The South Bronx is short on trees. But new saplings are growing in the borough following tree giveaways in Mott Haven and Melrose, both hosted by the New York Restoration Project. The Melrose site was the organization’s final stop in its first season back post-pandemic.
On May 21, the Restoration Project welcomed visitors at the New Roots Community Farm. The Melrose site completed the group’s string of spring giveaways across the city’s five boroughs, including a May 1 stop at the Bruckner Mott Haven Community Garden.
Michael Horwitz, who said he has worked with the Restoration Project since March, said that he’s glad to be back.
“Every tree that we had, someone signed up for. All of them, months ago,” said Horwitz, voicing the Restoration Project’s gratitude for partners that opened their sites for the giveaways. “And we’re excited to do it again as soon as we can,” he added.
Miriam Dawn Tabb, a Bronxite and volunteer coordinator at the New York Restoration Project’s Target Bronx Community Garden, attended the Melrose giveaway.
“I came to get three black gum trees, so I can plant one for the Carroll Place Neighborhood Association in memory of the people that died of COVID for 2022. In addition to that, the other one is for the Friends of Mill Pond Park, which is over there by the Bronx Terminal Market,” Tabb said.
“And the third one is for me,” she added. Tabb said she picked the black gum tree for its brightness, comparing the plant to a “horticultural orchestra.”
New York City relies on trees to make its streets more livable. They combat air pollution, absorb stormwater, and lower temperatures. And the South Bronx is in short supply.
According to the Nature Conservancy’s “The State of the Urban Forest in NYC” 2021 report, Community District 2 in the Bronx, an area that includes Hunts Point and Longwood, was the least tree-covered in the borough. The neighborhood had a canopy coverage of just 8.37% in 2017, although its coverage had increased significantly from 6.2% in 2010. In contrast, the Bronx had nearly three times the coverage at 24.79%.
Community District 1, encompassing Mott Haven, Melrose, and Port Morris, also fell far below the borough’s average canopy cover at 14.48%.
In February, the borough presidents joined forces to encourage Mayor Eric Adams to back a ‘Million More Trees’ program that would renew the 2007 to 2015 MillionTreesNYC initiative. The New York Restoration Project provided 250,000 trees throughout the original program.
Although the Restoration Project’s 2022 giveaway season is complete, the organization encourages those interested to sign up for its newsletter to keep abreast of its activities. The project also offers an events page; on June 4, the organization will host a composting workshop at the Paradise on Earth Community Garden in Morrisania.