Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 18 Forest Hills Tree Giveaway To Donate 200 Trees & To Exceed 1,000 Donated Trees Since 2011!

By Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council Chairman & Forest Hills Times Columnist

To reserve a free tree, visit

A feeling of rejuvenation is in the air, as our trees and flowers are in bloom each spring. The inspiration continues as NYC residents adopt a tree at the Forest Hills Tree Giveaway event, giving birth to new additions to an urban tree canopy. On Sunday, May 18 from 1 PM to 3 PM, citywide residents will line up in MacDonald Park on Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, and take home a tree or two among 200 free trees. Adopters will then plant their tree outside their house or building.

This bi-annual event, typically held in May and October, will be the sixth Forest Hills Tree Giveaway since 2011, and bring the total quantity of adopted trees to 1,045. Adopters can select from 5 tree species, which consist of Tulip Trees, American Sweetgum, River Birch, Eastern Redbud, and Black Walnut. This will increase the diversity of trees donated at earlier events, such as Black Gum, Magnolia, Dawn Redwood, and Weeping Beech. Even though most trees will find their new homes locally, some will grant new life to other boroughs. 

The event is made possible through Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance (4BNPA)’s partnership with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and MillionTreesNYC. The lead sponsors are Toyota and TD Bank, and the lead partners are plaNYC, NYC Parks, and NYRP. A supporting sponsor is jetBlue Airways. Volunteers will be derived from Rego-Forest Preservation Council (RFPC), Trylon Vet Care, Forest Hills Jewish Center, the Forest Hills Green Team, and the Compost Collective.

NYRP began coordinating tree giveaways in 2008. As of 2011, 4BNPA had the mission of advocating for landmarks and curbing overdevelopment, but began realizing how environmental preservation is a significant complement to the city’s architectural achievements. The organizations’ relationship would then begin.

Extreme weather patterns intensified over the last few years, as evident by the 2010 macroburst, Hurricane Irene, and Hurricane Sandy. This caused numerous trees to succumb within seconds, and a single characteristic that vanished was the physical reminders of what people grew up around and developed an attachment to. Despite loss, it emphasized the benefits behind preserving mature trees and planting new ones. Trees enhance property values and character, mark a community’s history, offer a serene setting, capture stormwater, reduce runoff, filter and cool the air, and conserve energy, among numerous benefits.

The Forest Hills Tree Giveaway’s volunteers and tree adopters consist of new faces and close followers, as well as varying tree species among events. Two characteristics which unify all events are community spirit and education. Volunteers Tara Levin and her husband Mark Levin adopted 9 trees over the years for their Rego Park apartment building and a nearby private park, and they naturally became tree stewards. Tara explained, “We are greening, and they are blooming and growing. A person who cares for trees has a positive personality. Most of our population likes trees, but a problem is a deficit of land to plant them, since we are covered in asphalt.”

Tree giveaways have become a tradition for all ages. “It is a great opportunity to meet new friends from children to seniors,” she continued. Her fond recollections are four young sisters who volunteered with their Newfoundland dog at their side, as well as triplet boys who asked many questions about adopting Black Walnut trees.

Last Saturday, she collaborated with volunteers to erect a promotional table on Continental Avenue, where passersby reserved trees in advance. She also displayed flyers in storefronts along 63rd Drive and at the library and Chabad House.

Forest Hills resident Michele Dore anticipates her first tree giveaway volunteer opportunity. She explained, “I am new in this wonderful neighborhood, and I am really excited to be a part of Michael Perlman’s team (4BNPA & RFPC). Greening the city is critical not only for appearances, but for our health.” Dore sparked the interest of her colleagues and her landlord. “I would be more than delighted if each of the 200 trees can find a good family to grow with.”

For tree adopters to acquire a relationship with their trees, trees are being named after local landmarks, streets, and notables by volunteer Steve Goodman, and certificates will be distributed. Adopters will be photographed with their trees, and nature-inspired artwork designed by Oliloli Studio and the Queens Paideia School will contribute to the event’s diversity.

  On May 18, those who wish to adopt a potted tree should line up earlier than 1 PM at MacDonald Park.
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A similar edition of this article appeared in Michael Perlman's column with the Forest Hills Times:

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