By Michael Coughlin Jr.
Tree Eastie, an organization that focuses on planting, ensuring the care and maintenance of, and educating residents about trees, has worked hard this year and will continue to help increase East Boston’s low tree canopy this fall.
Over the last two years, the organization has planted over 250 trees to help the neighborhood with the lowest tree canopy in the City. Now, this fall, Tree Eastie is slated to plant over 50 trees in the community.
These trees will be planted throughout the neighborhood at places like Memorial Park, the Martin Pino Center, the Belle Isle Marsh, and Excel Academy.
Moreover, Tree Eastie will also plant 300 daffodil bulbs in the community this fall. “We’re just trying to add more color to the neighborhood, and it’s great to be able to see that,” said Tree Eastie Founder Bill Masterson.
In addition to all the plantings slated to take place, the organization is also running a tree giveaway for residents interested in planting trees in their yards.
This iteration of the giveaway comes off a successful one this past spring, which Masterson indicated had a great turnout.
“I’m hoping to be able to have a similar successful tree giveaway this fall,” said Masterson.
As part of the giveaway, residents can get a six to eight-foot tree to plant in their yards, and Tree Eastie will dig or help dig the hole for those who receive trees. If you want a tree for your yard, you can visit https://www.treeeastie.org/get-a-tree, click on “get a yard tree,” and fill out a Google form.
Masterson also mentioned that he would soon go through the neighborhood associations and their Facebook pages to let them know more about how residents can get involved with the tree giveaway.
While Tree Eastie has a lot of upcoming plans, the organization has also achieved some first-time successes this year.
For example, in June, Tree Eastie was granted permission by the City to cut tree wells along Meridian Street between Maverick and Central Squares. This enabled the organization to plant 11 trees in the area.
This was a big success; Masterson explained that, for the most part, Tree Eastie had been planting trees in wells that already existed.
With many of these existing wells filled, the organization sought more spaces to plant, especially in heat islands and places with heavy pedestrian traffic, like Meridian Street.
In what was a process that involved a lot of red tape, according to Masterson, the organization can now collaborate with the City to determine if an area can take on trees.
If a site can take on these trees, Tree Eastie contracts someone bonded by the City to cut the sidewalk to create wells and plant trees.
“I think it’s great for us to be able to now be more selective on where the trees are going to be planted as opposed to just putting them into empty tree wells,” said Masterson.
Along with cutting tree wells, Tree Eastie also had another first this year, in which it collaborated with Boston Public Schools (BPS) to plant five trees at the Mario Umana Academy.
Masterson indicated how important it was to get trees in some of the schoolyards around the neighborhood to add shade for the kids.
“If I can find the right principal to work with to be able to plant trees on the campus, I’m really looking to do that,” said Masterson.
While all the planting done by the organization is essential, another significant aspect of Tree Eastie is educating residents about the importance of trees and how they can get involved.
This summer, the organization distributed over 2,000 brochures to residents, leaving door hangers on folks’ doors highlighting how vital trees are and how to get involved.
For example, trees reduce noise pollution, purify air, improve property value, and even help reduce stress.
Additionally, residents can get involved in several ways, like the previously mentioned tree giveaway or other initiatives.
For example, Tree Eastie has an Adopt-a-Tree program where residents can sign up to water trees near their homes. Especially now, with over 250 trees planted, the need to maintain them is more important than ever. The organization will even provide water bags for the trees if they do not already have one.
“It’s great that we’re putting trees in the ground and adding more trees, but you really got to take care of the trees that are there right now because if you don’t take care of them, they’re going to die,” said Masterson.
To learn more about the program or to adopt a tree, visit https://www.treeeastie.org/get-involved and click the Adopt a Tree box.
Moreover, residents can get involved by requesting a street tree be planted in front of their house through 311, and in areas where a group of residents wants trees, you can get signatures together to plant multiple trees in an area.
Along with all the planting, first-time successes, and educational work Tree Eastie has done, it has also accomplished other things this year through partnerships.
Tree Eastie, in conjunction with Eastie Farm’s Teen Climate Corps, had over 60 new street trees watered weekly. The organization’s volunteers also took care of fruit trees in the Rockies Urban Wilds, helping to distribute fresh cherries, pears, and apples to the community through Eastie Farm.
Tree Eastie has also received funding from organizations like DraftKings, TD Bank, and more to make many of these activities possible, which the organization is grateful for.
Even though Tree Eastie has made tremendous strides this year to bolster East Boston’s tree canopy, it is always looking for people to get involved.
If you want to learn more about Tree Eastie’s mission and how to get involved, volunteer, or donate, check out its entire website at https://www.treeeastie.org/.