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Dec 21

Almost 500 Trees Planted in Tacoma Over Veterans’ Day Weekend.

Posted on December 21, 2022 at 10:01 AM by Camila Matamala-Ost

478 free trees were given out over the weekend, 80% of which went to neighborhoods with some of the
478 free trees were given out over the weekend, 80% of which went to neighborhoods with some of the lowest canopies in the city.

For a lot of people, Veterans’ Day is just another day off, but for those who served, the Federal Holiday is part celebration and part continued service. That’s why we were so excited that the Veterans’ Conservation Corps (VCC) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joined us this year on Veterans’ Day for Branch Out, the Great Tree Giveaway!

This is the second time this year that PCD co-hosted this event with the Tacoma Tree Foundation and City of Tacoma’s Urban Forestry Department. Through Branch Out, people in the greater Tacoma area get free trees delivered and planted in their yard. This November, we gave away 478 free trees to 167 people. Most importantly, over 80% of these trees were planted in Tacoma neighborhoods with the lowest tree canopy cover. PCD’s Harvest Pierce County program also helped get 112 fruit trees out to 55 people, providing folks with healthy, home-grown fruit!

Volunteers plant a free tree at a home in Tacoma.
Volunteers not only delivered free trees to people, they also helped to plant them! 

Planting trees is important for a host of reasons. Many of the neighbors who joined us at Branch Out mentioned their concerns about increasing temperatures due to climate change. Youth and tree advocate, Monty, lives in the neighborhood and knows firsthand the importance of shade trees. They spoke to volunteers before they went out to plant trees about how neighbors in East Tacoma, the Hilltop, and elsewhere in the city are significantly hotter because of low tree canopy cover.

Local youth advocate Monty shares why trees are vital as climate change make neighborhoods hotter.
Youth and tree advocate Monty shared with volunteers why trees are so important to them and their neighborhood as climate change makes neighborhoods hotter and more dangerous. With more shade trees, neighborhoods can stay cooler and healthier.
Tacoma City Councilor Joe Bushnell spoke, sharing his experience as a veteran and how nature heals.
Tacoma City Councilor Joe Bushnell spoke at the event, sharing his experience as a veteran and the importance of connecting with nature to help heal and reconnect to community.

Other speakers talked about the connection between trees and veterans. City Councilmember Joe Bushnell, Tacoma’s only veteran on City Council, and VCC Intern MacKenzie Weers both spoke about their personal experiences of transitioning from military service back to civilian life, which can be challenging. For both Bushnell and Weers, being out in nature and doing community service was part of their journey to reconnecting with their neighbors and adjusting to life outside of the military. About one third of the volunteers who joined us were also veterans, many of whom shared similar experiences.

With close to 500 trees planted over the weekend, we increased Tacoma’s tree canopy by four acres, a big accomplishment for a city with one of the lowest urban tree canopies in Washington. Even more importantly, though, the people who joined us had a great time meeting each other and serving their neighbors. It’s an important reminder that urban restoration is just as much about healing nature as it is about healing our connections to each other and our environment.

With the major successes we had in 2022, PCD and our partners plan to host Branch Out again in 2023. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updated on when the next event will be and how you can get a free tree or volunteer with us. 

Thank you again to all our partners and volunteers for an amazing weekend!

Volunteers met at the VFW in Tacoma on Veterans’ Day to deliver and plant trees throughout Tacoma.
Volunteers met at the VFW in Tacoma on Veterans’ Day to help deliver and plant trees throughout Tacoma.
VCC Program Coordinator Kim Pham passes Tagro to a volunteer.
We were thrilled to partner with the Veterans’ Conservation Corps for this event! Kim Pham, VCC’s Program Coordinator, joined us for a weekend of continued service..
Stacks of TAGRO and stakes donated by the City of Tacoma.
Thanks to the City of Tacoma for providing TAGRO and stakes. These materials will help ensure that the new trees will start off strong in their new homes.


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