40 Years – 40 Trees

Gina Pannunzio, Stephanie Marshall and Ian Naisbitt

“Trees indeed have hearts.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Essex County Nature and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) created a tree planting project to help the WindsorEssex Community Foundation (WECF) celebrate their 40th Anniversary. Our idea was to plant 40 native trees in a natural area or park in the Detroit River Watershed. Gina and I filled out the WECF application form for funding and we were successful → 40 Years – 40 Trees was a GO!

“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.”

~George Nakashima

We contacted the City of Windsor through the Parks Department and requested their help in finding an appropriate site for planting. After meeting at Derwent Park in East Windsor, it was agreed the plan would work there. It would include a grove of trees at the north end of the future perimeter trail and trees would be planted alongside the trail as it followed the perimeter fence. We scheduled Saturday, 13 May, 2023 for the event.

“Walk in nature and feel the healing power of the trees.”

~A. William

There were 45 community volunteers that included: children, their parents and grandparents, the staff and Board members of ERCA and the WindsorEssex Community Foundation. They planted 40 very large native trees. How large were they you ask, the largest trees we have ever planted! What a surprise it was to see them all planted and they looked fantastic, you could see every one of them, even the ones on the other side of the park. Fortunately for us the City had the holes for the trees augured beforehand. Refilling the holes with soil and mulching the base of the trees had us on our hands and knees. Our Community Partnership included: City of Windsor, Essex County Nature, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, How To Volunteers, Rotary Club and the WindsorEssex Community Foundation. Some of the species of trees we planted were: Red Maple, Burr Oak, Downy Serviceberry, American Elm, and Honey Locust.

“Touching the Earth compares to having Harmony with Nature.”

~Lakota Proverb

Two Weather forecasts:

  • Mainly cloudy. High 24 C. Humidex 25. UV index 9 or very high.
  • High 24 C. UV 3 out of 10. Slight 15% chance of a rain shower.

Winds 10 to 15 km/h. Mr. Beaufort calls that a “light to gentle breeze.”

As it turned out, the weather was great for tree planting. A few sprinkles, nothing major and the temps did reach the low twenties, our brows were damp with sweat.  

“Those who plant trees love others besides themselves.”

~Thomas Fuller

The WECF 40th Anniversary Commemorative Trees will benefit our community:

  • First and foremost, these trees will help address two critical issues of today, climate change and biodiversity. The trees will help combat climate change by absorbing and storing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They will also provide shelter and food for the biodiversity of the wildlife that live in the Detroit River Watershed. There are several Species at Risk in the Windsor-Essex Region that will use woodlands to survive and breed
  • Urban trees will improve air quality by releasing oxygen back into the air. They will clean the air by filtering and trapping dust, pollen and other tiny particles in their leaves, branches and trunk bark.
  • Trees retain stormwater runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down their branches and trunks to be absorbed by the earth below. This prevents stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants to the Detroit River. Trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.
  • The 40th Anniversary Grove will have a cooling effect on the land and air shaded by the future canopy provided by these trees

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most meaningfully, trees naturally add spiritual value to a local community.

The connection humans have with trees touches the soul. Essentially, trees make people feel good. City dwellers value the view of a tree outside their windows.

Urban trees calm people during their commute to work. The WECF’s Commemorative Grove will help to improve the mental health of the people who visit this peaceful, natural setting and reflect on their life with the help of the trees.

“Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”

~Huron Proverb

Our project will create a legacy in the Windsor-Essex Region. Mature trees will be spreading their seeds over time and eventually nature will select which species will survive on the site. Despite insect infestations, diseases or major storms, some of the trees in the grove will live for hundreds of years. Naturalisation will run its course and the 40 trees will disperse their seeds and the natural area will live on in perpetuity.

“Listen to her – our Earth, our Mother; listen to what she is saying.”

~Mohawk Proverb

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, we have planted 40 more trees to help heal Mother Earth.

“Nature is never a place to get to, it is around us always, it is our home.”

~Lakota Proverb

We acknowledge that the Detroit River Watershed is in the traditional and ancestral territory of The Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa and the Potawatomi Peoples. We recognise that Indigenous Peoples had an original connection with their ancestral land. 

We are dedicated to learning about and helping First Nations to protect, preserve and restore their ancestral lands and waters. We value and respect the contributions and relationships of the Indigenous Peoples in their ancestral territory.

Get Involved!

From tree plantings and clean ups, to advocacy and education programs, CLICK HERE to find out how you can be involved with protecting and enhancing the Detroit River.