Blue Water Baltimore just wrapped up another great tree-planting season. This spring, we planted 358 trees with 282 volunteers!
We kicked off the 2022 planting season in the southwest Baltimore neighborhood of Irvington. Our staff partnered with leaders from the Irvington Community Association and the Cooperative Community Development, Inc. to develop plans and do resident outreach.
Blue Water Baltimore is committed to engaging local residents with all of our street tree projects before we start digging. All new street trees are installed in the city right-of-way, which is located between the sidewalk and the street. Even though it is not residential property, our engagement process includes in-person visits to each home designated to get a new street tree. We offer residents the opportunity to select their tree from an approved street tree list, or opt out of the program entirely, and many residents chose the tree species in front of their homes.
As part of our mission to improve water quality in Baltimore, we remove impervious surfaces and replace them with green infrastructure. This means using heavy machinery to cut the sidewalk and then haul away dump truck loads of concrete to create new tree beds! Our team started the Irvington project by opening 40 new street tree beds across the neighborhood. That’s around 1,445 square feet of impervious surface that disappeared! This project will slow down rushing stormwater and reduce flooding in our communities.
Ready to Plant!
Our tree deliveries arrived in early April and over the following two weeks, we installed more than 150 trees along the streets of Irvington. Many went in front of residents’ homes, but several of the trees were planted along Frederick Ave. In the years to come, this busy road will be transformed into a green corridor with added beauty and shade for local residents and commuters as they pass the Loudon Park Cemetery and visit businesses in Irvington.
We worked with volunteers from Spiniello, Amazon, and the Girl Scouts to complete the project!
Our team will be back to water these trees every week for the next two summers.
Village of Violetville
After finishing in Irvington, our Restoration team moved our machines and supplies over to the Village of Violetville where we worked with another great team of community leaders from both the Violetville Community Association and the Village of Violetville, Inc. We spent a fun evening visiting all of the homes where trees could be planted, and talking to neighbors about the trees.
In late April and early May, our staff and volunteers planted an additional 150 trees in grass strips in front of residents’ homes. A few residents were concerned about tree roots and sewer lines, so we offered smaller, understory species to accommodate their requests. In both neighborhoods, residents could pick out their tree, and residents that did not want a tree could opt out as well.
Our work also includes time for food and fun. After our big Saturday planting event, we ordered pizza and everyone enjoyed live music by a Peruvian folk band from the neighborhood, ETNIA.
One community leader from the Violetville Community Association, Sue, attended every planting event with her own broom and dustpan in hand to make sure each new tree was left in proper order! She also brought out a big basket of reusable cups so everyone could enjoy cold water during the sunny plantings. Way to go, Sue!
Ashley, from the Village of Violetville, Inc., welcomed our volunteers to the neighborhood and shared information about ongoing projects in the community, including a cool project she started: a neighborhood compost drop-off facility in her own backyard for residents to bring their food scraps!
To install the trees, we worked with volunteers and sponsors from a wide variety of local organizations including Cambium Carbon, MOM’s Organic Market, Tunbridge Public Charter School, J Crew, Cityscape Engineering, Duke Alumni, St Paul’s BRIDGES students, and a group of adults with disabilities from the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives.
We also partnered with staff from Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital to plant 20 trees on their campus. The hospital identified flooding as a concern on the campus and Blue Water Baltimore is working on a design for a rain garden and a bioretention facility to reduce stormwater runoff from their parking facility. The design portion of the project is being funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Time for Reflection
At the end of the project, we hosted a virtual community listening session for community leaders from both Irvington and Violetville to glean additional feedback on our program and outreach efforts. We will return to both neighborhoods in the fall to plant additional trees, and look forward to deepening and broadening our connections in these vibrant neighborhoods in the seasons to come.
Asking more questions and incorporating the feedback aligns with our organizational goal of centering the needs of the communities in which we work.
We then returned to Hillcrest Park in Baltimore County near Lansdowne to plant 35 trees. The trees we planted in 2020 were unfortunately vandalized last year, but both students and Recreation & Parks staff thought we should replant the site to send a positive message about the resiliency of this community.
Shout out to all the students from local Lansdowne Middle and their dedicated teachers who joined us for the event! We also worked with volunteers from AECOM and Bmore Beyond Plastic.
Blue Water Baltimore has planted hundreds of street trees in Highlandtown since 2013. We partnered with the Highlandtown Community Association and Southeast Community Development Corporation. Sometimes our trees don’t survive the test of time, but we’re committed to re-planting at our previous sites whenever we have the ability. For our final spring planting, we returned to Highlandtown and replaced 17 trees with help from a large volunteer group from Constellation.
Each season, our team relies on individuals we call “‘Super Volunteers,” who come out time and again to support our planting efforts. These awesome folks jump in and assist with a variety of tasks including event setup and breakdown, checking-in volunteers, leading planting demonstrations, assisting volunteer groups, and watering trees. We are so grateful to these folks (you know who you are!) who make our projects a joy to implement.
The free tree giveaway program started almost 10 years ago to increase canopy coverage on private property and to inspire residents to be part of the solution. Each spring and fall, we offer a variety of native species ranging from understory flowering and fruiting trees to large canopy trees.
At the end of May, we hosted one free tree giveaway with our lovely partners at Stillmeadow Community Fellowship. Please visit their website to learn more about their Peace Park and other ongoing greening and sustainability projects. They are a hub of sustainability in West Baltimore. There are plenty of opportunities to get engaged and volunteer with them.
With the help of 22 volunteers, we survived the 97 degree heat and gave away almost 500 trees to residents of Baltimore City and County. If you missed it, don’t worry! We will host more events this coming fall.
Many thanks to our funders at TreeBaltimore, Baltimore County EPS, and BGE who make this program possible!
We hired new staff!
Our Restoration team is excited to welcome our new Restoration Crew Leader, Malcolm Wilson, who joined us from the Baltimore Tree Trust!
Stay cool this summer, everyone! We look forward to another exciting season ahead this fall!