Tag Archives: Worcester Tree Initiative

In Piedmont and Elm Park neighborhoods! Two new community orchards for Worcester!

By Derek Lirange, Assistant Program Coordinator, Worcester Tree Initiative

EAT Center Orchard and Gardens on Jacques Ave

The first was planted on Jaques Ave on May 27th and the whole affair was a huge success! Several groups collaborated in support of the orchard. TD Green Streets gave a grant which funded the fence built around the open lot to protect the trees from vandalism and ultimately to allow for a full harvest by the farmers tending the lot. The grant also paid for the trees that were planted and a translator who will work with the farmers. Worcester Common Ground purchased the lot at 7 Jaques from the City of Worcester, which abutted a lot they already owned, 9 Jaques. The whole site is being designated as an EAT Center site by the partners who collaboratively manage the EAT Center Initiative: Worcester Common Ground, Lutheran Social Services and the Regional Environmental Council. The orchard and future gardens will be tended by two families from Bhutan who come to the project from Lutheran Social Services’ New Lands Farm.

The day couldn’t have been better; despite dire weather forecasts the rain held off for the most part and gave us wonderful conditions to plant in. The volunteers from TD Bank and our friends, Buddha and Ganesh, refugees from Bhutan who will ultimately be tending the lot with their families, arrived early to get the planting started with WTI staff. We were able to plant all 19 trees (a variety of apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries) before 2:30 PM, when our guest speakers arrived.

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured speakers Congressman James P. McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, City Manager Ed Augustus, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Tim Murray, TD Bank Senior Vice President Rob Babcock, Worcester Tree Initiative’s own Mary Knittle, Worcester Common Ground’s Yvette Dyson, and New Lands Farm’s Ashley Carter. It was noted that this site is another landmark in Worcester’s progress toward integrating agriculture into its landscape. This is not the only place one will find fruit in Worcester but it is among the first orchards of its kind.

Besides the trees, one of the most joyous sites of the day was at the end of the ceremony, as students from Chandler Elementary School across the street were released from school and shared cupcakes with us. The kids were so excited to see the new space and eat some sweets. Thanks to Worcester Common Ground’s donation of the cupcakes, every face left with frosting around their mouths, the first of many sweet treats that will come from this wonderful grove.

Edward Winslow Lincoln Memorial Grove on Newton Hill

The second orchard planted was at the top of Newton Hill on June 5th. The orchard was planted for the benefit of the community and as a memorial to Edward Winslow Lincoln, a longstanding Commissioner of Parks in Worcester who tirelessly worked to better Elm Park and Newton Hill in his 30 year tenure. The memorial grove was conceived by Rick Miller and the Friends of Newton Hill with the assistance of Worcester Tree Initiative. Worcester Tree Initiative staff and Doherty High School Environmental Science students and teachers planted the trees in the rain and not one complaint was heard from anyone! We planted apple, pear, plum, peach, and cherry trees around the perimeter of the open space at the top of the hill and have two more to plant in the fall. The trees were provided by the Worcester Tree Initiative and will be maintained by the Friends of Newton Hill led by Rick Miller, and by Doherty High students supervised by their teacher, Stacie Hill.

The Friends of Newton Hill and Worcester Tree Initiative would like to extend their thanks once again on this occasion to Congressman James P McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, State Representative John Mahoney, City Manager Ed Augustus, Asst. Commissioner Rob Antonelli, and our own Co-Chair Mary Knittle for speaking at the memorial ceremony at Doherty High School in celebration of this community orchard. Their tone was set by an introductory history of Newton Hill given by Brittany Legasey and a gracious welcome from Rick Miller who personally introduced each speaker as a friend.

The fruit on Newton Hill will be available for harvest by anyone who comes to the park so be sure to make the walk up for a visit!

In Main South! The Worcester Tree Initiative class on revitalizing neglected trees!

Are you interested in learning about growing your own fruit?

Head Horticulturist at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, Joann Vieira will be giving a training in Main South at 9 Oread Place on fruit tree management.

