Forests Ontario

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Muddy Knees & Happy Trees: My Experience at the York Tree Plant

Posted: May 16, 2017

by M.J. Kettleborough

Last Saturday I woke up at five a.m; a great feat for someone like myself. I stumbled out of bed, put on my Forests Ontario tee-shirt, and sucked back what was probably an unhealthy amount of coffee before setting out for my first ever tree planting experience.

It took just over an hour to get from downtown Toronto to the rural heart of East Gwillimbury and, though I silently spewed epithets at it most of the way, the rain followed suit. I recalled the staff meeting a few days prior culminating in a presentation on ticks and how to remove them; at least the rain would keep any insects at bay, I thought (… that’s how it works, right?).

Once on-site at the 2017 York Tree Plant I realized that—due to the now pounding rain—our numbers would be low. We had been expecting 200 volunteers on this day; but alas, it was only staff and cows as far as the eye could see.

Then something quite amazing happened.

Slowly… steadily… people began to arrive. They pulled off the road and darted down the hill to sign in with me, sporting near-halos of energy and smiles. They were individuals and families alike and they were sacrificing their Saturdays to dig and plant and help the planet. They did this although they had every excuse to stay in their warm beds that early, wet, cold and grey day.

I got to meet the Grierson twins and their lovely mother, who have somewhat of a celebrity status at Forests Ontario as ambassadors of the Green Leaf Challenge.

The town’s Mayor, Virginia Hackson, came as planned, as did Member of Parliament, Julie Munro. We even had a journalist stop by to take photos!

In the end we weren’t 200, but the 60 or so wonderful people who showed up did an excellent job. We left East Gwillimbury with a few hundred more trees taking root–white cedars, red maples, white and red pines, to be specific—and went on our way. I got home to continue my day—a long bath, online fables, white and red wines, to be specific—and went to bed with my faith in humanity firmly intact.

M.J. is the newest member of the Forests Ontario communications team. She is a proud vegetarian, a yoga-enthusiast, and can often be found vintage-shopping or cider-drinking in Kensington Market. She also insists that she is much less of a crunchy-granola-hippy-type than this description may lead one to believe.