Did you know that a tree can absorb 20 kg of carbon dioxide per year? Planting trees won't solve climate change (since our collective emissions are still too big), but it can help! Trees also provide many other benefits like habitat, shade, and water retention.
And, a tree planting project can be a great kid-friendly community event that can raise awareness about climate change and develop new relationships for you and your team.
Here are some tips for putting on a tree planting event:
1) Find a suitable site. The longer the trees live, the more carbon they store, so it's important to choose a tree planting site where they will thrive for decades. You may find a private property owner who has some 'spare' land. Your city or school may have some public property that's appropriate, or you could call around to local land trusts to ask. Allow lots of lead time for this! It's helpful of course if the site is accessible since you'll want lots of people there on the day, and safe for kids.
2) Get some tree advice. Your local garden centre, city hall, local greening/tree planting organization or phone book will have somebody who knows a lot about trees, whether a qualified arborist or something close. Tell them you want to do a community tree planting event and get their advice about what species to plant and how to do that so that the trees have good conditions. Perhaps they'd agree to come on the day to give planting lessons? Remember that new trees need careful watering for a few years, so make sure that's taken care of.
3) Seek donations. See if you can get saplings, soil, and mulch donated. Call around to garden centres and explain what you are up to and see if they are willing. Remember you may also need to deer-proof new saplings, so see if you can get tree guards donated too. If you do need to buy supplies, can you get other local businesses or service clubs to donate to cover those costs?
4) Make an event plan. Planting trees sounds easy, but when you have dozens of people arriving at the same time, you need a plan for how you are going to orient everyone and get them going without chaos! You'll need helpers with clarity about their roles. Think everything through and write it down.
5) Make it fun and social. Yes, plant trees, but also build in other stuff. Can you serve lunch? Can you have a social gathering after? Take the opportunity for people to interact with one another and get to know each other. Ask people to join your team for your next project.
6) Communicate and educate. Both in the build up to your event and after it's over, you have the opportunity to educate people about why you are doing this. You can talk about climate change and the need to act. You can work with your tree expert (from no. 2 above) to calculate the annual carbon sequestered by the project and advertise this. You can get people thinking about more solutions. Get local media involved and post on social media.