Tag Archives: REC

Barbara Haller and Worcester’s trees

By Peggy Middaugh

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller understands the many values of trees – from shade and beauty to cleaning the air and attracting wildlife – and she especially knows how important they are in District 4. Even though District 4 has been spared from the devastation created in other neighborhoods of the city by the Asian Longhorned Beetle, Barbara was the first City Councilor to show her financial support for the Worcester Tree Initiative and actively encouraged us to plant trees her district.

With her usual style of collaboration and moving things ahead, she contacted me soon after the Worcester Tree Initiative was established in 2009 with a mission: how and where do we get trees planted in District 4? With small yards and narrow sidewalks, are there any spaces left to plant them? So with a “tree focus”, she picked me up in her car and we drove around the district, looking for planting sites. And I must say we were surprised – there were lots of possible places for planting trees!

Next she met with the City Forester, Brian Breveleri to ask for his support to plant street trees in District 4. Most of the City’s replanting efforts at this point were focused in the northern part of the city, where thousands of trees had been cut down as the result of the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. But with the backing of City Councilor Haller, Brian was happy to put some resources into this neighborhood. As a result of her persistence and cooperative approach with the city, 250 street trees were planted in the Webster Square area of District 4 in the spring of 2011. Walk down Hitchcock, or Tirrell, or Stoneland streets and you can see the difference it’s made. Mill, Main, and Lucian streets have all been beneficiaries of the District 4 spring street tree planting.

And it’s not over: we’ve just been told that up to another 40 street trees will be planted along Main Street before the end of the season. That’s how collaboration works. And that’s how Barbara Haller makes things happen.

And then there are Beech Trees. They happen to be Barbara’s favorite, and an iconic tree in Worcester’s inner city neighborhoods. Big, beautiful, stately trees, they bring character and charm. In the fall of 2009 UMass Memorial Health Care, the owner of property leased by Family Health Center on Queen Street, had finalized plans to develop a parking lot on an open green space at the corner of Jaques and King Streets. A physician who worked at the Family Health Center brought to our attention that a magnificent healthy beech tree was located on the development site would be cut down to accommodate parking. It was late in the project process, and it wasn’t clear that anything could be done to stop the demise of the tree.

Enter Councilor Haller who loves Beech trees. Because of her existing positive working relationship with UMass Memorial President & CEO John O’Brien, she offered to contact him and advocate for saving the tree. President O’Brien responded positively. The development plans were redesigned around the tree. The parking lot was built and the Beech tree still stands, magnificent as ever.

My experience of working with Barbara is not only that she “gets it” with respect to the importance of trees in the community, but also that she’s built trust, credibility and respect with her colleagues, leaders, and residents of the neighborhoods in District 4 and that those characteristics make her a very effective Councilor for moving District 4 ahead – together!

Thank you, Barbara, for being a true tree hugger!

Peggy Middaugh is the former executive director of the Regional Environmental Council and is now spearheading The Worcester Tree Initiative.

REC’s 3rd Annual Plant Sale tomorrow, Sat., May 21!

11 AM – 3 PM at Oreanic Farm, 63 Oread Street, Worcester

Join the Food Justice Program for their annual Plant Sale Fundraiser, providing 100% organic seed and soil- grown seedlings selected to thrive under local conditions.

These Worcester grown seedlings offer the opportunity to support a thriving community organization, while fulfilling your plant and seed needs. Check out how well these varieties are performing at the Oreanic Farm! Proceeds support REC’s Food Justice Program.

Tomato, pepper, eggplant and broccoli seedlings are $3 each, greens (kale, collards, cabbage) are $2 per seedling. REC and Community Garden members get a $1 off per seedling discount! Seedlings purchased with SNAP benefits (food stamps) are half price.

Regional Environmental Council (REC) is celebrating its 22nd Annual Earth Day Cleanup events

WHAT:   Press Event & REC Earth Day Cleanups Proclamation w/ Mayor Joe O’Brien

WHERE: Worcester City Hall, Levi-Lincoln Room, 3rd Floor

WHEN: Tuesday, April 26, 1:30pm

WHAT:   22nd Annual REC Earth Day Cleanups    

WHERE: 65 sites throughout the city of Worcester

WHEN: Saturday, April 30th, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Worcester – This year marks the 22nd Annual REC Earth Day Cleanups, to be held on Saturday, April 30, from 8:00am to noon at 65 locations throughout Worcester. More than 500 volunteers will clean our sidewalks, parks and neighborhoods.

