Cities are planting trees in streets and parks. Organizations are planting it in schoolyards and on institutional grounds. But only you can plant it on your own land. And sometimes this very young shoot will end up transforming your end of the street, your corner of an alley and, why not, your entire neighborhood.
At least that is what the Un Arbre pour mon quartier campaign, headed by the Société de verdissement du Montréal métropolitaine (SOVERDI) and the Regroupement des éco-quartier de Montréal, has been hoping for since 2013. This fall, the symbolic figure of 21,000e tree planted in Montreal soil will be reached, thanks to this program where each person can have an impact.
This difference, Robin Bournival and Izmir Alejandra Hernandez immediately felt it, when they planted a Royal Gala apple tree at the back of their yard two years ago, in the Saint-Michel district of Montreal.
“It’s a small gesture that doesn’t take much, that isn’t difficult to achieve, but that brings life back. The bugs return, the birds too, marvels Robin Bournival again. What freaks me out is that no one else does! », He adds with a big gesture to show the surroundings.
Indeed, if one place in Montreal needs greening, it is this alley filled with concrete, garages and abandoned tires. Even the courtyard of the duplex that the couple bought four years ago was a real backyard. scrap, with building materials, gallons of oil and gasoline. “It took us two years to clean everything up,” recalls Robin Bournival.
When ripe, the young apple tree should be four or five meters in height, and have branches of about the same width. “We’ll have to be careful that the apples don’t fall on the neighbor’s car,” observes Robin Bournival, laughing.
But it is not just apples that the apple tree will provide the surroundings. “A tree, in the middle of a heatwave, will reduce the temperature to close to 1 to 2 ° C,” explains Meggy Legault, a master’s student in urban forestry at the University of Montreal (she has no connection with the Un tree for my neighborhood). It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s huge, ”she adds.
The next step for the Bournival-Hernandez? Plant another “tree for my neighborhood” once the fence has been redone. “Maybe a tree that blossoms in the spring, big white flowers. Or another fruit tree. A plum tree, maybe, ”Robin Bournival mused aloud.
A proven initiative
Over the years, the Un Arbre pour mon quartier program has improved its way of doing things. The trees are partially subsidized by the City of Montreal, which makes them much cheaper than in a nursery, from $ 25 to $ 55 (compared to prices ranging from $ 60 to $ 100 for the same species in the nursery) .
Once purchased, the trees are distributed by the eco-districts of the different arrondissements, which also makes them easier to access. “The initiative aims to democratize the planting of urban trees, by making the tree accessible to citizens,” explains Dara Larfeuil-Peressini, project manager at SOVERDI and forest engineer.
The campaign’s website is full of information, from how to choose a tree to how to properly plant and care for it. If, despite a buyer’s best efforts, a tree does have difficulty, a one-year warranty is also in place.
It has been noticed that when people plant the trees themselves, they become more attached to them and take care of them.
Dara Larfeuil-Peressini, project manager at SOVERDI and forest engineer
Notice to leaf lovers: registration for the fall 2021 campaign ends on September 27 and the trees will be distributed in mid-October. Almost 70 tree species are offered – a record. “The key is the word ‘diversity’. Especially in urban neighborhoods, because we tend to do monocultures – you pass in a street and it is only maple trees, corded, on both sides of the street, specifies Meggy Legault. But trees do not all bring the same thing to a forest, ”she adds, welcoming the initiative.
Fall is the best season to plant a sapling, adds Jessyca Farrugia, communications manager at SOVERDI, because the sapling will be able to go dormant during the winter and will be watered by melting snow in the spring.
“Trees have many benefits, in addition to preventing heat islands and improving biodiversity,” believes Jessyca Farrugia. They create social links, they form screens between us and the street, they capture dust, they retain rainwater and prevent runoff … There are plenty of scientific studies that show how tree does us good. ”
Visit the A Tree for My Neighborhood campaign website