Kids Help Plant Trees in Arbor Day Forest (video)

Kids Help Plant Trees in Arbor Day Forest (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 25, 2013)

Campers from the Kulick Center Summer Program joined the Department of Public Works and the Beautification Commission for the annual tree planting in the Arbor Day Forest at Oppenheimer Park on Tuesday. Two dozen youngsters aged 5-12 listened as Parks and Forestry Supervisor Shaun Slocum explained tree-planting basics. Then they dug in themselves, taking turns shoveling in the dirt needed to support the two trees they were adding to the forest.

This year’s additions were a Japanese Zelkova and a Honey Locus. This is the 11th year participating in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program. The Arbor Day Foundation has lots of information on their website, including 15 benefits of being a Tree City. Among them are that it “Touches the lives baby01of people within the community who benefit daily from cleaner air, shadier streets, and aesthetic beauty that healthy, well-managed urban forests provide,” and that it “Can make a strong contribution to a community’s pride.”

Ferndale is one of 34,000 cities with a Tree City USA designation. There are only 120 cities in Michigan, including Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Rochester Hills and Detroit.

Cities are required to meet several criteria, demonstrating a commitment to increasing trees in the communities and providing for their care.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Ferndale leaders voted on a new sidewalk replacement program authorization which includes a new provision where the city will not charge homeowners for replacing slabs that have been damaged by city-owned trees. Though the estimated cost of picking up those repairs is between $5,000-$10,000 a year, DPW Director Loyd Cureton said it will save in f115 side ad How Muchthe cost of having to remove trees that are problematic. Mayor Dave Coulter said that without taking on the cost, “We’re incentivizing taking trees down, when we want people to be planting trees.”

The city also offers residents the opportunity to buy trees, which they will plant for them either in their yard or on the city-owned space between the sidewalk and the curb. The cost is $125. More info can be found at

The youngsters on Monday learned about tree planting and care, including the importance of cutting away burlap but leaving the existing dirt in place so that the roots can gradually adjust as they grow into their new surroundings. Slocum put absorbent crystals into the dirt around the roots to help with water retention, and he showed the kids how deep a tree should grow.

“Putting mulch around the top makes it look nice, but it also helps hold in moisture,” he said. He also said that you JudyPalmer01have to make sure you know how big a tree will get before deciding if it is right for a particular spot.

The young campers asked lots of questions, curious about everything from why there was no fruit on the trees, why the soil had different color clumps in it, and what kind of bugs were flying about. They were eager to help and gracious in sharing the shovels. The children went in order from youngest to oldest.20130625treeSIDE

“Five-year-olds should help each other,” said two of the youngest ones who worked together to add their scoop of dirt to the hole.

Cheering them on were Summer Camp Director Alechia Fludd, Assistant Director Emanuel Johnson, several members of the DPW and Beautification Commission, Councilperson Dan Martin, and Ginger Keaton who came as a representative of the Dales neighborhood group.

“Every day I walk around and I discover new things about Ferndale that just make it such a great neighborhood,” Keaton said. “Hopefully these children will go home and talk f115goldenabout what they learned with their parents, and they will appreciate all the trees too.”

The 27 campers in the program will get other hands-on lessons this summer as well. Fludd is looking forward to guiding them on adventures to a water park and the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as helping them put on a mini Olympics and a talent show.

For more information on The DPW Forestry Program go to For more on Parks and Recreation Summer Camp visit

See our previous tree related stories at:

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