An Estimated 40+ Community Members Show Up To Plant Native Trees And Shrubs Along The Avon River - Grant Haven
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An Estimated 40+ Community Members Show Up To Plant Native Trees And Shrubs Along The Avon River

An Estimated 40+ Community Members Show Up To Plant Native Trees And Shrubs Along The Avon River

Amanda Modaragamage

ReLeaf Stratford, a subcommittee of the Stratford and Area Master Gardeners Association, held a community volunteer event along the Avon River at McLagan Dr on June 3rd. 

“We could not take on this kind of project without volunteer support from our community. It was awesome that we had over 40 volunteers come out to plant last fall, and we hope many people will come to help us plant on June 3,” said Stratford and Area Master Gardener Co-ordinator Don Farwell in a statement released before the event on June 3rd. 

Luckily a similar turnout was seen at the June event, with over 40 volunteers showing up before 10 a.m. to help plant native trees and shrubs along the Avon River. 

“We’re delighted when we get volunteers. We have publications and email different groups, and then people who are on our volunteer list also get an email,” stated Elizabeth Spedaliere, a valued Stratford and Area Master Gardeners member. 

One notable volunteer was Mayor Martin Ritzma, who picked up a pick-axe and got to work on planting trees and shrubs in a seemingly tough area that was dry and un-watered; “it’s a hard area to dig, so he’s got his work cut out for, him,” one onlooking volunteer noted. 

A statement from the Stratford and Area Master Garner’s Association said in a statement, “This local environmental stewardship action is recommended in the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) Watershed Report Card. Riparian habitats support high numbers of wildlife species and provide an array of ecological functions, including water quality protection. Native trees and shrubs provide important biomass and biodiversity to create pollinator pathways.” 

Funding for the purchase of native shrubs is made possible with a grant of $5,200 from the Donald McTavish Conservation Fund held within the Stratford Perth Community Foundation and allows the subcommittee to purchase native trees and shrubs that support local wildlife and pollination. 

The committee noted that recommendations were also put into the funding proposal, and the UCTRA and the City reviewed that species list. “It is not always possible to get all the species you want, and then substitutions need to be made,” noted Nancy Burnette, Stratford and Area Master Gardeners member 

“We wanted to do a project that will help the river and help local biodiversity. Wildlife, such as deer, rabbits and birds, eat the berries of native shrubs. The caterpillars eat the leaves, then grow into butterflies, and then those caterpillars feed the birds, so it’s kind of like a whole connected ecosystem,” noted Elizabeth Spedaliere. 

The subcommittee hopes to run similar future programs to help care for and preserve the Upper Thames River. 

For more information about the ReLeaf Stratford Project, please visit their website at or visit them on Instagram and Facebook

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