Despite the warm and muggy weather, autumn begins tomorrow and with it comes planting season! Here at the TreeFolks office, the anticipation is whirring. Volunteer training is underway, trees are being ordered, and I am receiving phone calls and emails from excited Central Texans who can’t wait to get to planting! Trust me, as a new TreeFolk, I can’t wait either. Cool air, a cup of coffee, and working alongside friends new and old are just a few of my favorite things. So why can’t we get started this weekend? To answer this question, I took a closer look at how we prepare for our Ready, Set, Plant program.
Digging holes and placing trees is at the heart of what we do during community plantings, but the goals of Ready, Set, Plant go further than making Austin green for a day. We work in partnership with City of Austin Watershed Protection to select sites where tree plantings make a big impact. TreeFolks works with ecologists from the Watershed Protection Department and a representative from Keep Austin Beautiful to look for planting sites in riparian zones, or areas near creeks and streams, which are often at risk for runoff and erosion. Since we welcome many hundreds of volunteers throughout the season, we take their safety into consideration as well when we choose our sites.
Once a site is selected, the team looks at the soil type and chooses native trees and shrubs that will thrive without irrigation in order to make the most of Austin’s precious water resources. Native plants have roots that can work through Texan soils to anchor themselves and reinforce the banks of rivers and streams, making them less susceptible to erosion.
A plan is then drawn up to make placing trees a matter of ready, set, plant for our volunteers. The planting plan will make the most of the shade these little trees will someday offer to smaller plants, creating the lush green space that gives way to better soil retention, cleaner water, wildlife habitat, and cool places for folks to read a book, enjoy a picnic, or just admire the view. That’s a future I love imagining, and I’m excited to help make it reality. I hope you join us! Volunteer projects are available now here at our website, and we’re adding more weekly! To stay in the loop about volunteer opportunities, subscribe to our Newsletter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.