Green Jobs: “A haircut for trees”

Sometimes our Green Streets Program hires guys that really stand out. Kaushire, who worked with me this past spring and summer, is one of them.

Kaushire hauling soil

Our Green Streets Program trains men under parole supervision to plant trees and complete green infrastructure work, like installing rain gardens. Most of these men simply need a second chance. They got wrapped up in the wrong things and need a job to support themselves and their families in a respectable way. Kaushire was no different. He has a son to support. He made a few mistakes while trying to earn money. But now, he has turned his life around.

Kaushire worked with us until the end of July when our season wrapped up. A warehouse hired Kaushire for part-time employment right after he finished with us. I was happy when he told me recently the warehouse had hired him permanent full-time. He is such a hard worker! You might have seen him smiling and laughing while he was moving concrete or mulch, planting trees, or installing a rain garden in your town.

When asked about his time with the Tree Foundation, Kaushire says, “I’m lucky. My crew got to work from end of March to the end of July. We planted trees. Lots of them! We worked hard. I liked pruning the trees. It’s like a haircut for trees. I’m so blessed to work for the Tree Foundation. Best experience of my life.”

Please help us provide more green job opportunities for guys like Kaushire. There are only a few days left to make a tax-deductible donation in 2016. With your support, we can plant more trees and offer a stepping-stone for men who deserve a second chance.

Thank you,
James Cunningham aka “Famous James”donate-button-jpeg
Urban Forestry Technician & Green Streets Crew Supervisor
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Me, Karon, and Kaushire after planting a rain garden in Newark

Trees “Rise Up” in Camden

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Marion and her grandmother Shiela

I have met many wonderful people while planting trees in Camden over the past eight years, and 17-year-old Marion is one of them. She wasn’t even a teenager when I first met her. I’ve seen her grow up planting trees and tending gardens in one of America’s toughest cities.

In 2012, Marion and I planted a willow tree with her family and neighbors at a newly-established community garden. The lot was completely barren at the time, and we planted the willow in tough, abandoned soil. The tree, in Marion’s words, “turned a deserted lot into an oasis of peace and hope in Camden.” She sees the willow as a metaphor for life – that beauty can grow from hardship and that hope can inspire an entire community to “rise up.” Marion wrote a poem inspired by the tree. The beloved willow won a regional “Tree of the Year” award after Marion and her grandmother entered the poem and a picture of the willow in a 2016 contest.

“Our community members fight poverty every day, yet the willow tree remains a peaceful place in our community, helping our residents see the importance of our urban canopy,” Marion’s poem states. It ends, “The willow tree represents a place of peace and calmness as the birds chirp, butterflies fly and the branches cascade around you as if to give you a hug or maybe even protect you.”

The NJ Tree Foundation works year-round to transform urban communities by planting trees. Marion’s neighborhood is a testament to the impressive transformation that can occur from a single tree. I hope that you will support the NJ Tree Foundation in reaching our goal of raising $10,000 by the end of December. Together, we can make neighborhoods rise up with trees.

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Jessica Franzini
Senior Program Director
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Marion’s “Tree of Hope” when first planted in 2012…
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…and thriving in 2016

Admiring Tree Lined Streets

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I first met the residents of Montrose Street in Newark (pictured above) in June 2016. Before Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, they had magnificent 100-year-old oaks lining their street. After the storms, they lost all but three of their beloved trees. They told me the summers were significantly hotter without shade. The peaceful aura of nature was lost. The void left behind was evident.

The Montrose Street residents were overjoyed to begin working with the NJ Tree Foundation’s Renaissance Trees Program, which helps city residents like them plant trees to improve their environment and quality of life. I worked with the Montrose Street neighbors for months to plan their tree planting event.

