Credit: Joy Lee / The Daily Pennsylvanian

The annual Creating Canopy Tree Giveaway Program, which offers Penn’s faculty and staff a free tree to plant in their homes, will take place this year on May 4.

The initiative, which began in 2012, is funded by the Facilities and Real Estate Services at Penn and is organized by the Penn Green Campus Partnership. Dan Garofalo, the Partnership’s sustainability director, said that the program has been “going strong” since the start.

“Trees reduce air pollution, absorb storm water, increase property value … and they’re beautiful,” Garofalo said. “It was a win-win for the city and the community members because they wanted to participate and liked the idea of planting a tree in their backyard.”

Faculty and staff can choose from a wide range of tree species: White Fringetree, Redbug, Persimmon, River Birch and White Pine to name a few. Those who wish to partake in the program must pre-register and show up with a Penn ID on the day of the giveaway.

“I would say it’s a very popular program, and everyone who’s been part of it is really appreciative of the program,” Sustainability Analyst Madeline Schuh said.

Last year, the initiative gave away 200 trees to University staff and faculty. This year, the program has ordered 300 trees so far. Faculty from various schools at Penn participate in the giveaway, with participants from Penn’s Health Systems doubling since the start, according to Heidi Wunder, assistant director of communications at Facilities and Real Estate Services.

The program initially operated in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, whose mayor at the time of the initiative's inception acknowledged the benefits of creating expansive tree canopies in the greater Philadelphia region and started a tree planting campaign.

The program, which now works with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, is modeled after the city’s efforts to plant thousands of trees throughout the city without employing much manpower.

“By making the trees available [for community members to plant on their own], we’re actually engaging people to participate and so that’s a great way to meet our goals,” Garofalo said. “The recipients can then plant and water their own trees.” 

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