Since REC began coordinating the event in 1989, Earth Day Cleanups have become an annual event that involves hundreds of neighbors and friends joining together to give our city a good spring cleaning.

Last year, 30 tons of trash was collected and removed from our streets. Sites are added each year when concerned individuals volunteer to coordinate a cleanup team in their neighborhood or in any area of the city that needs attention.

Please join us at City Hall on Tuesday, April 26 at 1:30pm as Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien helps us continue our Earth Day Celebrations by commending these volunteers working together to make a healthy, sustainable and beautiful Worcester!

The cleanups are organized by the REC in partnership with the City of Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks, National Grid, Superior Waste & Recycling and with the support of numerous other local businesses, community organizations, neighbors, youth and area agencies who come together to care for and ensure our neighborhoods are clean and safe.

REC brings fresh, affordable produce to Main South and Great Brook Valley! (or: Two great Farmers’ Markets in our inner city!)

By Hannah Payne

The Regional Environmental Council is an environmental justice organization working in Worcester since 1971. This year we are excited to launch a second farmer’s market location as part of our Food Justice Program. The first market has been running since 2008 and is located in the parking lot of the YMCA (766 Main St.) and runs from 10 am – 2 pm every Saturday. The new market is located in Great Brook Valley at the Great Brook Valley Health Center (19 Tacoma St.) and runs from 9 am – 1 pm on Saturdays. This is the first year for the Great Brook Valley market, which had its grand opening June 19. The REC hopes to spread the success of the Main South market to Great Brook Valley. Through the farmer’s markets the REC aims to provide fresh and local produce and food at affordable prices to the Main South and Great Brook Valley communities. With this mission in mind the farmer’s markets accept WIC and senior coupons as well as SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

One of the best things about the REC’s farmer’s markets is that you don’t need cash to shop at the market, credit, debit and EBT cards are all accepted in addition to cash and WIC and senior coupons. One of the most exciting elements is that if you make purchases with your SNAP (food stamp) card all purchases are half price! Local, organic produce is typically expensive in grocery stores but at these farmer’s markets it is accessible to all, thanks to the already reasonable prices and the SNAP deal. Continue reading REC brings fresh, affordable produce to Main South and Great Brook Valley! (or: Two great Farmers’ Markets in our inner city!)

Some great Worcester events to enjoy this spring!

editor’s note: Check out “The Big Read” at the Worcester Public Library and REC’s cool spring programs – some for Earth Day – others just for any day!

Worcester joins the “The Big Read”

By Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo

A great event will take place at the Worcester Public Library during the month of April and it merits the support of everyone in our community. It’s a kind of national month-long celebration of reading called “The Big Read.”

The Big Read is an initiative of the N.E.A. (National Endowment for the Arts) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big Read’s aim is to address this issue by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and to discuss a single book within their communities
Worcester is one of 400 communities participating in the Big Read and Umass Memorial Health is the lead organization for it in this area. They have partnered with the Worcester Public Library and with Worcester: The City that Reads. This year the book picked by local youth groups in Worcester is the works of the nineteenth century gothic writer, Edgar Allan Poe.

Throughout April, Worcester will be reading the short stories and poems of the master of the macabre. We are encouraging schools in the Worcester County area to participate Continue reading Some great Worcester events to enjoy this spring!

An educational garden for everyone: the WE Garden!

By Josie Shagwert

Today, access to and knowledge about good, healthy food is essential. We live in a day and age where world hunger rates are increasing, obesity is a national epidemic, meals mainly consist of cheaply manufactured ingredients, meat and vegetables are chemically produced, and the traditional method of growing food has become the expensive alternative. We must take back our right to good, healthy food that nourishes our body rather than poisons it. The Worcester Educational (WE) Garden is a simple step in the right direction.

Aside from acting as a traditional community garden, the WE garden is a place where community members can check out creative urban gardening ideas that they can then use to grow fresh produce at home. Continue reading An educational garden for everyone: the WE Garden!