FREE Right Tree Right Place Seminar 7/21/2016!

The New Jersey Tree Foundation and Public Service Electric & Gas are offering a FREE seminar on Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place, the Right Way on Thursday, July 21st at the Passaic County Public Safety Academy, 300 Oldham Road, Wayne, NJ.  Please RSVP by Friday, July 15, 2016 to Lisa Simms

Topics include:

  • Planting the right tree, in the right place, the right way
  • The importance of utility mark-outs prior to planting
  • Emerald Ash Borer – It’s here! Now what?
  • Vegetation management policies to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electric service
  • Grant opportunities

 Who should attend? Mayors, Freeholders, DPW Supervisors, Environmental & Shade Tree Commissioners, County Officials and any other interested parties. Space is limited. First come first served.

Date: Thursday, July 21, 2016

Time: Registration begins at 8:15 am. Program starts promptly at 9:00 am and runs until 12:30 pm.

Place: Passaic County Public Safety Academy, 300 Oldham Road, Room 122-A&B, Wayne, NJ 

A continental breakfast will be served.

This seminar is worth 3 Continuing Education Units for towns with a 5-year Community Forestry Management Plan.

Please RSVP by Friday, July 15th to

If you would like send a representative(s), please include their names and contact information (email address).

PSEG logoRTRP Hudson 005

NJ Tree Foundation’s Renaissance Trees Program Celebrates 10 Years

May 23, 2016Newark, New Jersey – This spring, the NJ Tree Foundation’s Renaissance Trees Program is hitting a milestone: ten years of planting trees in Newark. The Program began in 2006 to reforest New Jersey’s brick city. The NJ Tree Foundation celebrated the ten year anniversary of the Newark Renaissance Trees Program, and Newark’s 350th anniversary, by planting 16 trees and 350 edible plants at the Garden of Hope on Saturday May 21st.

may21planting-41“We have great partners that helped us celebrate our 10 year anniversary,” explains Elena López, Program Director for the NJ Tree Foundation. “Prudential brought about 20 employee volunteers and donated 350 edible plants. Newark SAS and other partners will take care of the trees long term.”

The NJ Tree Foundation’s Renaissance Trees Program has planted more than 2,400 trees in Newark to date and removed more than 20,300 square feet of concrete to plant those trees. Saturday’s planting included removing 176 square feet of concrete. Removing concrete and planting trees improves watershed health and reduces the stormwater burden on Newark’s combined sewer system. It is estimated that the new tree pits alone will allow 8,250 gallons of stormwater to filter naturally on an annual basis rather than become polluted runoff.

“Trees are a great solution to many urban environmental problems,” López notes, “They reduce stormwater runoff, clean the air, shade homes to reduce cooling bills, and bring beauty to neighborhoods. Two of the trees planted at the Garden of Hope are fruit trees, which have the added benefit of creating new, local sources for fresh and affordable produce.”

 Newark residents and visitors are now able to enjoy the 16 new trees planted to celebrate the Renaissance Trees Program’s 10 year anniversary, and very soon the community gardeners at the Garden of Hope will harvest the bounty of the 350 edible plants that went in the ground. The shade and fruit trees are expected to live for decades, benefiting people today and future generations as part of the Newark 350 Gives legacy.

NJ Tree Foundation hosts 60-fruit tree giveaway in Camden

May 11, 2016, Camden, NJfruit tree 1The rain on Saturday May 7th did not stop 22 community and backyard gardeners from picking up 60 fruit trees from the NJ Tree Foundation. Pear, apple, plum, and apricot trees were disbursed to be planted throughout Camden as part of a grant the NJ Tree Foundation received from the Campbell Soup Foundation.

“Camden residents have limited options to obtain affordable, fresh produce within city limits. This project is creating new food access points for residents while empowering them to grow their own food,” said Jessica Franzini, Senior Program Director for the NJ Tree Foundation. Franzini led the giveaway on Saturday. She taught gardeners about fruit tree planting and care and provided tools, mulch, and educational materials to each garden so they could properly care for their trees. Franzini noted, “I will keep in touch with the gardeners over the summer and we will have a Harvest Party in the fall to share lessons from the season. Some gardeners have never grown fruit before. We want them to have a positive experience.”