On November 5th, each and every resident on Montrose Street helped plant 29 trees, with every single eligible household accepting one or two trees in front of their home! “Montrose Street was blessed with a fabulous tree planting day. We planted 29 trees and we are ready to do it again,” exclaimed Yvonne, who received two trees and helped organize the planting. She continued, “It was truly phenomenal. It really united our block under something positive.”montrose-street-3

Together, we planted beautiful ornamental cherries and Shantung maple trees that will grow along with the children and families of Montrose Street. The trees are being enjoyed today and will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Please make a contribution to the NJ Tree Foundation so we may continue to reforest New Jersey cities and replace what has been lost in devastating storms. Your support is greatly appreciated by the NJ Tree Foundation and New Jersey residents like those of Montrose Street, who truly adore their new trees.donate-button-jpeg

Thank you,

Elena, Renaissance Trees Program Director

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Yvonne and two of her neighbors with one of the 29 new trees.

Local CrossFit Gyms Support Tree Planting

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The NJ Tree Foundation is proud to announce that Crossfit Aspire and CrossFit DT1, two gyms located in Cherry Hill, have collectively raised over $1,000 to benefit the NJ Tree Foundation’s Urban Airshed Reforestation Program. This program, focused heavily on the city of Camden, plants trees to improve the environment and quality of life in inner-city neighborhoods. Pictured above are coaches Justin, Alycia, Matt, and Sharon, on the bikes used to raise money for trees during the July Charity Challenge.

“CrossFit is an amazing sport,” says Jessica Franzini, who works for the NJ Tree Foundation and does CrossFit. “These gyms care about their members – and not just about their fitness, health, and nutrition, but also about the charities that matter to them.” Aspire and DT1’s generous donation will be used to support street tree and fruit tree plantings in Camden this year, bringing clean air and healthy food to the urban communities that need it most.

Interested in CrossFit? Visit CrossFit Aspire or CrossFit DT1 online or try a FREE class at gym at one of their Cherry Hill locations. This sport is good for people of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

photo-42 copyA tree-lined street in North Camden

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Trees Thriving with Good Maintenance

“It’s amazing that you’re out here doing this work,” explained Egypt, a Camden resident, as the NJ Tree Foundation pruned dead-wood from her street tree. “The work is so good for our neighborhood. It makes the trees healthier and reminds the community how important tree care is. We all need to do our part.”

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This summer, the NJ Tree Foundation will do tree pit maintenance and dead-wood pruning on hundreds of street trees in North Camden, thanks to a partnership with Camden Lutheran Housing and a generous Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit grant.

To make this work possible, the NJ Tree Foundation added a new summer staff member  – Camden resident Michael Taylor, a graduate of the Camden PowerCorps program. “It’s exciting to hire from the PowerCorps work force. Mike is awesome, and he will be a great addition to our team,” says Jessica Franzini, Senior Program Director of the NJ Tree Foundation.

“Tree care may not be “sexy,” but it’s essential,” explains Lisa Simms, Executive Director of the NJ Tree Foundation. “It’s an integral part of good urban forest management.”

Want to hire the NJ Tree Foundation to work in your town? Please contact Lisa at lsimms@njtreefoundation.org.

Camden Tree Wins Regional Photo Contest

The NJ Tree Foundation is proud to congratulate Camden resident Sheila Roberts and her tree of hope for winning this year’s regional Plant One Million photo contest! Competing with entries from 13 counties and 3 states (NJ, PA, and DE), Sheila submitted a photo and essay describing a tree that she and the NJ Tree Foundation planted five years ago as part of the Urban Airshed Reforestation Program.

Sheila wrote, “The willow tree is a symbol of hope for tomorrow. The garden represents a space full of spirituality and dreaming. Peace and relaxation; a silent place to sit while contemplating and relaxing and a place where neighbors come to pray and meditate; to get away from the dangerous streets in the urban ghetto of Camden. The willow tree represents new life for the community, throughout development and change. This tree marks the awakening of Camden in the midst of an urban tree canopy we long awaited in a neighborhood with the potential to be greater than anyone ever expected. Our community members fight poverty every day, yet the willow tree remains a peaceful place in our community, helping our residents to see the importance of our urban canopy.”

 

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Sheila Roberts joined by her family and neighbors

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 LSimms@NJTreeFoundation.org

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 LSimms@njtreefoundation.org

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

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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.

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