NJ Tree Foundation and volunteers to plant trees this Spring!

April 8, 2016New Jersey – This spring, the NJ Tree Foundation will plant over 200 trees in urban communities with help from city residents and community volunteers.

Trees are an important part of a city’s infrastructure. They assist with stormwater management and improve air and water quality. They also offer a number of social benefits. Trees provide shade for people to sit outside on the sidewalk in front of their homes, add beauty and nature to cities, increase property values, and some tree species provide fresh fruit. The NJ Tree Foundation has seen trees unite neighbors as its community-based tree planting events are initiated by local residents who also care for the trees after they are planted.

“Any resident of Camden or Newark can apply to us to receive a free street tree,” Franzini explains, “We plant in other cities of need, such as Gloucester City and Jersey City, as our funding allows. Anyone that doesn’t mind getting dirty can help us by volunteering to plant trees. We plant rain or shine. It is always a lot of fun.”

During spring 2016, the NJ Tree Foundation will host six community-based planting events in Camden, five in Newark, and one in Bayonne. The media is invited to attend all events. While many volunteers are still needed, some events are full and cannot accept additional volunteer groups. Please check our volunteer pages for more information and RSVP in advance to Jessica Franzini for Camden events, jfranzini@njtreefoundation.org or (856) 287-4488 and to Elena López, elopez@njtreefoundation.org or (609) 439-1755 for Newark/Bayonne events.

11265123_10153499822273273_437537869514375131_nEvents are held rain or shine. Come dressed for the weather in clothes suitable for getting dirty and wear closed-toe shoes. The NJ Tree Foundation will provide all tools needed for planting. A meeting location and directions will be provided upon RSVP. See you on the street!

td volunteers with ponchos

NJ Tree Foundation Green Streets Program Celebrates 10 Years

New Jersey, March 29, 2016 – The NJ Tree Foundation is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our Green Streets Program this week as Green Streets kicks off their spring tree planting season.

Green Streets operates as the for-profit arm of the NJ Tree Foundation to increase recurring income for our nonprofit programs. Through our nonprofit programs, we plant trees in cities of need and educate the public about urban forestry. Through Green Streets, we train and hire men under parole supervision to plant and maintain trees through contracts.

Cities and towns throughout New Jersey are positively impacted by Green Streets as the Program provides high quality, affordable tree planting and green infrastructure installations. But the people most impacted by the Green Streets Program are the crewmembers hired.

The men hired for Green Streets are trying to get back on their feet. This is difficult to accomplish with a criminal record and little to no work experience. But the NJ Tree Foundation prepares the men for work with a landscaping company, tree trimming service, urban forestry crew, or other similar green industry position. The men immediately put their training to use planting trees and installing rain gardens with the NJ Tree Foundation, while earning an income that can support them as they transition back into society.

In its 10-year history, Green Streets has employed almost 80 men. Rafael, a 2013 Green Streets graduate, explained how the Program impacted him, “I’ve learned so many things that I actually thought myself to be a professional. For the first time in my life it felt good doing something I loved doing. Thank you to the NJ Tree Foundation for giving me the chance no one else would.”

John, another Green Streets graduate, checked in with the NJ Tree Foundation and told them, “I am doing good, the best I’ve ever done in my life – going to meetings, church, helping others. I have a foundation and am strong in my space. The NJ Tree Foundation was the best program I ever worked for. It helped me in so many ways. The best thing is that I set up my own bank account and saved my money, something I couldn’t do when I was on the streets.”

The NJ Tree Foundation believes that Green Streets has seen 10 years of success for simple reasons. Lisa Simms, NJ Tree Foundation Executive Director, explains, “We treat them with respect. They work hard and do the job well. Our Crew Supervisor is a Green Streets graduate. Not only can he sympathize with where these guys are coming from, but he also serves as an inspiration for where they can go.”

The NJ Tree Foundation’s Green Streets Program has run in the same pickup truck since it started in 2006. The truck has done a great job but it is ready to retire. Please make a donation help Green Streets get a new truck for next season so that the Program can continue to green our state and provide opportunities for men trying to get back on their feet.

The new crew in training: digging a tree pit and removing the wire basket from the root ball.


NJ Tree Foundation Thanks 2015 Partners

The NJ Tree Foundation is starting strong in 2016 thanks to our 2015 partners and supporters. We are so appreciative of everyone who donated to our Annual Appeal. In the end we were just short of our $10,000 goal. Thank you to everyone who helped us start strong in 2016 by donating!

We would like to thank Ground Swell, Inc., who recently completed an email migration to put the NJ Tree Foundation staff email on Google Apps. This important switch brings us into the cloud, keeping our records safe from computer crashes and improving our connectivity.

Ground SwellGround Swell logo w QRCode is a managed service provider headquartered in Egg Harbor City, NJ. They are a small business providing locally outsourced IT for other small and medium-sized businesses across New Jersey. If your business is losing time and money to IT issues we recommend contacting Ground Swell to see how they can help you improve your infrastructure and move your business forward. The in-kind services Ground Swell provided the NJ Tree Foundation saved us enough money to purchase 25 trees at least ten feet tall!

