Families turn out to adopt Boone Park trees

Families turn out to  adopt Boone Park trees
JEA Forester Joe Anderson demonstrates the proper way to plant and care for the trees during the Love Boone Park South event.

The Friends of Boone Park South, JEA, Greenscape and a large group of area residents gathered forces at the park Feb. 8 to clean up the park and help it become more densely forested. Boone Park South is the 10-acre portion of the 28-acre park between St. Johns Avenue and Herschel Street.

Families signed up to plant and adopt a tree, with a commitment to water the tree twice a week for the first three weeks and once a week through the summer. Greenscape co-sponsored the event and JEA Forester Joe Anderson was on hand to demonstrate the proper way to plant and care for the trees. Anderson works closely with Greenscape, the non-profit that provided the trees.

“We just want to make this park a great place,” said Friends President and Founder Pamela Telis. Before events commenced, she read one of her favorite quotes to the crowd: “The one who plants trees knowing they will never sit in their shade has begun to understand the meaning of life.”

Telis said that 21 families signed up to adopt one of a variety of trees, including swamp chestnut oak, red maple, pignut hickory, live oak, red oak and green ash. Others who hadn’t signed up came, also. And of the families, only one third had previously adopted a tree.

The group also planted some pine trees in what is admittedly an experiment. Boone’s forest is an oak/hickory/pine forest, which provides a lot of shade, while pines need a lot of light. But because the park has lost so many pine trees, Friends decided to give it a try.

“It was quite a success!” Telis said after the event. “It’s getting so popular that I can hardly keep up with demand. It’s a great thing. I think people want to do something in our community. It’s obviously taken off and several people have talked to me about doing something in other parks. I think that the model we have for the tree planting and our Friends group can be adapted to any park. That’s what I would like to see, to make our parks great.”

Thomas John and Jennifer Simmons and their daughter, Margaret, 18 months, were one of the many families who came to plant a tree in the brisk morning air.

“We walk in the park almost every day, and Pamela is our neighbor and told us about it,” Simmons shared. “We thought it was great. We are always in the park, we live right in the neighborhood, and we were happy to be able to plant a tree and name it after our daughter and be a part of the day.”

People like Simmons’ young family were the ones Telis wanted to get involved.

“Those young families with children are the ones who are in the park all the time. What a model for the children. The children say, ‘That’s my tree.’ That’s making a difference for the next generation.”

The gathering was the fourth annual observance of Love Boone Park South. However, Friends of Boone Park South first planted more than 58 trees and bushes there in 2015, The Resident reported. Half died due to lack of water, but the adopt-a-tree program has been successful in keeping most new plantings alive because residents commit to making sure they are adequately watered.

“People are out in the park anyway on a weekly basis,” Telis said. “Having to walk through the park on a regular basis is kind of a fun chore.”

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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