Tag Archives: Worcester Tree Initiative

From the Worcester Tree Initiative


Dodge Park Cleanup!

Join us on Wednesday, Sept 9, at Dodge Park on Randolph Road, in the Burncoat neighborhood!

5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.

We provide the rakes, bags, etc. You provide the people power!

Be there, tree lovers!



(you can learn so much American history – and Worcester history! – at the magnificent Worcester Historical Museum, located at 30 Elm St. One of the many history books they sell … pic: R.T.)

Free 2015 Citizenship Classes!

Are you ready and eligible to become a U.S. Citizen?

Starting September 24, Catholic Charities is providing citizenship classes at 10 Hammond St.

Thursdays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm or Fridays from 9:00 – 11:00 am.

Ongoing registration through November.

For more information please call Maddy Hennessy at 508 860 2261 or email  mhennessy@ccworc.org.

FREE trees!

Oak Leaves After Rain copyOak leaves after rain

By Ruth Seward

The Worcester Tree Initiative has a new project that will get free trees to people in Quinsigamond Village and Main South.  In partnership with the Blackstone Headwater’s Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency  and the City of Worcester, we will be planting trees in the Main South and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods to help reduce flooding problems in those areas and to restore our waterways and the Blackstone River to  healthier conditions. Both Quinsigamond Village and Main South will receive 50 public or private trees.  These trees will be given away to residents to be planted at their homes, planted in front of businesses with space or planted in other public places in the community that might benefit from having new trees.

If you are interested in a tree please contact the Worcester Tree Initiative by emailing us at staff@treeworcester.org or leaving a message on our office phone @508-752-1980.

Worcester Tree Initiative has taken on several new projects this spring that have benefitted the residents of Worcester.  The first was our seven week long Worcester Boys and Girls Club educational program where we taught youth principles of stewardship, leadership, and advocacy in the urban forest thanks to a grant provided by the Alliance for Community Trees. The second was the Arbor Day Celebration at Green Hill Park where we partnered with the American Chestnut Foundation, the City of Worcester, the Green Hill Park Coalition, and the Worcester Garden Club to plant 15 blight resistant American Chestnut trees.  We have also planted another community orchard at Ascentria’s New Lands Farm where many Worcester refugee families farm their own food.  These projects along with the newest project in Quinsigamond Village and Main South, help keep a healthy urban forest in and around Worcester.

Trees are important in both a forest and a city.  They give off oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide in our air.  Studies show that urban areas with more trees have lower crime rates and better health.   More trees in a city mean increased property values, increased health benefits, decreased air pollution and decreased energy usage.   People linger by stores and restaurants that are surrounded by trees so business increases in establishments on tree lined streets.   Residents go outside more when more trees are part of the landscape.  Trees are a low maintenance alternative, once they have been established. They also reduce storm water runoff, or rain water that does not soak into the ground.

Storm water runoff is a big problem in cities because we have so many impermeable surfaces like rooftops, roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. Water can’t soak through these surfaces so it runs off somewhere else sometimes causing floods.  Streets close as they become waterlogged and impossible to drive through.   Basements can fill with water when there’s a crack in the foundation. Because of the massive amounts of impervious surfaces the urban environment can be overloaded by water of large storms and we get left with a big mess.

Besides creating flooding conditions, stormwater runoff carries with it pollutants and road debris as it travels to city drains.   Pollutants like excess fertilizers and pesticides, pet waste, bacteria, grease and oil, and heavy metals from brakes and rusts infiltrate our water treatment system or in some cases, drain directly into our natural waterways.   Over time such pollution accumulates and becomes a major problem for anything that lives in, drinks, or swims in that water.

All of the water in Worcester eventually finds its way to the Blackstone River, the head of which sits in Quinsigamond Village. Pollution of Worcester’s waterways has been a major contributor to pollution of the Blackstone River since before the Industrial Revolution. That pollution, along with contributions from every other smaller watershed along the way, has led to the devastation of Narragansett Bay.

