Community comes together for tree planting at Eganville and District Seniors

Eganville – On a beautiful May afternoon, students, volunteers, community members and seniors came together as 12 fruit trees were planted on the grounds near the Echo Centre and Fairfields as part of an ongoing project of community engagement and inclusion.

“The whole intent of this project is to connect communities,” said Kayla Menkhorst, the executive director of the Eganville and District Senior Needs Association. “This is connecting green communities.”

It is part of an overarching project to look at connecting communities which includes active living through an outdoor recreation space and will also soon include an accessible walkway. On a sunny Monday afternoon, Grade 5 and 6 students from St. James School, Eganville, representatives from Tree Canada, volunteers from the Eganville seniors’ organization, volunteers from the Eganville and Area Horticultural Society, representatives from the LCBO and Home Depot and other volunteers joined together in teams to plant the 12 trees around the plot of previously vacant land. They formed into teams with students on each team to plant the trees under the watchful supervision and guidance of experienced horticulturalists.

Joe Yaraskavitch, a forestry specialist with Tree Canada, said events like this are great to bring the community together. While Tree Canada provided the grant, the funding for this particular project came from the LCBO.

“Lots of companies want to provide funding and this brings groups together with a plan,” he said.

“And this is a great project in terms of community involvement,” he said. “It is very visible.”

The particular grant for this project is for edible food, he said.

“Planting trees is a great idea anytime,” he added.

Trees Canada has worked since 1992 to grow Canada’s tree canopy through greening programs, research and engagement efforts, he explained.

“We are the only national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments,” he said.

Ms. Menkhorst explained this is a part of the process to utilize a portion of land owned by the Seniors group and Fairfields near the facility. When finished it will connect residents on the lower streets near the building to the hub at the Echo Centre/Fairfields, while also providing for a place of exercise and enjoying some good fruit. As with most aspects of the organization, there is a strong volunteer component and all of the planting was done by volunteers.

“The vision is to be able to create a community hub with the community involved in this planting,” she said.

The fruit-bearing trees will be available for the community, those at Fairfields and students at St. James to enjoy.

“It is getting everyone of all ages and demographics involved,” she said. “This is an all inclusive coming together.”

The plot of land is for the community to use and eventually will also house the lending hub, Ms. Menkhorst said.

“This is open to all, so anyone can come,” she stressed. “When the trees start producing, anyone can pick the cherries, apples and pears.”

This is the first step for this garden and she said there are plans to include more indigenous plants as well.

Volunteer Cam Sauve is active at the Echo Centre and spearheaded this application for a grant through Trees Canada for the project. He said having the trees on the property is something everyone can enjoy.

“The fruit we are hoping will be used in the kitchen at Fairfields, by the students, anyone in the community,” he said.

Hard at work helping plant a tree with a young helper, he said it is good to see so many participants come out.

“It is good to see a nice mix of volunteers,” he remarked.

This is just one part of the plan for this property and when it is completed it will provide a great access point as well as a nice orchard, he said.

“It does a lot for the community in giving access to seniors,” he said. “When the walkway is built it will help a lot for the seniors to be able to use it in wheelchairs or to go for walks.”

While it will take about three years or more for the trees to be ready to bear fruit, the landscape of the lot was already changed dramatically with the dotting of trees on the property. Mr. Sauve said the crucial watering will be done with a cart which can be pulled along behind a tractor.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader