Three Tree Plantings in Two Weekends!

The three tree planting events were all about as different as they could be given that they're the same thing in the same city a week apart. The types of people involved, the groups I worked with, the conditions, locations, all made up very different experiences.

The first tree planting was in a park, right on the river, and the weather conditions were pretty miserable. The ground was completely muddy and saturated from rain the day before, and I kept getting stuck. The wind was strong and almost constant, trees did not get planted straight. We stood around for a long time before getting into things and my fingers hurt so bad once I started handling cold tools and dirt I wasn't sure I was gonna make it. But the organizers had provided "hot hands" and one of the volunteers in my group had a set in her purse that she gave me, and after that I was ok.

The type of people that showed up to the park planting was a very different crowd from the street plantings. For neighborhood plantings you get individuals who sought out the opportunity, people who mostly live in the area, Tree Tenders, PHS staff, for the last one even some of the people were there to plant their own tree. But the park was largely a big company sending out their employees for a "giving back" day, and they refused to believe that planting a tree was anything more than "dig a hole and put it in."

The park, not being on the street, means there are no passers-by. On the street you interact with all kinds of people. Some people are interested in getting involved in these types of activities. Some people set up chairs to watch you and heckle, because a lot of people are under the impression that trees are bad. "Who's gonna clean up all those leaves? They can be dangerous you know!" Then of course there are the owners of the individual properties, and their adorable dogs, and sometimes their neighbors who really don't want a tiny tree leaned up against the edge of their house for even a moment!

The location for the second tree planting event was by far the best. We were planting on two streets, around a corner, surrounding an apartment complex. Not everyone, I got lucky and was in one of the two small groups assigned to this area. Everyone always had something to do because you could just move on to the next tree and work simultaneously. The apartment complex provided us with an easy water supply for all of the trees so we never had to bother individual residents. I don't know what they were doing at the park for watering but it involved huge tanks that they must have driven around, and at the other street planting we didn't water the trees at all.

The last event was more of a one-tree-per-stop situation. Our team leader had the truck with the trees and the tools and we split up into two teams of two (with enough tools in the truck for one team). My team, this day, was Greg and I, and it was fun to get him involved. Since it was just the two of us and I had to drive us around to each location, and then we had to sit and wait a bit, it was a very convenient day to be working with my partner instead of a stranger. When we got to the lunch at the Philadelphia Brewing Company at the end, our team leader was behind the bar, and we found out later via Googling that he's actually one of the founders.

At the park, as I had been volunteering with them all summer and just finished up Tree Tenders class, I was the team leader. But this didn't mean much to my team. Part of the awkwardness of them all being from the same company, and knowing each other, is they weren't really interested in what some rando had to say. Being a group leader also meant I didn't do much actual planting. I supervised, took tools away from small children, put on the bark protectors, pulled tiny low branches out of the mud. It wasn't until my group had left (without a word to me) that I planted a couple of trees at the end.

The finale on the last day was a raffle for a few different things like a free Tree Tenders class. Greg and I went all in for the loppers and won! I've already had a dream about trimming branches off of trees in my neighborhood with my shiny new tool.

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