Continuing to green up London’s living guard of trees
Tree planting VMP-0929-sm
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
As the community continues to embrace the Million Tree Challenge, it is also focusing on the ongoing beautification of London’s tribute to the sacrifices of Canada’s military.
The plan for the Veterans Memorial Parkway Community Program is to plant 6,500 trees along the road and create what has been called “a 10-kilometre living guard of honour” for our veterans.
On Saturday (Sept. 29), another 210 large caliper trees were added to the project, with the assistance of about 250 dedicated volunteers. Those volunteers included students and staff from Western University, about 100 scouts and girl guides, members of the Lambeth Lions and other passionate supporters of making London a true Forest City.
One other group played a key role in Saturday’s planting, the 85 members of the Fanshawe College horticulture technician program. The students were taking part, according to Michael Pascoe, program co-ordinator, to learn a number of valuable lessons.
“Every year we do a community project as a team-building exercise and a way of giving back to the community,” Pascoe said. “Long-term, we are committing for the next few years until the project is completed so every year we will participate as our community project.”
And while the students are putting into practice the things they learned in the classroom, Pascoe said he hopes they take something else away from the project.
“I hope they take away that they should be volunteering,” Pascoe said. “I am a big believer in volunteerism and I hope they see the benefit to their career in horticulture, giving back to the city, to the community, working with different groups, working and learning with each other.”
That kind of community spirit is music to the ears of Barry Sandler, executive director of the Veterans Memorial Parkway Community Program.
Sandler, who has been working on the project for many years now — longer, in fact, than there has been a program — said as much as the students are learning, he and the community volunteers are as well.
“We are working in some tougher environments, ditches and slopes, so we are learning a lot. We hope to really accelerate things in the next few years,” Sandler said. “It feels great to have everyone out here. I want more, faster, but it is coming along. It is growing every year. The quality and survivability of the trees is up. So we have learned a lot every time we do this. It is quite encouraging.”
The goal of the program is to have the 6,500 parkway plantings completed by 2017.
To achieve that goal, however, takes more than muscles — it takes money. Sandler praised the efforts of original supporters like Trojan UV, 3M Canada and Starlim North America, but added the project is continuing to gain support in both the general public and the business community.
“It is now really growing. We are getting more and more corporations engaged, but we also want to get individual London residents involved,” Sandler said. “We are part of the Million Tree Challenge, which is also growing, the word is getting out, the message is getting out. We are getting there; I am encouraged. I want it to happen faster of course, but I can’t complain.”
To also assist with fundraising, Sandler suggests people purchase trees, which the program will then plant along the parkway. For more information, visit www.treesfortheparkway.ca.
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