Philadelphia is now home to 100 more trees, thanks to the Creating Canopy program.
The Creating Canopy initiative, sponsored this year by Penn and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, donated 100 trees to Penn and University of Pennsylvania Health System staff and faculty who live in Philadelphia. Interested employees had to register in advance to pick up a tree May 16 or May 21.
According to Senior Facilities Planner and Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo, the program is in its third year and is part of the University’s sustainability initiatives, as outlined in Penn’s Climate Action Plan of 2009.
“Increasing the tree canopy in the City of Philadelphia has profound and long-lasting benefits to the city’s ecology and local environment,” he said in an email.
The tree giveaway also helps Penn towards a Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. Penn has earned this designation every year for the past four years, Garofalo added.
In addition, the program helps fulfill the “Engaging Locally” principle of the Penn Compact, Garofalo said.
“Penn as an institution is committed to engaging and supporting the adjacent West Philly neighborhood, and sponsoring the tree giveaway is one more way be can be a ‘good neighbor’ in our community,” he explained.
First year Nursing master’s student, 2010 Nursing graduate and 2009 College graduate Meredith Palusci, who also works at Penn, and first-year Wharton MBA student and 2009 College graduate John Palusci were among the people who picked up their free tree in the parking lot at Penn Park on May 16.
The Paluscis live in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, and had heard about the program from a neighbor.
“We’re brand new homeowners, and trees are expensive,” Meredith Palusci said. “We probably wouldn’t go out and buy one for ourselves. It was nice that this existed.”
“And so nearby, too,” John Palusci added.
During tree pickup times, representatives from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society were also on hand to demonstrate tips for planting and caring for trees.
“I was worried that we were just going to come and like ‘Oh, here’s your tree, take it,’ because I don’t know the first thing about planting a tree,” Meredith Palusci said.
The program also gave participants mulch to further assist in the planting process, John Palusci said.
A week after the participants have picked up their trees, Parks & Rec will check in to ensure that they have, in fact, planted the trees. The initiative is part of the larger “TreePhilly” initiative by Parks & Rec.
The number of trees the program offers depends on both who the University partners with and the estimated demand within those constraints, University Landscape Architect Bob Lundgren said. Because the only partner this year is Parks & Rec, only 100 trees were offered and only to employees living within Philadelphia.
Last year, however, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society was a partner, so employees living in Philadelphia suburbs were also eligible to receive a tree. As a result, almost 300 trees were given away.
“Enthusiasm has been high for all three years that we have done this program,” Lundgren said in an email. “Fortunately, we’ve come pretty close each year to demand with the trees we’ve purchased.”
This year, the program offered 12 different types of trees, from Willow Oak to Eastern Redbud to Yoshino Cherry. Lundgren, along with Morris Arboretum Associate Director of Urban Forestry Jason Lubar, chose the variety of trees. They picked trees that are known to do well in the greater Philadelphia area and trees that are typically popular with homeowners — flowering or shady trees of moderate size.
Meredith chose a Stellar Pink Dogwood for the couple’s new backyard.
“We were looking for a tree to spruce it up,” she said.