More and more, urban planners and urban engineers throughout the United States are looking to set the urban equation straight by utilizing green infrastructure wherever they can. Parking lots no longer need to be impenetrable solid roads where pools of water and ice create hazards for pedestrians and drivers.  Instead they can include drainage options and vegetation components to eliminate surface pooling. City landscapes can include plants and trees, which enhance the beauty of the city while creating places for storm water to go thereby reducing  flooding in our streets and pollution in our waterways.

Trees are a big part of storm water interception. They absorb gallons of water through their roots systems.  Tree canopies capture and store rainfall then release water into the atmosphere, preventing it from becoming waste water.  Tree roots and leaf litter also create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil. The closer we can get to imitating nature in the city, by reducing impermeable surfaces and letting water soak into the ground, the cleaner and healthier our waterways will be. In fact, some of the cleanest water in the world comes from the Quabbin Reservoir, which is the water supply for Boston. The water that the trees and soil naturally filter goes into the Quabbin and when it gets to Boston it needs little filtering before it goes to people’s sinks!

A great way to get trees into the city landscape is to plant them in people’s yards.  Even small yards can be good places for small trees. Trees thrive when planted in areas where they have room for their roots to grow and where they are treated with care.

The Worcester Tree Initiative in partnership with the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Worcester, is looking for 100 tree planting sites in  Main South and the Quinsigamond Village throughout the spring and fall.  We are looking for 50 spots where people want city trees planted in their front yard or in the grass strip along the sidewalk and 50 spots where people would like to plant a tree somewhere else in their yard.  So far – close to 50 locations have been identified and we are eager to finish our project by mid June.  Please contact the Worcester Tree Initiative by email: staff@treeworcester.org or by phone: 508-752-1800.  We are happy to get trees into your neighborhood!

This project has been made possible through the partnership of the City of Worcester, Worcester Tree Initiative and the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition and has been funded through a Healthy Communities grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The purpose of the project is to plant trees to make the Blackstone River healthier and to reduce flooding after storms in Worcester.

From the Worcester Tree Initiative

Summer Staff Taking on Big Projects!

Thanks to funding from Massport we’ve been lucky to bring in great summer interns and summer Young Adult Forestry youth.  They have a big impact on the work we do.

In the past we have had interns skilled in mapping, office management, database creation, design and research. And we always have a great project for our interns to work on. Some help with giveaways, some help create presentations, others have helped with our media. Last year if you were a tree recipient, you may remember getting an email or phone call asking you to tell us how your trees were doing. That information helps us to understand the progress we’ve made.

This summer we’re bringing on four interns to help us with some ambitious projects. Amanda LaFrance is an intern coming to us from Westfield State University. She will be leading our Street Tree Inventory project in the Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods. We are specifically looking at trees planted along the street. We’re looking at both the trees planted in the past six years and also the older trees which remain as a legacy in some areas.

Amanda will be accompanied by two returning interns, Patrick Shea, who will be attending Yale University in the fall, and Jackson Fulk-Logon who attends Tufts University. Jackson and Patrick will help Amanda collect data some days, but they will also be helping us with other projects. One of these projects: inspecting the sidewalks to be resurfaced and checking for potential conflicts with existing trees.

 Our fourth intern is Gilbert M. , a South High School student who is returning to us for another summer. He’s on the Young Adult Foresters team. As you know, the Young Adult Foresters are a team dedicated to the care of newly planted trees around the city.

Worcester’s Forestry Dept. has planted several hundred trees in Worcester each year for the past six years. The young Adult Foresters have worked hard to ensure that each tree has a chance to thrive.

We’re excited about bringing each of these young men and women on to be part of our new team, and we owe our gratitude to Massport which has supported the program since the inception of the Young Adult Foresters five years ago.

The American Chestnut tree returns to Worcester!

By Ruth Seward, Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative

The American Chestnut tree was a dominant tree species in the forests of eastern America.  People depended on this fast-growing tree for its wood which is light-weight, easy to work with, and rot resistant, making it ideal for any projects, including building homes and barns, fences, furniture and even musical instruments. The nut was also a central part of American life as a feed for livestock and a crucial food source for wildlife.  The chestnut was also a reliable source of nutrition for families throughout the United States, and it was common for people to forage the nuts and utilize them in daily recipes or sell them for extra income.

chestnutat ghpPlanting a baby chestnut tree in Green Hill Park! Yay!!!

