Early springtime tree-planting flourishes in East Portland

Find out why volunteers with Friends of Trees head out to neighborhoods, even on dark, rainy days, for what they call ‘good, muddy fun’ …

Friends of Trees volunteer Marissa Barrick-Montgomery cuts away the burlap bundle, preparing to plant another tree in the Mill Park Neighborhood – in the pouring rain.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With a goal of planting 500 trees, Friends of Trees volunteers didn’t seem to mind that the sky was dark with thick rain clouds on the morning of January 26, when they headed to Gethsemane Lutheran Church at 11560 S.E. Market St.

Hot coffee and snacks warmed up volunteers, as Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Specialist and ISA Certified Arborist Andrew Land helped crew leaders gather bands of helpers, before heading out into the in the outer East Portland neighborhood s of Mill Park and Hazelwood.

Volunteer Savannah Weber-Griggs works with Crew Leader Jeff Kisseloff to ease a tree into its new home.

Two blocks west of the staging area, Crew Leader Jeff Kisseloff and a group of volunteers were already at work, planting trees.

“A couple of years ago, we got a knock on the door at our Westmoreland home,” Kisseloff told East Portland News. “Someone – it turns out they were with Friends of Trees – asked if we wanted a tree. When I agreed we did, they told us that we could help plant the tree.”

This group of adults and students have a great time “playing in the mud” during another Friends of Trees planting day.

As it turns out, Kisseloff enjoys it. “I love to plant trees; I’ve planted trees for years. So, I went out and planted trees on that horrible day – it was like this one – and got muddy and disgusting, and ‘had a ball’.  I said to myself, ‘I have to do more of this’.”

It wasn’t long, he said, before he became certified as a Crew Leader.

“I’m here today because, like I said, I love planting trees. So do the people who come out to volunteer with us. They come out and we all have fun, regardless of the weather. Most of us think it’s great fun to ‘play in the mud’.”

Grant High School students Ahren Lahvis and Aaron Everly flank Austin Knapp – as his home gets several new street trees.

And, Kisseloff pointed out, “Trees beautify our neighborhoods, cool the area during the summer, and help collect rainwater in the winter. Together, we’re all doing something good for the City.”

Having moved to Westmoreland from New York, Kisseloff recalled his first brush with Friends of Trees. “When we moved here two years ago, we learned what a great city this is for volunteering. It’s easy to help make a great city when everybody lends a hand.

“Grantonians” Luke Atherton and Owen McLafferty get ready to unload more trees to be planted.

“I love planting trees, and when ‘Friends of Trees’ came knocking on the door, I realized that this is how I could lend a hand,” Kisseloff said before he rejoined the crew.

Planting continues into April.  To open their Planting Calendar (an Adobe PDF document) CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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