“The NJ Tree Foundation had a great experience working with Ground Swell. They focused on what would improve our organization’s IT, which ultimately was a cloud-based system since we work from multiple places,” explains Lisa Simms, Executive Director of the NJ Tree Foundation. “Not only did they do a great job with our email migration, they were also friendly and easy to work with.”

Additionally, the NJ Tree Foundation was awarded several grants in December 2015, helping us start 2016 strong. These include:

– The Watershed Institute, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association grant of $9,500. This funding will be used to provide TreeKeepers workshops in Camden and Newark, as well as create and print new tree care booklets for all tree recipients, increasing public knowledge of trees as green infrastructure and the public’s ability to care for street trees.

– Campbell Soup Foundation grant of $25,000. This funding will be used in the City of Camden to plant 50 new fruit trees through a volunteer planting event and fruit tree giveaway. Fruit trees will increase public access to fresh, affordable produce and improve quality of life.

– Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grant of $20,000. This general support funding for the NJ Tree Foundation will help the organization with all projects in 2016.

– The Victoria Foundation grant of $15,000. This funding will allow the NJ Tree Foundation’s Renaissance Trees Program to remove concrete and plant trees in the Ironbound Neighborhood in the City of Newark, increasing the tree canopy and improving watershed health.

The NJ Tree Foundation would also like to thank its major in-kind supporters in 2015, including: City of Camden, City of Jersey City, City of Newark, MAFCO Worldwide Corporation, Spruce Goose Farm, Smith’s Ace Hardware, and United Water Camden.

Here’s to another great year, improving New Jersey’s tree canopy one tree at a time!

Columbia Park Reforesting

Lowe's Heroes Columbia Park.2Thanks to a $10,000 donation from Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant, The NJ Tree Foundation planted 20 trees, 19 shrubs, and 100 perennials creating 5 microhabitats and beautifying Columbia Park in Jersey City, NJ on September 10. Jersey City Department of Parks and Forestry helped grind out some stumps, and the Columbia Park Greenville Memorial Inc. Association helped coordinate the project. Jersey City Councilwoman-at-Large, Joyce Watterman, addressed the volunteers thanking them and the Tree Foundation for their service to Jersey City. Despite the rain, nine hard-working Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers came to dig, plant, and mulch in the park. To read more about our work in the park, check out this article or view these photos.

Check out video coverage of the event.


NJ Tree Foundation & Keep Jersey City Beautiful Receives $10,000 Grant from Lowe’s

874_resizedJersey City, NJ (September 9, 2015)– The NJ Tree Foundation and Keep Jersey City Beautiful announced that Lowe’s has awarded a $10,000 grant to help make Jersey City a clean, green and a more beautiful place to live. Tree planting to take place Thursday September 10, 9AM -12 noon in Columbia Park.

The Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant provides funding for the Columbia Park reforestation project, to be completed on September 10, 2015 with the assistance of local Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers. This project will plant perennials, shrubs, and 20 trees that are at least 10 feet tall in Columbia Park. Certified Tree Experts recently evaluated Columbia Park. This project will plant all of the new trees in the park’s Tree Maintenance Plan as recommended by the Certified Tree Experts. The project will also create five microhabitats, with shrubs and perennials surrounding trees to provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

“We are thankful for the support from Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s to implement this much needed project. Our trees suffered greatly during Hurricane Sandy and other extreme storms. This grant will allow us to plant new trees, shrubs, and perennials to bring more beauty into Columbia Park,” said Mr. Doug Carlucci, Aide to the Mayor. “We are fortunate to work with the NJ Tree Foundation to complete this work as they have over 15 years experience implementing similar projects,” Mr. Carlucci added.

“The NJ Tree Foundation is very excited for the Columbia Park project. Trees are an important resource as they mitigate air pollution and a20150909_095037_resizedbsorb stormwater to reduce flooding,” explained Elena López, Program Director for the NJ Tree Foundation.

The Columbia Park project grant is one of 50 merit-based grants awarded nationally by Lowe’s to community-based affiliates of Keep America Beautiful in support of grassroots service projects ranging from restoring neighborhood parks and planting community gardens to leading disaster restoration initiatives and large-scale cleanups.

“We take great pride in the work we do with Keep America Beautiful to improve the health of our communities,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We look forward to inspiring more people to join us so that we can continue to make our communities better places to live.”

Keep America Beautiful affiliates and partnering organizations received nearly 245 Lowe’s grants the past three years. Through this partnership, nearly 1 million flowers and bulbs have been planted; more than 225 playgrounds and recreational areas have been built or revitalized; and more than 1,000 community gardens have been planted.

Over the course of the partnership, Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s have brought together more than 40,000 volunteers and 1,000 Lowe’s Heroes. Together, they’ve contributed 196,000 volunteer hours to improve their respective communities.

Lowe’s also provides support as a national sponsor of Keep America Beautiful’s flagship program, the Great American Cleanup, which takes place in 20,000 communities from coast to coast. This national program engages on average 4 million volunteers and participants who take action to create positive change and lasting impact.

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!

