When autumn arrives, leaves turn golden, then drift to the ground for another season. But, this natural cycle signals the start of life for hundreds of new trees, as “Friends of Trees” volunteers fan out, increasing the city’s green canopy.

If you’ve wondered how a small nonprofit organization can plant so many trees – their secret is to train tree-planting volunteers.

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Neighbor and returning volunteer Karl Lee drives a stake, to help steady his new ginkgo tree. “We use the ‘train the trainer’ model,” Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Specialist Jesse Batty told THE BEE. “We train ‘crew leaders’ how to teach, and then they lead groups of volunteers on how to plant trees properly.”

The instruction is more than just “dig a hole in the ground”, Batty said. “We’ve found there are wrong and right ways to plant trees. For example, a deep hole isn’t always better; too deep a hole will cause trees to eventually fail.”

When it comes to adding soil amenities, they recommend against it, Batty advised. “It’s better to allow the trees’ roots to adapt to its new home soil. We do recommend adding three inches of mulch, after it’s backfilled, to hold in moisture.”

Along S.E. 36th Avenue in Eastmoreland, Crew Leader Geoff Painter was training new Friends of Trees crew leaders. “I was a volunteer last year,” Painter said, “and I’m serving as a crew leader this year.”

Volunteer Karl Lee told us he lives a block down the street. “About 20 years ago I was a crew leader with Friends of Trees. I’m getting back into it now.”

He offers his time, Lee said, because “We’re putting in a diversity of trees. At the same time, we’re getting a multiple-age stand of trees. This is important, because we’ve had a problem in our neighborhood with old trees decaying and falling down. Now, we’re putting in a whole new generation of trees.”

Tim Faherty and his family arrived home just after their new tree had been planted: “We thought it would be fun to see a ginkgo tree growing here.”

No experience is necessary to volunteer to plant trees on almost any Saturday, through April. To learn where and when to volunteer, visit their Internet website: HYPERLINK ""

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