However, in the early 1900’s a fungal blight accidentally introduced from Asia began to kill the American Chestnut.  The trees in our North American Forests had no resistance to this newly introduced organism.  Working its way through the forests this fungal disease killed every Chestnut tree in its way. By 1950 virtually all of the American Chestnut Trees had vanished from the American landscape with the exception of a few scattered trees located mostly in Virginia.

This tragic loss spurred some early, unsuccessful efforts to find resistant varieties of American Chestnuts and to breed them. However, no hope was found among the surviving trees. In 1985 The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) was created as a way to organize the reintroduction of a blight resistant chestnut tree.  By cross-breeding the Chinese Chestnut Tree and the American Chestnut Tree TACF has successfully developed hybrid species which are resistant to the blight.

chestnuttreeThis little guy is safe and secure!

By continuing to breed these resistant varieties with true American Chestnuts TACF now has a hybrid which is genetically 93% American Chestnut. And the nut of these trees looks and tastes like the original! By planting these saplings in the native habitat of historic American Chestnut trees eventually a new forest will emerge and the important lumber and food crop will be restored.

On Friday, May 1, 2015, the Worcester Tree Initiative, in partnership with the City of Worcester, Green Hill Park Coalition, Worcester Technical High School, the Worcester Garden Club, and the American Chestnut Foundation celebrated Arbor Day by planting 15 American Chestnut Trees in Green Hill Park on Skyline Drive.

This is an incredible milestone in bringing back this iconic American tree! Worcester is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift. In particular this gift is significant in the face of the loss of city trees to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in the wooded areas adjacent to Green Hill park. These trees are symbols of the resilience of trees and forests. The trees, which grow very quickly, will soon be casting shade and producing their spiny, shelled fruits.

We look forward to watching them thrive in Green Hill park and eventually finding saplings sprouting in the forest!

Worcester news you can use!

Free Trees and Less Stormwater
Community Meeting

Tomorrow! Wednesday, May 6


Quinsigamond Village Community Center

16 Greenwood St.

As part of our campaign to plant 100 trees in Quinsigamond Village and Main South neighborhoods of Worcester, Worcester Tree Initiative and the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition will be holding an informational meeting at the Quinsigamond Village Community center.

During the meeting we will be discussing the important roles that trees have to play in our environment, particularly when it comes to issues of water pollution and flooding.

We also want to know if you want to plant a tree in your yard along your street. We are giving the trees away for free!

The meeting is open to the public but the trees are only available to residents of Quinsigamond Village and Main South.

Whether you want a free tree or just want to learn we hope you will join us. Refreshments will be served.

Cancer Survivors and Caregivers to be Honored at
Relay For Life of Worcester

Local cancer survivors and their caregivers will take the celebratory first lap at the annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Worcester event on June 19 at Burncoat High School.

The Survivors Lap will start at 6:30 p.m., and anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer may participate.

As the survivors walk, other event participants will cheer them on in a demonstration of support and celebration.

The five-year survival rate for all cancers has risen to 68 percent, and there are an estimated 14 million Americans alive today who have been diagnosed with the disease.

The Relay For Life program is a community event where teams and individuals set up campsites at a school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path.

Each team has at least one participant on the track at all times. Four million people participated in more than 6,000 events worldwide last year. The money raised supports groundbreaking cancer research, education and prevention programs, and critical services for people facing cancer.

If you are a cancer survivor or caregiver and would like to take part in the Relay For Life of Worcester event, visit www.relayforlife.org/worcesterma



Congressman Jim McGovern introduced yesterday H.R. 2204, the Safe Communities Act, a bill that would give states and local communities the ability to regulate liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) rail transload facilities that are operated by a rail carrier.

“Communities ought to have a say in whether or not a hazardous LPG facility is sited in their backyard,” said Rep. McGovern.  “I am deeply troubled that no other federal, state, or local agency, besides the Surface Transportation Board (STB), has jurisdiction over a project that could potentially threaten the health and safety of hundreds of people, including hundreds of children.”

