Tree Tenders program branches out to, and plants roots in, Germantown

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership Inc. (TTF) and Awbury Arboretum Association all hope to educate residents on the benefits of tree planting in their urban neighborhoods.

They had a chance to do just that on Wednesday night as residents of Germantown and Abington Township headed to Awbury to hear a “Branch Out: An introduction to PHS Tree Tenders” presentation about greening efforts in their communities.

PHS tree expert Mindy Maslin is the project manager of Tree Tenders, a tree-cultivation training program. She spoke about the proper care needed for tree survival, among other topics including the watershed.

“The watershed is something we all need to care about whether we live in Philadelphia or Montgomery County,” said Julie Slavet, executive director of TTF.

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Planting more trees in the watershed will help with stormwater management, soak up rainwater, increase property values and provide shade to homes during hot summer months, she said.

Ongoing efforts

Several years ago, the staff of TTF created the Wingohocking Tree Tenders, an effort led by Abby Grosslein, an AmeriCorps VISTA tree-campaign organizer.

Today, the group is known as the Germantown Tree Tenders. It has planted an estimated 20 trees this year.

As part of the effort, PHS hosts training sessions about basic tree planting, care, biology, pruning, root care and identification of tree stresses. The next sessions will be held Jan. 19 and 26. Maslin said residents are encouraged to come as a group when possible.

“Three people from a neighborhood constitutes as a group,” she said. “Groups get to order trees through us to plant street trees. We don’t go into neighborhoods and do tree planting for groups, but we teach groups how to organize their own planting.”

Aine Doley, known for ongoing efforts to help rejuvenate a West Rockland Street block (and more), is now helming the Germantown Tree Tenders.

“I’m really excited to be the new leader of the Germantown Tree Tenders,” Doley said.

“TTF and Abby have kind of spearheaded it in the last year or two,” she continued, noting that she hopes “to use my community organizing background to strengthen the group, expand it, grow it, get in touch with all of the CDCs in Germantown, partner with the RCOs, block captains and start to get more of a strategy, more of a plan to how we’re going to plant these trees more on a grid.”

Neighborhood reaction

Talmadge “Tally” Tippett is captain of the unit block of East Tulpehocken Street. He and his wife Phyllis heard a similar presentation lead by Grosslein a few weeks ago. The Tippett family wanted more trees planted on the street on which they have lived for an estimated 20 years.

“They add value to property,” said Tally.

“Also, it keeps the neighborhood cool as a tree-lined block,” Phyllis added. “Some of the trees were cut down in previous years, especially in front of our house. So, we would like to have some beautification in the neighborhood. It helps [with] pollution and air quality.”

Gabrielle Moore, whose family has owned a home on the same block for 40 years, said gardening and caring about the envirionment brought her to the event.

“It’s a shame that the landscape in the city is so harsh,” Moore said. “People really need to break up the concrete and start planting things. So, this is up my alley. I learned a lot. If I had the time, I would volunteer with the Tree Tenders, but do it in my own way and hopefully make a difference.”

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