The event was held at the Vietnamese Community Garden in East Camden, which received six fruit trees. Lan Dinh of VietLead, who works in the garden, explained, “This is an intergenerational and multiracial garden of Vietnamese elders and youth of various backgrounds and ethnicities. Our new fruit trees, which include Asian pears, apples, and apricots, will offer diversity to our garden and help feed the families who rely on this garden for fresh food.”

fruit tree 3Most gardens received one to three fruit trees. The Yorkship School obtained the most, with 15 teachers taking 10 fruit trees for their school garden. The teachers planted the trees in the afternoon after picking them up in the morning with help from Pacesetters of South Jersey. Students will care for the trees and enjoy the fruit. The Yorkship School is registered with Sustainable Jersey for Schools and two of their teachers completed free NJ Tree Foundation tree care workshops to become Certified TreeKeepers.

Pastor Odessa Edmond, of the Whitman Park neighborhood, picked up two fruit trees. “Our church waited two years for our fruit trees. The families at our church will benefit from this harvest for years to come,” the Pastor explained.

In total, 22 community and backyard gardens benefited from the project in neighborhoods such as East Camden, Cramer Hill, North Camden, Lanning Square, Morgan Village, Whitman Park, and Cooper Grant. All fruit trees were gone by early afternoon but that did not stop more Camden residents from coming to see how they could get a fruit tree.

Franzini mentioned, “The NJ Tree Foundation had a waiting list for fruit trees before this event and now we have another one. We hope to hold an event like this next spring, as it was such a success.”

All tree species provided are semi-dwarfing, self-pollinating trees from HopeWell Nursery in Bridgeton. The NJ Tree Foundation and nursery staff worked together to pick species that will survive well in urban environments. The NJ Tree Foundation thanks the Campbell Soup Foundation for their support which made this event possible.

fruit tree 2

#NewarkGives: Thank you for your contributions!

May 4, 2016 – Newark, New Jersey –newark yay On Tuesday May 3rd, the Newark community and beyond united to celebrate Newark’s 350th anniversary by donating to the city they love. Newark Celebration 350 hosted the online giving event which raised funds for four legacy projects. The NJ Tree Foundation’s legacy project is planting 350 trees in Newark!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our legacy project. #NewarkGives had so much interest that it broke the internet! The giving server crashed and donations could not be accepted for several hours. If you tried but were unable to donate to the legacy gift of planting 350 trees in Newark, please donate directly to the NJ Tree Foundation. Write “Newark350Gives” in the box that asks “Where do you want your donation to go?” Your contribution will help us leave a legacy of 350 new trees in Newark, trees that will be enjoyed by generations to come!

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, or (856) 287-4488 and to Elena López, 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.


Upcoming Events in Camden

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 2.33.05 PMCheck out these exciting upcoming events, being offered by our partners in Camden!

Newton Creek Clean Up in Camden
with the Tri-County Sustainability Alliance and South Jersey Land and Water Trust
Saturday, April 9th

FREE Soil Testing: Camden’s Soil Shop
at the Parkside Learning Garden
Saturday, April 16th
* Free soil testing done on site *

Smart forum[3]Camden SMART Forum
at Adventure Aquarium
$25 to register, Camden residents free
Wednesday, April 20th

Camden Tree Planting Events
Our spring tree planting season will soon begin in Camden. Join us as we dig holes and plant trees in several Camden neighborhoods. For a full list of upcoming NJ Tree Foundation planting events, please click here.

FREE Right Tree Right Place Workshop! – Registration is closed.

Registration for this seminar is closed. We have reached capacity. Thank you for your interest! There will be more of these seminars in the coming months.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation and Public Service Electric & Gas are offering a FREE seminar on Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place, the Right Way on Friday, March 25th at the Edison PSE&G Training CenterPlease RSVP by Friday, March 18, 2016 to Lisa Simms

Topics include:

  • Planting the right tree, in the right place, the right way
  • The importance of utility mark-outs prior to planting
  • Emerald Ash Borer – It’s here!
  • Vegetation management policies to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electric service
  • Grant opportunities

 Who should attend? Mayors, Freeholders, DPW Supervisors, Environmental & Shade Tree Commissioners, County Officials and any other interested parties. Space is limited. First come first served.

