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Photo Essay: Stewardship work fosters environment and community in the Roxborough Greenbelt

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Watering a newly planted Silver Maple (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
Watering a newly planted Silver Maple (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
Red oaks on their way to a new home in the neighbourhood (photo credit - Lilly Noble)
Red oaks on their way to a new home in the neighbourhood (photo credit - Lilly Noble)
Planting native shrubs along the creek bank (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
Planting native shrubs along the creek bank (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
After planting picnic (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
After planting picnic (photo credit - Naomi Grant)
Newly planted (photo credit - Ellen Arteca)
Newly planted (photo credit - Ellen Arteca)
Waiting to be planted (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)
Waiting to be planted (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)
A job well done (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)
A job well done (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)
Coco log, two new fascines, and one sprouted facsine from previous fall - addressing erosion of the creek bank (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)
Coco log, two new fascines, and one sprouted facsine from previous fall - addressing erosion of the creek bank (photo credit - Junction Creek Stewardship Committee)

This is a story of regreening, love of place and nature, and the meaning of community.  

Continuing their stewardship work, Friends of the Roxborough Greenbelt led 5 work days this fall on two related projects:  working to address erosion along the banks of Junction Creek in the greenbelt, and filling in gaps in the neighbourhood’s urban canopy.

Erosion has been eating away at this section of the creek bank.  Straightened many years ago by the City, the creek is trying to return to its meandering route, but with houses in the way, there is no room for it to do so.  The erosion is aggravated by the end of life of the hybrid willows planted at the time the creek was straightened – with the loss of these trees, there is little to hold the bank in place.  In the worst sections, two or three metres of bank have been lost over the past decade, threatening the informal trail along its edge. 

Forty native shrubs and twenty-four native trees were planted along the bank this fall.  Their roots will help hold the bank together, and they will also provide shade for the fish in the creek and habitat for the animals in the woods.  Junction Creek Stewardship Committee helped in leading a bit of bio-engineering:  willow fascines staked into the creek bank.  If all goes well, they will take root.   A lot more time, muddy work, and a bit of experimenting will continue in these efforts to keep the creek bank from eroding away, in the least intrusive way possible.

There is physical satisfaction and companionship in this work, in addition to the knowledge of doing good for the earth.  People feel good getting up close with nature, and this work gets you right in the dirt, water, and branches.  Many different people came together to get the work done:  students, Pathfinder and scout groups, other stewardship groups, and neighbourhood volunteers.

For those from the neighbourhood, there is an added layer, not only because of the familiarity and love of place for a woods walked and known as part of daily life, but because this is a green space that was saved, at long odds, by their own efforts.  Trees are planted and grow bigger – and so does community.  Just as people have a need to connect with nature, they have a need to connect with each other, and to belong in their neighbourhood.  These things come together in the Roxborough Greenbelt, where neighbours meet casually on walks, work together on plantings and clean-ups, and hold neighbourhood events.

It is perhaps not surprising , then, that the activities of Friends of the Roxborough Greenbelt have spread out into the surrounding neighbourhood.  This fall saw the start of Neighbourwoods, a project meant to foster and grow the trees that are so much a part of the character of the neighbourhood, and that act as a bridge between natural spaces.  An informal survey was done of neighbourhood trees, gaps, and possible planting sites, and trees were offered to residents where gaps could be filled.  Twelve native trees were planted.  Further invitations have been sent out in the hope of filling more gaps next year.   It is a conscious recognition that together, private yards form common surroundings valued collectively and with a larger environmental value.  As such, helping a neighbour purchase and plant a tree is not only about individual benefit, but a larger gift enjoyed by anyone living or walking nearby.

 

-Naomi Grant is co-chair of Friends of the Roxborough Greenbelt

 


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