The filing of the bill comes in response to plans by the Grafton-Upton Railroad to build a 320,000 LPG storage and transloading facility in the Town of Grafton and the subsequent STB decision to pre-empt state and local zoning and environmental protection laws. If allowed to stand, the STB decision would pave the way for the construction of an LPG facility in a residential zone within Grafton’s water supply protection district.

“This issue is not new to Congress,” said Rep. McGovern. “The Safe Communities Act of 2015 is similar to a provision included in a bipartisan 2008 passenger rail bill that addressed health and safety concerns at railroad-owned and operated solid waste transfer facilities.”

The introduction of this bill follows Rep. McGovern’s filing of an amicus curiae brief in support of Grafton that he committed to at a January community meeting held in the town and moderated by State Senator Michael Moore.

On April 8, 2015, the United States District Court for the First Circuit (First Circuit) accepted the amicus curiae (or “friend of the court”) brief submitted by Rep. McGovern in March 2015 refuting the STB’s interpretation of federal law and congressional intent.  The accepted brief is in support of Grafton and its Board of Selectmen’s appeal of the STB’s January decision in favor of the Grafton and Upton Railroad.

Grafton appealed the STB decision to the First Circuit in October.  Grafton hopes to halt construction of the largest propane facility in the Commonwealth because of its close proximity to homes, a K-2 elementary school, a branch of the public library and a little league field.

FREE trees from the Worcester Tree Initiative

Stormwater Trees in the Quinsigamond Village and Main South neighborhoods

In the spring of 2015 the Worcester Tree Initiative, in conjunction with the City of Worcester and the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition, will plant 100 new trees in the Quinsigamond Village and Main South neighborhoods.

The goal is to reduce stormwater runoff using green infastruacture.

If you live in these areas and would like a Street Tree in front of your property or a tree for your yard, please contact Derek or Ruth at the Worcester Tree Initiative: staff@treeworcester.org

From the Worcester Tree Initiative …

Fruit Tree Guards: Keep rodents and deer away!

Even in Worcester rodents and deer can destroy fruit trees.  Fruit tree wood is a tasty treat in the middle of winter.  If your trees are planted close to a wooded area, you may want to install tree guards like the ones used on the top of Newton Hill. To make: Simply cut plastic pipes and wire them closed to prevent girdling of trees.


Worcester Fun Fact

….”According to one map of Worcester in 1776, a huge, old elm grew at the corner of today’s Main and Pleasant Streets – a tree so respected it was left standing as the town developed roads around it; hence, the reason, though the elm is long gone, why Pleasant is slightly offset from Front Street.” – Evelyn Herwitz




Saturday, Jan 24

11:30 am – 1:30 pm in the Saxe Room at the Worcester Public Library, Salem Square


Wednesday, January 21

8 am – 9 am at Ameripride Corporation at 280 Greenwood St.


Saturday, March 14

10:30 am at 27 Oread Place

From the Worcester Tree Initiative and REC

Adopt a Tree!

The City of Worcester wants to plant trees for you! They have the Private Property Tree Adoption Program which allows you to request that a tree be planted in your yard.


The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation wants to plant trees in your yard for you! To be eligible you must live in the federally delineated ALB quarantine zone which includes all of Worcester, Boylston, West Boylston, Shrewsbury and parts of Holden and Auburn.

Not sure if you live in the quarantine zone?Call their office at (508) 852-8073 and they will check for you.

Their foresters will come to your house to give you an expert recommendation of what to plant based on what you want!

This is an incredible offer!


Regional Environmental Council (REC)

Growing Community Since 1971

Be a Part of a Global Day of Giving and Support REC for #GivingTuesday!

Dear Members and Supporters of REC,

As we prepare to give thanks for all the good things in our lives and dive into the holiday season, please consider giving back this year with a gift to the REC for Giving Tuesday. We have one day each year set aside to give thanks, followed by two for getting deals. Let’s restore the balance with a day for generosity. Giving Tuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together with a common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Your support of REC this year is an investment in our community that promises record growth in 2015. This spring, your donation will help us:

Grow over 5,000 seedlings for community and school gardens across the city;

Provide affordable and accessible produce across the city through our Mobile and Main South Farmers Markets;

Train and employ 34 young leaders in our YouthGROW program;

And clean our streets through our Annual Earth Day Clean Ups!