She will talk about the various problems you need to be careful of when caring for fruit trees and what to do when you see them. She will also talk about and demonstrate the pruning of trees that have been left to grow for a few years and need to be brought back to a manageable size and productive form.

The training will be held on Wednesday August 6th from 11-Noon and will be free to all attendees.


Volunteering In Dodge Park

Have you ever been to Dodge Park on Randolph Road? This large park offers a diverse landscape in its 13 acres. There are beautiful views of wildflowers and wetland habitats. Much of the landscape is undergoing the early stages of natural succession for a forest habitat because the park was found to be infested with Asian Longhorned Beetle and most of the trees in the 13 acres were removed. As part of the reforestation effort an arboretum dedicated to the trees which are not hosts to Asian Longhorned Beetle was planted in the area adjacent to the Dodge Park Rest Home. There is also a large swath of oak and cherry forest in the middle of the park as well as an area for picnics and field games. There are trails throughout the park to take you through this diverse landscape; it’s a great place to get an education about the forest or to just escape the city streets for a while.

Worcester Tree Initiative does maintenance projects in Dodge Park and as I’ve been describing, it’s a large park. We are hard pressed to keep up, never mind make headway on any new projects.

That’s why we need you! We have decided to host a monthly work evening in the park the second Wednesday of every month from 5:30-7:30pm.

Tasks will include trail maintenance, trash pick up, large weed removal, and trail construction. We will have some tools and work gloves but it would be helpful if you could bring some tools as well. In particular another wheel barrow would be an excellent addition to the work.

The specific dates will be:

Wednesday, August 13th;

Wednesday, September 10th; and

Wednesday October 8th

We hope we will see you there!


Community FRUIT orchard in Piedmont neighborhood to be planted! Hooray for the Jaques Ave Community Orchard!

Worcester Receives a TD Green Streets Grant to plant Community Orchard in Piedmont Neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 27, at 2:30 PM, Congressman James P. McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, and City Manager Ed Augustus will celebrate the planting of 20 fruit trees at the newly established Community Orchard at 9 Jaques Ave, Worcester. This project is made possible through a generous TD Green Streets grant.

Worcester Tree Initiative staff, volunteers from TD Bank, refugee farmers from Bhutan, and New Lands Farm staff will work together beginning at 10:00 AM to plant several varieties of semi-dwarf fruit trees at the site, including peaches, pears, plums, cherries and apples, thus taking the first step at establishing the newest EAT center in Worcester.

“Every person in this country should have access to locally grown, healthy food,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “I am thrilled to see fruit trees being planted in the Piedmont neighborhood and peach, pear and apple trees added to the already vibrant community gardening program in Worcester.”

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard project is a partnership of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Worcester Common Ground, Lutheran Social Services/New Lands Farm project, and City of Worcester and builds on a model launched in 2011 on Oread Place known as the Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center. The EAT center partnership includes the Regional Environmental Council.

Yvette Dyson, Executive Director of Worcester Common Ground, the property owner notes that “from a partnership perspective we all believe in land preservation and the cultivation of produce for the people we serve in Central MA. Securing these parcels [at 7/9 Jaques Ave] will help to eliminate trash problems, and eventually provide fruit and produce for farmers/neighbors to grow, feed their families and sell”.

The City of Worcester was awarded a TD Green Streets grant in the amount of $19,380 to create the orchard and has contracted with The Worcester Tree Initiative to implement the project. . A large portion of the funds will be used to purchase the trees, fence the lot, and pay for interpreters to work with the Bhutanese farmers who will care for the fruit trees over the long term.

Peggy Middaugh, Executive Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative notes that “we have given away and planted over 5,500 trees in the past 5 years, and lately more and more residents have expressed an interest in growing fruit trees. We’re very excited to expand our urban forestry efforts to include the food producing beneifs of trees”!. The Worcester Tree Initiative will continue to provide support to the refugee farmers for the care of the trees by providing tools, skills building workshops and hiring interpreters.

