, helped determine gaps in tree canopies, according to Murphy-Dunning. “Trees have a life span, some get diseased or damaged and eventually need replacing” she said.
One of the volunteers who helped plant trees, Mark Saron, seemed to sum up the commitment by many of the volunteers: “If you don’t step up, it doesn’t get done, or those involved have to work three times as hard.”
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It’s wonderful that 100 trees have been planted. May I suggest planting native trees in the future. Native trees better suport native insects that are vital to migrating and nesting birds.
Totally agree with DR. This is a great program, and can continue to be great by planting more trees and continuing to improve by using native vegetation. Congrats to all involved!
Not to worry folks, though the 100th tree bears a fancy name, Most trees utilized are native species (Dogwoods and Maples)among them, and are selected by highly educated specialists - arborists and the like.
The golden rain tree is native to eastern Asia, not the US. In fact, in some states it is considered to be an invasive species.
Being a maple or dogwood does not make a tree native. Being a “highly educated specialist” does not make one committed to using native plants.
A tree that is native to another country does not necessarily make it less adaptable or beneficial. Non-native specimen trees are utilized to great effect and benefit all over the US. No harm, no foul. Let’s focus on the good that the rain tree and all others will bring, instead of knit-picking and finding fault over this non issue.
Sorry, Truth Avenger, but a tree native to another country IS less beneficial.
Dr. Doug Tallamy, perhaps the most preeminent entomologist and wildlife ecologist in the US, writes:
What will it take to give our local animals what they need to survive and reproduce on our properties? NATIVE PLANTS, and lots of them. This is a scientific fact deduced from thousands of studies about how energy moves through food webs. Here is the general reasoning. All animals get their energy directly from plants, or by eating something that has already eaten a plant. The group of animals most responsible for passing energy from plants to the animals that can’t eat plants is insects. This is what makes insects such vital components of healthy ecosystems. So many animals depend on insects for food (e.g., spiders, reptiles and amphibians, rodents, 96% of all terrestrial birds) that removing insects from an ecosystem spells its doom. (http://bringingnaturehome.net/native-gardening/gardening-for-life)
Native oak trees support as many as 518 native moths and butterflies. The best alien tree is the pear which supports only 119 native moths and butterflies. And the golden rain tree supports only one. (http://udel.edu/~dtallamy/new_xls/webplants.xls)
Native is better.
Good community endeavor that is environmentally sound. No need to bicker over type of trees being planted.
@DR…A few “non native” species are not going to damage to our ecosystem. Folks are trying to improve the landscape and the many benefits that come with planting trees. Perhaps you missed them in the article: “What good will these 100 trees do, you may ask. They will provide much needed shade, enhance our sense of community, and slow traffic. They will provide our community with greater than six thousand dollars in benefits, 40,000 gallons of storm water runoff will be avoided, conserve 2500 kilowatt hours for cooling and reduce atmospheric carbon by 9000 pounds this year alone.”
Spiders, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and terrestrial birds notwithstanding, the trees will be enjoyed by humans. Only feet away, is the vastness of Edgewood Park where all of the creatures you and the good Doctor cite, live in abundance. In principle, I agree with you that native species on the whole benefit our native creatures, but some native trees are not all that suitable because of size limitations, or debris they create for curbs in cities. “The Golden Rain Tree is justly popular since it is one of the few yellow-flowered trees. It is doubly interesting because it blooms in summer, when most other trees only have foliage to show.” The tree does have some edible applications: Its berries can be roasted and leaves and young shoots cooked…my research shows that it is also a good bee tree. The golden-rain tree is resistant to air pollution and does well on crowded urban boulevards. BTW, at what point in our evolution, does a plant or creature for that matter, qualify as being non native?
First, I would like to invite everyone to come out and plant with us for all of the reasons elegantly expressed in the article above.
To do this visit URIs web site
or if you want to contact Westville Community Greenspace Group please email me
(Please respect the fact that I list my name and personal email in this public forum.)
Secondly, in addition to the already discussed Golden Rain Tree we also planted many native trees; 1x Hop-hornbeam (rarely planted as a street tree), 4x Eastern Red-buds, 1x Linden (Tilia Americana as a bare root) 8x red maples and 2x serviceberry trees. We also planted some more non-native trees Kousa Dogwoods, purple leafed plums and another golden rain tree. The tree section process has many factors;
1)Ability of the tree to withstand salt, soil compaction and drought.
