Central Vancouver grew a little greener on Saturday, as volunteers with Friends of Trees spent the morning planting more than 75 trees in yards across the area.
Tree-lovers sipped coffee and ate bagels before loading oaks, firs, cedars, ginkgos, figs, dogwoods, maples, and a variety of other trees and shrubs onto pickup trucks at Evergreen Bible Church for distribution to customers.
The Vancouver event was one of four in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday. Events were also held in Beaverton, Salem and Bethany, Ore.
Friends of Trees communications manager Colin May said the organization has been very busy.
“Our planting season is October through April,” May said. “Outside of the holidays, we go every weekend. … We’ve got a lot of eager volunteers and certainly a lot of people who want trees.”
Ten groups were assigned to different neighborhoods in the area. Each was responsible for multiple trees.
Some of the people wanting trees also volunteered to help plant them. Bradley and Sunny Wonder — along with their children Coraline, 8, and Mazlo, 6 — helped put several trees in the ground before planting a Lattarula fig and a strawberry tree in their own yard. Sunny Wonder said this was their fourth time volunteering with Friends of Trees over the last several years.
The parking lot of Evergreen Bible Church was nearly full when neighborhood tree specialist Christine Smith called for a briefing with group leaders. Volunteers shared last-minute tips for tricky trees and reminded everyone of the event’s COVID precautions — masks, distancing, sanitizer — before disbanding and continuing preparations.
Laura Deal, of Vancouver, helped Sam Erman, corporate and business relations specialist with Friends of Trees, load a bright-red pickup truck with nine trees and a stack of shovels, rakes and stakes.
Deal said it was her second time volunteering.
“I’ve been working on environmental and climate-change issues for the last six years,” she said. “I did a lot of policy work, research and communications, but it was time to get my hands dirty and actually put some trees in the ground.”
Erman said that like Deal, he spent time doing advocacy work around climate change before deciding to start planting trees.
“This was my intro to a career in tree planting,” he said. “I work in development now, but I was a contractor for a long time. Friends of Trees was the bridge into the tree-planting world for me.”
One of the partners for Saturday’s planting event was the Portland Timbers and their “Score a Goal, Plant a Tree” program. Thanks to the partnership, each tree planted got a Timbers tag on a piece of support twine that had facts about a goal scored in the 2021 season.
After trucks were loaded, all the volunteers were called together for final instructions and a sendoff from staff and local elected officials.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle told the crowd she and her husband started planting trees in Vancouver 30 years ago and that it was delightful to see such enthusiasm for trees.
“Our goal this year is to put 1,500 trees in the ground,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “That’s why we’re ‘Tree City, USA’ for over 25 years.”
Ian Bonham, Friends of Trees neighborhood trees senior specialist, said the organization has planted almost a million trees and shrubs in the Pacific Northwest since its founding in 1989.
“Without all of you, we’re just a pile of trees in a parking lot,” Bonham told the volunteers.