Leaving a green legacy: Volunteers plant 30 shade trees on South Street in Northampton

  • Virginia Rechtschaffen and Greg Kerstetter plant a tree on South Street in Northampton last Saturday. Volunteers planted about 30 trees along the street as part of an ongoing shade tree initiative in which some 2,000 sites citywide have been identified as prime locations for the planting of new trees. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ruthy Woodring, from left, Adaline Coates-Cooney and Jason Cooney plant a tree on South Street in Northampton, Saturday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 5/23/2017 9:16:20 PM

NORTHAMPTON —– South Street is about to get a little shadier. In a good way.

That’s because some 30 volunteers gave up part of last Saturday to plant 30 new shade trees along the busy road between South Park Terrace and Fort Street.

The plantings are part of an ongoing public shade tree initiative coordinated by Tree Warden Richard Parasiliti, the city’s Public Shade Tree Commission and Tree Northampton, a citizen-based nonprofit.

Parasiliti described the day as “a pretty great exercise in community effort between the city and volunteers.”

The South Street location was chosen after a 2016 public shade tree inventory conducted by the Kent, Ohio-based Davey Resource Group. The firm inspected the city’s existing 11,000 public shade trees and identified 2,000 sites for potential shade tree plantings.

The citywide planting initiative costs $74,650 and is funded through a $30,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation with the remainder covered by the city. The Department of Public Works provided trees, equipment, fertilizer and staff to aid in the planting efforts.

The shade tree inventory can be seen online at northamptonma.mytreekeeper.com where an interactive map shows planned and existing shade tree locations.

Parasiliti explains that because of the presence of overhead wires on South Street, the project needed trees that will not grow more than 25 feet tall. The trees also need to be durable against salt that is used to de-ice the road in the winter. Crabapple, hawthorn and tree lilacs were chosen from a list of noninvasive species approved by the tree commission.

The young trees, cultivated in an Amherst greenhouse over the winter, are now 6 to 7 feet tall.

Public Shade Tree Commission Chairwoman Lilly Lombard said the trees have already infused the neighborhood with a “feeling of promise and hopefulness.”

She adds that many people who plant the trees feel a personal stake in their neighborhood and community.

“People feel that they’ve left a legacy behind when they plant a tree,” she said.

Lombard cites many benefits of trees, such as shading pedestrian walkways, mitigating stormwater runoff and cleaning water and air through natural ecological processes. She also claims that the trees can even have physiological effects like slowing the speed of traffic, improving mental health and reducing crime.

An additional 30 trees are expected to be planted on South Street in the near future, from Fort Street to Old South Street.

Parasiliti notes that when it gets above 80 degrees, it becomes difficult to plant trees because of soil moisture loss. In the face of a record drought last summer, only 112 trees were planted out of a planned 200.

Since the start of the 2017 planting season, 45 trees have been planted in Florence and Northampton.

“If the weather holds out, we’ll be on track for 200 trees by the end of fall,” Parasiliti said.

The trees will be maintained — from watering to pruning — by volunteers from Tree Northampton.

Parasiliti remains optimistic about the initiative, claiming that with the benefits of the new shade trees, “Northampton is going to be a better place than it already is.”

Northampton residents who want to volunteer can visit Treenorthampton.org for more information.

Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy