Forests Ontario

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Toddlers pitch in to help plant trees in Orillia

Posted: August 13, 2019

Toddlers at Orillia Central Preschool team up to plant White Pine tree.

When Jane Ball, a retired college counsellor in Orillia, heard that the Government of Ontario had cancelled funding for the 50 Million Tree Program, she wanted to help.

“I am extremely concerned about the climate crisis,” said Ball, a founder of the Couchiching Conservancy, a land trust that now owns 12,000 acres in Ontario. “It’s an emergency.”

Ball contacted a friend at a local conservation authority, who gave her 80 White Pine seedlings left over from spring tree planting projects. Ball then contacted Linda Rodenburg, who runs the Ontario Master Naturalist Program at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University. Rodenburg suggested they plant 25 seedlings at her son Scott’s daycare, Orillia Central Preschool. Rodenburg lent the trowels; Ball sent the mulch.

The toddlers planted and watered the pine trees. Ball marveled at the intergenerational nature of the daycare tree planting. A senior got the seedlings; a parent brought them to the daycare; the kids planted the trees.

“Seniors don’t know what to do. They feel frustrated about climate change,” Ball said. “In a tiny, tiny way, this is how we save the planet. The little three and four-year-olds are learning about trees.”

Mary Ann McLennan, the preschool’s Executive Director, focuses with the children on recycling and using worms to process compost, to teach the importance of sustainability.

“We talked to the children about shade and air, and how trees provide food and clean the air. The children are tending to the trees with a lot of love,” she said.

Fortunately, federal funding means Forests Ontario will continue the 50 Million Tree program next year. Still, even with government cash, Forests Ontario says its tree planting efforts rely on plenty of help from forest lovers and from planters, both young and older.– Peter Kuitenbrouwer

The Ontario Master Naturalist Program at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University donated the spades for the tree planting event