Tree planting near Beulah Presbyterian Church provides environmental boost to Churchill area

Volunteers from several organizations came together late last month to make the landscape of Churchill a little greener.

More than 70 people planted 115 trees in the area between Beulah Presbyterian Church, its nearby cemetery and the Parkway East.

The church partnered with Garfield Community Farm and Plant Five for Life to help make the forest restoration effort happen.

“There was great community support, more than expected,” said Alex Ruzanic, the church’s director of youth and missional outreach. “I was expecting hopefully around 30, but it was amazing to be over double that. Another grand thing was the amount of young people who came out to plant with us. Friends of the church, folks who care about our community, young people who care about our environment.”

Planting locations included spots in front of the main church and preschool/child care buildings along McCrady Road, around the historic Beaulah Chapel, parking lot edges, stormwater runoff sites and areas along the woods in the rear of the church property.

Tree types included black willow, buttonbush, Eastern redbud, paw paw, persimmon, red maple, red oak, red-oiser dogwood, arrowwood, black gum, silky dogwood, silver maple, speckled alder, spicebush, swamp white oak, sweet bay magnolia, sweet gum, sycamore, tulip poplar and witch-hazel.

Beulah church elder Victoria Zido of Wilkins planted winterberry trees between the church and cemetery parking lots.

“It was such a wonderful inter-generational experience,” she said. “There was something for everybody to do. We could all enjoy doing something great for the environment and be all together working toward the common good.”

Volunteers’ ages ranged from the 70s to as young as 5.

“In the church world, our membership is getting older,” Ruzanic said. “It was a joy to see young and youthful folks join us and work alongside each other. Our younger families came out in a strong force. We seemed to hit a nerve. I think (that) speaks volumes to the importance of this project.”

Zido said she was very impressed with the young volunteers who assisted with the planting, and everyone learned something about trees.

“The people who were organizing the event for us gave interesting information,” said Zido. “The more trees we can have on our property, the more exhaust from vehicles that run along the Parkway can be absorbed.”

The winterberry trees will help provide food for birds in the coming weeks and months, and later provide shade in the summer, Zido said.

Each tree was wrapped in a biodegradable “tree shelter” to help protect it from deer, wind and ice. The wraps remain in place until the tree grows and splits open the shelter.

Plant Five for Life is a nonprofit that partners with others to create air pollution buffers along traffic corridors.

President Christine Graziano said the trees and shelters for the Beulah project were provided through the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership with the Chesapeak Bay Foundation.

Graziano’s group has planted and given about 12,000 trees since its launch two years ago. A message about the October tree planting was posted to the Plant Five for Life Facebook page.

Shadyside Presbyterian Church and the Open Door Presbyterian Church in Garfield also participated in the planting.

The October event was one part of a multiphase effort to improve the area landscape.

“I not only think it is necessary, but critical and important,” Ruzanic said about the project. “We have to be good stewards of our world. It starts in our backyards and community. We have been working for a few years on this project, and to see the fruit of these labors was powerful. We have at least three more plantings planned for the next two years. Our goal is to plant between 400 to 500 trees in total.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter .

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