By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Volunteers planted 41 trees at Four Mile Run Park for a TD Tree Days event on Oct. 5 to help restore Alexandria’s tree canopy and transform an underused portion of the park.
TD Bank donated the trees to the TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria and partnering organization Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation. About 40 staff and volunteers from both organizations, in addition to local TD bank employees, attended the tree-planting event.
“You all are really making a difference today and for the future,” Mayor Allison Silberberg told volunteers at the event. “Generations to come will thank us.”
Silberberg has supported increasing green spaces across Alexandria since she was sworn in as mayor in early 2016. One of her goals is to increase Alexandria’s tree canopy from 34 percent to 40 percent in the next 10 years.
This is the second year that TreeStewards has been selected as one of 18 organizations across the United States to participate in TD Tree Days. Last year, volunteers planted more than 30 trees at Alexandria’s Dora Kelley Nature Park. Since it was founded in 2010, TD Tree Days has brought more than 285,000 trees to communities in the United States and Canada.
The trees planted at Four Mile Run Park will enhance the tree canopy, provide educational and nutritional opportunities and complement the planned community garden space along Dale Street, according to Kurt Moser, president of the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation.
The “food forest” is composed of native fruit and nut bearing trees, including pawpaw, pecan, American persimmon and American chestnut. When the trees are further developed in a few years, park visitors will be able to pick and eat the produce.
“Kids at the school, kids at the rec [center] can come down here and learn about nutrition,” Moser said. “They can have some free berries, have some free pawpaws, you know, and kind of understand that our food actually comes from plants, not from stores.”
The food forest is the first step in a series of projects that will transform the section of Four Mile Run Park that runs along Dale Street behind the Chick Armstrong Recreation Center. A fence and a drop off divide this portion from the other 50 acres of the park.
The Four Mile Run Conservatory is in the planning stages of building a community garden at the base of the park. Moser said the long-term goal was to have a path that started in the community garden, led through the food forest and connected to the rest of the park at a bridge.
“This will become more of an access point, as opposed to what it is now, which is a barrier,” Moser said. “I think it will be spectacular when that all comes through.”