The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) was launched in January 2009 by Congressman Jim McGovern and Lt. Governor Tim Murray as a positive response to the devastation caused by the infestation and eradication of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). In the past 5 years, over 5,500 trees have been planted and thousands of residents, school children and community members mobilized to become stewards of the urban forest.

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard is the 2nd EAT center in Worcester and the first to include fruit trees.
The Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center was launched in 2011 as a joint partnership of the REC, Lutheran Social Services, Worcester Common Ground and the City of Worcester Mayor’s Office.

A pilot initiative, the EAT Center seeks to utilize undeveloped tax levy parcels in the city of Worcester that are suitable for agriculture by transferring ownership to this partnership for a nominal cost. Community members, including recently arrived refugees with an agricultural background identified by Lutheran Social Services (Worcester’s largest refugee resettlement agency), are provided an opportunity to receive training on urban agriculture and an opportunity to grow produce on a larger scale than is otherwise available via the REC’s community gardens network.

Worcester’s Arbor Day celebration and tree planting at North High School – Friday, May 2!

Friday, May 2, 10 AM

Worcester will be celebrating Arbor Day with a ceremony and tree planting on Friday, May 2nd at North High School.

Beginning at 8 am, students from the Life Skills and AP Environmental classes will help unload the truck, dig holes, and plant trees.

WTI trainers will demonstrate the appropriate techniques for planting a tree and supervise students. Eleven Bald Cypress and ten Black Gum trees will be planted in the 3 parking lot islands.

Speaking Agenda will begin at 10:00AM, followed by a ceremonial tree planting:
10:00 – Welcome – Lisa Dyer, Principal, North High
Speakers include: City Manager Ed Augustus, Senator Harriette Chandler, WTI Co-chair Mary Knittle, Isaiah Sierra (student representative), Frankie Franco (student representative)
10:45 Ceremonial Tree Planting
11:00 – 1:00 Planting demonstrations and tree planting

From the Worcester Tree Initiative

Community Orchards Discussion

Saturday, March 29

12 pm – 2 pm

in the Banx Room of the Worcester Public Library (downtown).

Would you like to see more fruit trees planted in Worcester? Would you like to learn more about caring for fruit trees? Join the discussion on urban community orchards and share your ideas for this developing project.


Community Cleanups

Worcester Tree Initiative is looking for volunteers to help with two park cleanups simultaneously on April 12.

Come help the effort if you can!

The Peace Park: Winslow & Pleasant streets in Worcester. Community members will clear the park and get things ready for spring. 9am – 12 Noon Help needed – just show up at the park!

Dodge Park: Students from the College of the Holy Cross will help weed, mulch trails and pick up garbage from 9 am – 2pm on this day.

Preparing trees for winter

By Derek Lirange, the Worcester Tree Initiative

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the City of Worcester has had thousands of new trees planted in the past four years. You may have even had a tree planted in your yard and if you like your new tree there are some things you ought to know before the winter comes.

New trees need water, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. You may think that if the tree in your yard has been around for a year or even half a year, it’s not new anymore; let me assure you, your tree disagrees. Your tree will still be “new” until it has been there for about 3 years, then it will be well established and should be able to take care of itself. Until that time, it is important to keep watering the trees and not just in the summer. Many believe that just because the leaves have fallen from the trees that they no longer need water; au contraire! As long as the ground isn’t frozen yet the roots will still be active and take up water. While you could water the trees into December in a particularly mild year it may be best to make your last soak at the end of October, barring a freak snowstorm of course. This last soak should really ensure that a lot of water gets to the roots, so if possible the best method short of buying special equipment would be to let your hose run at just a trickle a foot from the base of the tree for a couple of hours. If you are especially ambitious you might also change the location of the hose a few times in those couple of hours to try to get all of the roots soaked.

