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Philly Tree People Launch Pruning Club in the Riverwards

After noticing the lack of trees lining neighborhood streets, Nykia Perez and her two friends, Dina Richman and Jacelyn Blank, decided to dedicate their time to organizing and maintaining tree plantings within the communities they called home in the Riverwards.

  In 2007, the three friends started Philly Tree People, a nonprofit organization that has tasked itself with bringing more tree coverage to the city’s neighborhood, after they met at a Tree Tenders workshop through the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.

  “Nykia and I met at the East Kensington Neighbors Association meeting, we found a lot in common and she invited me to join her at Tree Tenders course,” Blank said. “We met Dina there and realized we were the only ones interested in planting in our general area.”

  Since then, the organization has joined 41 other tree tender groups with a total of 3,000 members in Philadelphia. According to PhillyTreeMap, there are 57,969 trees planted in the city.  Philly Tree People has planted 1,283 of those trees in the last five years with the help of volunteers in neighborhood-wide plantings.

  “Half of the process involves getting properly completed applications from property owners and organizing and preparing those for applying to get trees via the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society who then works with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to get the sites inspected by a city arborist,” Perez said.

  She added: “The next step is getting volunteers to attend our planting day event to get the trees in the ground which just takes a few hours out of someone’s day and includes free breakfast, lunch, and the opportunity to win the several raffle prizes.

  Philly Tree People recently held a Pruning Club meeting at the corner of York and Gaul across from the Mugshot Diner on Sunday May 22. Pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Pruning is necessary to remove diseased or storm-damaged branches, to thin the crown to permit new growth and better air circulation, to reduce the height of a tree, to remove obstructing lower branches or to shape a tree for design purposes.

  “We schedule 3-5 pruning events between spring and fall. It’s only a two hours event and we raffle a prize, said Perez.  

  With no experience needed, anyone is free to attend the event.

  “When people attend they learn the benefits of pruning trees. What we do is prune for damaged, diseased, or dead limbs,” said Blank. “We also prune for clearance for pedestrians on the sidewalk and cars parking on the street. Maintaining the overall health is important for health and aesthetics, but we want people to enjoy them instead of feeling they are a nuisance. “

  The Pruning Club has been active for four years and became one of the first started by a Tree Tender group.

  Along with the visual impact, the plantings have improved the community by bringing people together, reinforcing new relationships, and helping reduce crime and vandalism.

  “Being outdoors and involved in the the planting of trees, pruning of them, or help with pit maintenance gets people active and is overall healthy for the mind and body,” Blank said.

  The next Pruning Club meeting will be held Sun., June 26, 10AM-12PM at Belgrade and Tioga in Port Richmond. The following three meetings are set for Wed., August 3, 6:30-8:30PM at Marlborough and Wildey 19125; Thu., September 22, 6:30-8:30PM at Emerald and Dauphin 19125; and Sat., October 15, 10AM-12PM at Westmoreland and G St 19134. 

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