#PhillyTreeTrek: Eagles Player Connor Barwin Helps Fishtown Family Plant Tree
Connor Barwin isn’t your typical pro football player — He rides his bike or takes SEPTA to and from practice, he likes attending local indie rock concerts, and he dresses like a bit of a hipster. But what really sets Barwin apart from his peers is his commitment to building Philly’s neighborhoods in sustainable, green and forward-thinking ways.
That’s a big reason why Barwin got involved with TreePhilly, a program created by the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy. On Monday, May 9 Barwin visited a Fishtown family’s residence to plant a new tree in their yard.
“The purpose of TreePhilly is education and engagement,” Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Parks and Rec, said. “First and foremost, we want to educate residents about the importance of planting trees in your yards. We can plant street trees, but to really increase the city’s tree canopy we need to plant trees in yards. And then we engage residents by giving out free trees! We were so thrilled that this family here in Fishtown decided they wanted a tree.”
Enter the Vincenti family who live at 1850 Sepviva St. The Vincenti kids discovered the #PhillyTreeTrek initially discovered the social media contest, where participants followed Celebri-Tree, “Bud”, on social media as he “explored” the city in an effort to find his permanent home. Philadelphians entered the contest on Twitter, Instagram and Vine by posting why Bud should be planted at their home by Barwin.
“My children are social media mavens so they actually found out about it on Instagram and came running over to me,” Sandi Vincenti said. “So we started bombarding social media with all the cool stuff we are doing here [in our yard].”
The Vincentis originally moved to Fishtown almost 6 years ago. Since then, they’ve been investing into their yard with a series of projects. They lovingly call their yard the Child’s Inspiration Wildlife Discovery Garden and the idea is to use this yard as a demonstration site for children in the neighborhood to take environmental education programing that is being done in the neighborhood and come back to the yard to see it first hand.
“Last year we did some sub-irrigations systems, this year we’re going to look at aquaponics, like fish and plants, and looking into edibles like dandelions and other weeds you think are bad, but are actually super awesome,” Vincenti said. “This really kind of emphasizes some of the work we’re doing. We’re trying to encourage children around the neighborhood to become nature stewards.”
A crowd gathered in the Vincenti’s yard as Barwin arrived on the scene. The Eagle, who towered above most in attendance, helped plant Bud the tree, assisted by local children.
“We’re just trying to increase the tree coverage of Philadelphia,” Barwin said. “It’s been a great couple of months of planting trees, and I’m excited to be able to come to Fishtown and plant one more. Just the fact that we had this event shows that we are in the right direction in Philly as far as trees coverage goes… With climate change and everything going on, the more trees the better, especially in cities.”