Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hundreds of Trees To Be Planted In Red Hook This Weekend

At this point, there’s a lot of talk about what everyone should be cutting back on or eliminating from their lives to reduce their impact on the environment. But there’s at least one thing we always need more of: trees.
It’s estimated that one mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings (coloradotrees.org).
Trees are not only good for reducing carbon emissions, they also provide shade to buildings. This reduces the need for air conditioning in the summer, curbing energy consumption.
Sounds good, right? But how do you plant trees if you don’t have a yard? Or, if you have a yard, where should you go to get trees? MillionTreesNYC has the answers for you.
An initiative started by Mayor Bloomberg as part of his PlaNYC program, with the New York Parks Department and the New York Restoration Project, MillionTreesNYC has an ambitious (if not obvious) goal: to plant one million trees in New York City in the next decade.
Drew Becher, executive director of the New York Restoration Project — which was founded in 1995 by Bette Midler — said that Midler proposed the MillionTrees idea to Mayor Bloomberg in the fall of 2006 to increase the tree canopy of the city.
So far, more than 200,000 trees have been planted in the city since MillionTrees was first implemented. And this weekend, Brooklynites have an opportunity to participate in a public tree planting — American Express “Make a Difference” Community Volunteer Day — at Red Hook Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., community members who have signed up as individuals or in groups will work toward planting the 300 trees procured from tree farms within a 180-mile radius of the city, said Becher. “Anyone can do it, it’s open to the public,” he noted, saying that many volunteers bring their children to help out.
Working in groups of three to five, volunteers first dig holes for the trees. “You can dig up a lot of interesting stuff,” Becher said. They plant and water the trees, then clean up the trash in the surrounding area. “At the end, the space looks really nice.
“It’s a great community thing,” Becher continued, noting that volunteers who don’t know each other often work together to plant the same tree.
“All of our public tree plantings have been incredible,” Becher said. “It’s a great day, doing something great for the environment.”
To get involved in this Saturday’s tree planting — or any other upcoming plantings, Becher said there will be about 10 this spring — visit www.milliontreesnyc.org.
Plant Your Own
Can’t make it to a public tree planting? MillionTrees has another option for you. Its Tree Coupon Program was launched in April and continues through spring planting season.
Anyone interested can log on to the MillionTrees web site and download a coupon (or just click here) for 20 dollars off the purchase of a tree — a one-inch caliper or larger — at participating nurseries throughout the city.
The five participating nurseries in Brooklyn are the Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook at 444 Van Brunt St.; Dragonetti Brothers at 1875 Ralph Ave.; the Gowanus Nursery at 45 Summit St.; Kings County Nurseries at 625 New York Ave. and Liberty Sunset Garden at 204-207 Dyke St.
“If you’re going to plant a tree anyway, why not get 20 bucks off?” asked Becher, who said that everyone who does plant a tree should visit the MillionTrees web site to register it and count it in the city’s goal of one million trees.
“If you plant a tree and then go see it 10 years later, it’s humbling,” Becher said. “Especially in these times, giving back to your community is a good thing.”

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