Green Streets Crew revives North Camden trees

August 10, 2015Camden, NJ – Trees in North Camden are looking beautiful thanks to the New Jersey Tree Foundation’sGreen Streets Crew. The Crew, comprised of men under parole supervision, GS crew groupspent part of July and August weeding, mulching, and pruning trees block-by-block in North Camden. Their work is one component of a Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) grant awarded to Camden Lutheran Housing earlier this year.

“The NJ Tree Foundation has planted about 700 trees in North Camden through our Urban Airshed Reforestation Program, which provides free trees to Camden residents,” explains NJ Tree Foundation Senior Program Director Jessica Franzini. “As part of the sustainability of our Program, residents care for the trees we plant. Sometimes the care the trees need goes beyond resident capability. That is where the Green Streets Crew helped out this summer.”

The Green Streets Crew educated residents on what a properly maintained tree pit and tree should look like through weeding, mulching, and pruning. Green Streets is the contract-based arm of the NJ Tree Foundation. Its purpose is two-fold, first, to give ex-offenders an opportunity to learn a trade they can use after they leave prison, and second, to raise money for the NJ Tree Foundation’s inner-city free tree programs. Men on the Crew are trained in tree planting and maintenance from NJ Tree Foundation staff then given seasonal jobs to help themtransition back into society.

Trees with gator bagsCities and towns can hire Green Streets to conduct tree planting, tree maintenance, and other green infrastructure work such as creating rain gardens. The North Camden summer work through the NRTC grant extended the season for the Green Streets Crew, whose temporary positions usually end after tree planting contracts are complete in late May or early June.

“It was great to keep the guys on longer this year. We had a really good crew. They are proud of the work they accomplished in Camden. We want to do more projects like this in the future,” said James Cunningham, NJ Tree Foundation Green Streets Crew Supervisor.

Camden Lutheran Housing applied for the NRTC grant to support elements of North Camden’s neighborhood plan. Planting new trees and increasing the neighborhood’s capacity to care for existing trees are both goals of the neighborhood plan. Any NJ DCA NRTC approved neighborhood plan in the state of New Jersey could potentially apply for NRTC funding. If the approved plan includes tree planting or care, the NJ Tree Foundation is available to implement those elements of the plan.

“This was a great partnership,” Ms. Franzini said. “Trees make such a big difference in a city, both environmentally and socially. The work of the Green Streets Crew got residents excited about their trees again and brought pride into the neighborhood. Some of the tree pits were really overgrown and now they look so beautiful!”

This fall, the NJ Tree Foundation will be planting more trees in North Camden as part of Camden Lutheran Housing’s NRTC grant. Volunteers will be needed to help plant the trees. Check back on our Volunteer in Camden page if you would like to be involved!