The next most important thing for a new tree is to give it mulch for the winter. Now most of the trees planted by the city have a good ring of mulch around them but it would even behoove you to add a bit more on top and extend the ring to the sides. A depth of about 3 inches is good and as wide as the branches spread. However make sure that no mulch is touching the bark of the tree, leaving about 3 inches of space between the trunk of the tree and the mulch. If the mulch gets piled up against the bark of the tree (which is a common sight) it can rot the bark and harbor insects which will bore their way into the tree. However applied properly the mulch will pose no threat to the tree and will act like a blanket for the roots and soil, regulating the temperature enough that the soil beneath won’t freeze as soon as the rest. This is important to allow the young roots which have been trying to establish themselves in the soil extra time to go dormant in the event of the cold coming on suddenly.

Some would caution you to worry about frost cracks and sun scald, two potential winter injuries caused by the heating and cooling of the bark typically on trees with a southern exposure. This type of injury can be very serious but while it’s not rare it’s also not especially common. If you want to take precaution against this type of injury it is recommended that you buy a commercial tree wrap and apply it in November but remove it in the early spring before the leaves or flowers start coming out to prevent it from constricting the trees growth. An added benefit of this treatment is that it can help to protect the lower part of the tree against rodent damage in the winter when they can tunnel under the snow and nibble on the bark for a meal. This material is available at garden centers but is really only recommended for new trees with southern exposure.

Some may also recommend staking your tree in winter to stabilize it in winter storms. If your tree isn’t already staked don’t bother to do this, trees typically do not need stakes with the exception of areas which receive high wind regularly. Trees are even less likely to need stakes to protect them from winter winds because they have lost their leaves which allows the wind to pass through them more easily. Even snow loads should not pose too much of a threat with the leaves off. Some people recommend tying up the branches with rope like a loosely bound Christmas tree to add support and prevent injury, but this is not necessary for regular snow. Ice storms do pose a threat and tying up the branches may be valuable as protection against a heavy ice storm.

Another thing some people may advise is to fertilize your trees before they go dormant to give them nutrients for the winter. This is also not necessary and could potentially do more harm than good by causing the tree to try to put out new growth late into the season which then gets hit hard by cold weather and dies. Fertilizer is generally not necessary for trees, though a soil test can confirm if there is a nutrient deficiency and give a recommendation for amendments. There are a number of places which will do such a test for a small fee such as the extension center at UMass Amherst, but for the purpose of winter prep there’s no need to even be thinking about it, just follow the rule of not applying fertilizer.

One major New England problem for trees planted along the sidewalk of the street is salt injury from all of the deicing that we do here. When salt sprays onto the foliage of evergreens and gets into the soil it can cause major injury to the foliage because it draws out a lot of the water from the cells in evergreen foliage and roots of all plants causing them to dry out and potentially die. You will only notice this in grass, shrubs and trees in the spring when they start to grow again, their foliage will be brown and stunted. In this case you need to apply extra water frequently to try to force the salt to sink beyond the roots of your vegetation. Unfortunately since the salt is going to get all over the first few feet of most yards there’s not an effective technique for protecting your tree from this kind of damage, only the recovery treatment.

That about wraps it up for this article. There are several things that homeowners can do to be proactive heading into winter and a few things you either don’t need to do or flat out shouldn’t. With all of this information it should be possible for you to take care of your tree and successfully ensure its health going into the spring. We here at Worcester Tree Initiative wish you luck and we hope your trees thrive in the years to come.

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.

Trees for our inner-city neighborhoods

By Sue Moynagh

On January 29, 2009, two meetings were held at Quinsigamond Community College introducing the Worcester Tree Initiative to area residents.  The goal of this Initiaitive is to plant 30,000 new trees in the city and surrounding towns over a five year period, and is a response to the devastating loss of trees due to the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. Severe ice storms early this winter have also severely damaged trees throughout the city.  The loss of thousands of trees in such a short time, especially in the Greendale and Burncoat neighborhoods where the beetle was discovered, has had a tremendous impact on those who live there, and on all of us who love and appreciate trees. Continue reading Trees for our inner-city neighborhoods