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The original item was published from December 1, 2022 12:38 PM to December 21, 2022 10:01 AM
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!
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.
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!