But, perhaps more important, is your donation’s long term impact. Seedlings planted this spring will continue to bear fruit throughout next year. The nourishment local produce provides will help a child grow strong and healthy. A young person whose mind has been opened up to ideas of social and environmental justice will go on to become an advocate for change in the world. Residents bonded together over cleaning their shared street will work together to bring resources to their neighborhood.

Plant a seed of change and hope with a gift today and join us as we work to grow a better tomorrow!


Steve Fischer


Order your YouthGrow Thanksgiving pies!

These pies are beautiful, delicious and made with lots of food justice love!

Buy one for Thanksgiving dinner and one to enjoy later on … because they’re that yummy!

Get your Thanksgiving Pie from your favorite food justice organization! 

YOUTHGROW PIES are organic, local apple pies made from scratch!

Pick up or delivery of unbaked apple pies on Monday, November 24.

You bake it fresh for Thanksgiving morning!

All-butter crust or vegan on request for the low price of $20 per pie.

Email youthgrow@recworcester.org to place your order today!

The Blackstone Headwaters Tree Project

EPA Awards $25,000 for Blackstone Headwaters Tree Project  

A Healthy Communities Grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency will go to the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition and partnering organization the Worcester Tree Initiative, for their “Stormwater Benefit of Trees” project.  This project will engage residents of two Worcester neighborhoods to reduce flooding and stormwater impacts to Worcester’s waterways and the Blackstone River.  One hundred trees will be planted, split between the Main South and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods; education and outreach will be provided on the benefits of trees, water quality information, and the impact of stormwater on water quality.

Other project partners include the Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC),  the Quinsigamond Village Community Center (QVCC) and the City of Worcester Department of Public Works and Parks.  

“I’m so pleased that the EPA has recognized this project as a dynamic partnership that will have lasting impacts on environmental justice neighborhoods and on the Blackstone and its headwater tributaries,” said Congressman Jim McGovern.  “Out of 70 submissions, this is one of only 14 community-based projects funded by the grant.  That speaks to the great work being done in Central Massachusetts.”

Following extensive outreach efforts, interested residents will pick from a list of available and recommended trees to plant as either street trees or private trees.  As Worcester is in the Asian Longhorned Beetle quarantine zone, no ALB host species will be included in the available species to be planted list. Recipients of the trees will receive a) one-on-one training on how to plant and care for the tree(s); b) educational  information about how trees help reduce localized flooding and stormwater volume into the storm sewer and thereby help the Blackstone River; c) general information about water quality and the impact of stormwater on water quality; d) an understanding of Worcester’s waterways including the lakes and ponds where they swim, the Blackstone River and its watershed e) benefits that trees bring to an urban neighborhood including shade, reduction of energy costs, stress reduction, reduction of heat island effect; f) other stormwater best management practices such as picking up dog poop, redirecting down spouts, washing vehicles on vegetated areas, etc.

The Blackstone Headwaters Coalition strives to engage citizens, businesses, environmental organizations, and municipal and state officials in the active stewardship of water resources in headwater streams of the Blackstone River.   

From The Worcester Tree Initiative …

Join Congressman Jim McGovern … [and guests] as we celebrate the planting of our 30,000th tree! We are proud to say that we have accomplished that goal!

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), City of Worcester, and other agencies, we’ve met the goal, and 30,000 trees have been planted!!

To thank everyone who has helped us reach this milestone we will have a celebration on Monday, Oct 6,  9:30 am at Burncoat High School (179 Burncoat St.) – located in the heart of the ALB infestation area and the site of our very first Giveaway on April 25 2009.

Refreshments by Culinary Arts students from Worcester Technical High School will be provided.

The event will be accompanied by music from Burncoat High Students’ Quadrivium Chorus and String Ensemble along with a routine from the school’s Color Guard.

There is also a student art exhibit. Information from our local environmental groups will be provided at our tabling area.

The Celebration will be followed by an optional 30-minute bus tour of Reforested Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods, courtesy of WRTA (RSVP required). Please join us as we celebrate this momentous achievement and thank you for your continuous support!