Tree Stewardship Workshop at Our Park a Huge Success

I am thrilled to report that the Tree Care Workshop on April 27th was a huge success from every perspective.

We had stellar volunteers from IS 10, the confident and upbeat leadership of Bin Feng Zheng, the elbow grease of new and regular Friends of Astoria Heights Park members, and even the help of City Councilman Costa Constantinides.

Mother and daughter signing in and signing up to be notified of future events.

Bin Feng Zheng and Lauren positioning mulch near all of the trees receiving assistance.

Bin Feng Zheng and Lynn Kennedy pose with our student volunteers from IS10.

Bin Feng Zheng leads an introductory discussion about caring for trees.

Bin Feng Zheng explains to volunteers how they will be helping trees. Step One is cleaning up the area, removing garbage and pet excrement. Step Two is unpacking the dirt around the trees, leaving a 1-2 foot radius around the base of the tree so no tree roots are hurt. Step Three involves mixing dirt with mulch, turning it over, loosening the soil to make it easier for water to find its way to the tree roots. Step Four involves adding more mulch, loosely spreading it around the base.

There is something joyful about holding dirt in your hands.

More getting to know and like dirt action.

Bin Feng Zheng encourages everybody to take their time, enjoy the beautiful day together, be careful for pieces of glass, and ask questions if they need help.

Working the soil at a safe distance from the tree trunk.

Tree stewardship in action.

Filling bags with garbage. For some reason, people use the tree squares as trash receptacles. This has to stop!

Unpacking the mulch. We spread approximately two tons of it.

Fun for all ages. And Councilman Costas Constantinides pitched in for over an hour.

Tree Care Captains Lauren Hale Biniaris and Lynn Kennedy taking a moment to breathe with Costa Constantinides after completing the 45th Street tree care and before heading over to 46th Street. By the end of the three hour event, all of the trees on 45th and 46th streets and 30th Road adjacent to Astoria Heights Park received tender loving care.

We gave much-needed love to all of the trees that line 45th Street, 30th Road, and 46th Street— cleaning, weeding, mulching all of the tree beds with an impressive eighty bags of mulch donated by the department of sanitation. Eighty bags of mulch equals 4,000 pounds of mulch! Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.

It was gorgeous day enjoyed by all. Perhaps the most rewarding part of it for me was getting to know some of the awesome students that helped out. They were so positive, hard working, intelligent, and good-natured. It was a real pleasure working with them!

As newly trained Care Captains through Million Trees NYC, Lynn Kennedy and I were thrilled with how well this went and we’re eager to lead future tree care events around the park. During this event, it was also brought home to us that the area surrounding the Big Square, the grass and dirt and trees right on the other side of the Big Square fence clearly needs some attention. There are going to be plenty of opportunities for our community to come together at our Park to help out the trees and plant life, to bring in more flowers, and make the whole area greener and more beautiful. We’re looking forward to teaming up with volunteers throughout the Summer and Fall to make that happen. Stay tuned!

All photographs and captions © Adam W. Cohen, All Rights Reserved.

Our youngest volunteer, Benjamin, gives a tree a pat on the bark in Astoria Heights Park’s playground.

Getting Excited About the Tree Stewardship Workshop

I’m getting very excited for the Million Trees NYC Tree Care Workshop this Sunday, April 27th at 10am in Astoria Heights Park!  Million Trees NYC is a city-wide program whose goal is to plant and care for a million new trees throughout the five boroughs over the next ten years. In so doing, they will increase NYC’s tree population by a whopping 20 percent!

Last month, Lynn Kennedy (Chair of Friends of Astoria Heights Park) and I had the wonderful opportunity to be trained as Tree Care Captains through Million Trees NYC. The training was informative and inspiring, and we are really looking forward to collaborating with such an amazing organization. Check out their website if you are so inclined.

The Friends of Astoria Heights Park have “adopted” many of the trees bordering the park, which means that we have committed to caring for newly planted trees, cleaning and maintaining tree beds, and watering trees, especially during hot summer months (thank goodness we have the sprinklers nearby).

The workshop this Sunday will include mulching, composting, and tree bed care and will be educational, physical, and most importantly fun!

I am so grateful to live in a city with programs as incredible as Million Trees, in a community that values the role of the urban forest, and near a park that, despite its problems, has some of the most gorgeous trees around.

Hope to see you Sunday!


Zoe (my daughter) honors a local resident for taking such excellent care of the tree bed outside their building by giving them an “I’m Impressed” flag, courtesy of Million Trees NYC.

A group of playground regulars help to install signs that Zoe and I made encouraging dog owners not to let their pets poop in the tree beds outside one of our park entrances.

The final product.

The final product.