2)Disease and insect resistance (American elms and Ash are sadly out due to this issue.)
3) The size and shape of the site. If there are wires overhead a tall tree will be pruned by the utility company in the future. So understory trees are selected to avoid this issue.
4) The mixture of trees already near the site to avoid the issues of a monoculture (westville village is full of honeylocust and oak)
5) The type of drainage at the tree site.
6) The amount of leaves dropped in the fall and the timing of the leaf loss. Some oaks loose there leaves late in the fall after the city has stopped picking up yard waste. This is fine with some stewards and not with others.
7) Tree cost and availability. Our goal is to plant as many trees as possible to increase our tree canopy.
8) Lastly but most importantly are the wishes of the tree’s steward. A tree that is disliked by its steward or neighbors will not survive. Only if a tree has the full support of the community that planted the tree will it survive.
We have been making efforts to promote native tree species in our planting program. Often times the tree’s steward gets quiet a bit of education on native trees and many of our neighbors are now more aware of the stunning variety and benefits of planting native tree species. In the last 6 seasons we have planted a number of Tulip trees (yellow poplar) and serviceberry my personal favorite.
Thank you to Jessica and the volunteers and URI for beautifying our block. What a transformation in the last 10 years.
Although we are graced with a 240 acre front lawn (Edgewood Park), less than a decade ago our street looked like a freeway because of all the trees that had died on the side with the houses. Now we have shade, the sense that the street is a little smaller, and the side with houses is now tied together again with the park.
DR needs to get a life. Really!? How about focusing on what an amazing community we live in and that you have neighbors willing to give up their evenings to make your community a little nicer? Get a life!
One question: is there a way to have URI and Green Space Group maintain the trees at the 3-4 year point so that they grow to be healthy?
Good grief! Did any of you read my first post?
“It’s wonderful that 100 trees have been planted. May I suggest planting native trees in the future. Native trees better support insects that are vital to migrating and nesting birds.”
It’s wonderful! It’s great! Planting street trees is fantastic!
You folks are making a mountain out of the molehill suggestion that native trees be planted.
And my followup posts were in response to Truth Avenger’s misconceptions about the relative value of alien and native trees.
Jessica, you answered my concern. You do consider native plants.
Truth Avenger, read Doug Tallamy’s book, “Bringing Nature Home.”
Why don’t we just give the non-native tress immigration status and a “green” card and be done with it? Thank you, Westville Community Greenspace Group, for all the trees that have been planted and the expertise you have applied.
How wonderful that they have planted the 100th tree in Westville (albeit my old neighborhood). Unfortunately, certain parts of Westville don’t even have the need for beautification projects such as these. This project would have been more suited in an area such as “The Hill”.
Next time, think of us who don’t have the financial luxury of living in such a great area.
URI (Urban Resources Initiative) is open to all. If any community in New Haven would like to plant trees in the curb strip or “abandoned and derelict open spaces” in their neighborhood they may do so through URI.
Please go to this link and look at the community greenspace section for instructions on how to apply for trees, mulch, compost, plants, tools and assistance.
If you have the will and a few friends they have the way.
At the heart of their mission is community building.
In addition to the Greenspace program URI also has a green skills program that “employs high school students and ex-offenders”. This program too brings hope to many in the form of an improved environment
So an improved and beautified neighborhood need not be a luxury.
Please contact this fantastic organization and apply for their assistance.
WestvilleAdvocate thank you for your words of praise. This years work could not have been done without the support of the community, especially Chris Heitmann of Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA).
Westville Community Greenspace Group has planted these 100 trees over the course of the last 5 years and during that time we have done tree and tree pit maintenance on these sites 2-3 times a year. Many of the plantings around the trees are carefully tended by the occupants of the homes adjacent to the curb strips.
Tree pruning is very important for the young street tree to obtain the most suitable form for the space, to avoid the accumulation of suckers and remove damaged or poorly formed limbs.
URI offers yearly instruction on the topic of tree pruning that is open to all.
This fall we will be pruning trees and planting bulbs under this years batch of trees. We will announce this event through WVRA and invite all to help.