NJ Tree Foundation plants trees along the Camden Greenway

May 2, 2015 – Camden, NJ – When a large volunteer group informed the NJ Tree Foundation they could no longer assist with a tree planting event along Erie Street in Camden today, Senior Program Director Jessica Franzini put out a call for help. And that is exactly what she received – as more than 50 people came together to plant 40 trees to beautify the Camden Greenway. Within the next week, 100+ shrubs will be added to today’s planting locations.

“I am so grateful for all the volunteers that are here today. TD Bank and Adventure Aquarium both sent large groups,” explained Franzini, “This planting is special because it is part of our Trees for Trails project funded by the William Penn Foundation. Through this project we are planting 75 trees and 200 shrubs/perennials along the Camden Greenway.”

The Camden Greenway is part of the Greater Philadelphia Regional Circuit Trail Network. When complete, the Circuit will have more than 750 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting Philadelphia to Camden and the surrounding region. As it stands about 300 miles of this trail network are completed.

The volunteers had a great time learning about the Camden Greenway while digging holes and planting trees. The new trees will create habitat for wildlife and assist with decreasing stormwater runoff. In preparation for today’s planting, 640 square feet of concrete were removed to make space for the trees. This will allow an estimated 30,000 gallons of stormwater to filter naturally on an annual basis, rather than ending up in Camden’s combined sewer system where it contributes to flooding.

“Today, we are trying to do two things. We want to increase the tree canopy in Camden to improve the city’s water and air quality,” Franzini remarked, “And we also want to connect local residents to the beautiful resource of the Camden Greenway. Put on your sneakers or get on your bike. Come out and enjoy the trees along the trail!”

To learn more about The Circuit and see its completed, under construction, and proposed trails, visit www.connectthecircuit.org/.

NJ Tree Foundation Celebrates Earth Day and Arbor Day

April 21, 2015New Jersey – With Earth Day and Arbor Day only two days apart, this is an exciting week. We hope you are able to get involved with a community greening, clean up, or other Earth-friendly event to celebrate.

Starting on Monday April 20th, the NJ Tree Foundation’s Green Streets Program is planting 630 trees and 170 shrubs and perennials in Madison, NJ. This large-scale project will help restore a 20-acre tract of land to it’s natural state. Madison has one of the only fresh water wetlands in New Jersey.

On Tuesday April 21st, New Jersey Tree Foundation staff are joining Camden City Mayor Redd and the Camden SMART Team to kick off Earth Week at the Yorkship School in Camden City. They are planting a downspout planter box with the students and giving out Environmental Hero Awards.

On Wednesday April 22nd, celebrate Earth Day!

On Friday April 24th, celebrate Arbor Day!

Wrapping up this week on Saturday April 25th the NJ Tree Foundation’s Newark Renaissance Trees Program and Camden Urban Airshed Reforestation Program are planting trees in Newark and Camden. The Newark event, in partnership with the Ironbound Community Corporation, will plant 12 trees to improve air and water quality. The Camden event is a Broadway beautification project that will plant 10 trees.

newark for earth:arbor day post


Enjoy celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day. Come out to plant with us this spring as a NJ Tree Foundation volunteer!



NJ Tree Foundation, Campbell Soup Company plant fruit trees in Camden

April 16, 2015Camden, NJ – The spring weather was beautiful as Campbell Soup Company volunteers joined New Jersey Tree Foundation staff to plant 10 fruit trees at “The 600” Community Garden in Camden City on Wednesday April 15th. This planting, funded by the Campbell Soup Foundation, is part of a New Jersey TreeFoundation effort to bring more fresh fruit, and trees, into cities.

“The majority of Camden is considered a food desert,” explains NJ Tree Foundation Senior Program Director Jessica Franzini. “This means most low-income residents live more than one mile away from the closest grocery store. Without a car, that makes grocery shopping extremely difficult. Camden City has many thriving community gardens – we are working with them to bring fruit trees as another option for fresh food.”

The planting brought cherry, peach, pear, and plum trees to “The 600” Community Garden. Campbell Soup Company provided volunteers for the event as part of “Make A Difference Week,” Campbell’s annual week of service that began on Monday April 13th. Throughout the week nearly 3,000 Campbell Soup Company employees will volunteer for more than 90 community projects. “The 600” Campbell Soup MADWCommunity Garden planting had 15 volunteers including seven Campbell Soup employees from the Camden City world headquarters.

The volunteers had a great time digging holes, planting trees, and creating garden beds. One Campbell Soup employee volunteer explained how rewarding it was to “help get good food to the families.” The fruit trees are expected to bear fruit within one year.

The day’s events also included a fruit tree giveaway hosted by the New Jersey Tree Foundation. The giveaway provided an additional 32 fruit trees to community gardens throughout Camden City. Community gardens had to submit an application to receive the free trees, which came with planting and care instructions.

NJTF on Comcast Newsmakers

Check out our exciting spring planting projects happening in Camden, NJ in this Comcast Newsmakers feature!

Trees for Trails is a project made possible by the William Penn Foundation. Fruit tree projects in Camden are made possible by Campbell Soup Foundation and So Delicious. Rain to Roots is a project sponsored by the Environmental Leadership Program.