Date: Friday, March 25, 2016

Time: Registration begins at 8:00am. Program starts promptly at 8:30 am and runs until Noon.

Place: PSEG Edison Training & Development Center, 234 Pierson Ave., Room 254, Edison, NJ 08837

A continental breakfast will be served.

This seminar is worth 3 Continuing Education Units for towns with a 5-year Community Forestry Management Plan.

Please RSVP by Friday, March 18 to

If you would like send a representative(s), please include their names and contact information (email address).

PSEG logoRTRP Hudson 005

Who Makes It Happen? Spotlight on Lisa Simms

This year, the NJ Tree Foundation (NJTF) is taking some time to recognize the amazing people behind the work that we do. For our first spotlight, it is only fitting to feature our Executive Director and co-founder, Lisa Simms!

While it would be easy for us to list her credentials and the many prestigious awards she has received, we want to first share with you a story about Lisa that you cannot easily find with a Google search. One that helps demonstrate her dedication to our cities – and her ability to approach all situations with a smile, a good sense of humor, and a quality of work that can be respected by even the toughest critics.

As told by Lisa…

“Fall 2001: Our first community-based tree planting in Camden. I arrive that morning to meet the tree nursery delivery truck. Two men are sitting in an unmarked car on the street. I walk up to the car (yes, I know what you’re thinking: CLUELESS! And, you’re right!) The conversation goes like this:

Me: Hi! Are you here to volunteer for the tree planting?

Men: No. We’re police officers. This street is a known drug zone.

Me: Oh. Well, my name is Lisa and I’m from the NJ Tree Foundation. We’re planting 25 trees on Clinton Street with Habitat for Humanity today!

Officers: (Give each other a look and laugh). You’re planting trees in Camden? Trees? Yeah, they’ll be here tomorrow. (More laughter).

Me: Yep. It’s going to be a GREAT day! The residents are going to plant trees in front of their homes. If you want to stick around and help…?

Officers: You’re crazy, you know that? This is Camden. No one wants trees here. They’ll be gone by the morning. No one is going to help you. You’re gonna have a long day! Do you know what this city is like?

Me: You’ll be surprised. Really. If you’re here at noon, we’re serving lunch for the volunteers. Please stop by! (Tree truck arrives). Ok, I gotta go. Hope to see you at lunch!

Officers: (More laughter)

The tree planting goes very well. Every resident on the block helps to plant the 25 trees, and we are done by 11:30am. The street is transformed and already has shade! As we wrap up and have lunch, the undercover police officers walk up. One officer has something in his hand.

Me: Hi! I’m so glad you made it for lunch!

Officer: Lisa, this is amazing. This is the first time we have ever seen residents come out of their homes, let alone work together on something. We have never seen anything like this in Camden. The trees are beautiful! We bought you lottery tickets. I hope you win you so can continue to do this in Camden.”

Since then, Lisa developed a robust program that has planted over 5,000 trees in Camden since 2002. All plantings are community-based and follow the above model, where residents help plant and care for trees. She replicated that program in Newark, where nearly 2,500 trees have been planted since 2006. In addition, she created a fee-for-service branch of the organization (pun totally intended!) to offer affordable tree planting and landscaping services to NJ towns while providing jobs to ex-offenders transitioning back to society from prison. That program, Green Streets, has employed over 50 men since it’s inception in 2006.

Group w bearsLisa has a degree in environmental science from Rutgers New Brunswick and 20+ years experience in the urban forestry field. She is the recipient of the Joyce Kilmer Award, the Gold Leaf Award, and the Green Community Achievement Award. The NJTF has planted over 200,000 trees across the state under her leadership. Thank you, Lisa, for all you have done and continue to do!

Lisa is pictured left (center) with the Green Streets Crew.

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!