Greening of Detroit plants tree to celebrate 25 years

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The Greening of Detroit celebrated 25 years of revitalization in Detroit on Thursday with a tree planting at the nonprofit's first planting site 25 years ago.

About a dozen supporters gathered on East Larned Street at the Greening of Detroit Park to mark the anniversary by planting a 12-foot horse chestnut near the road.

Greening president Rebecca Salminen-Witt said all the trees that stood around the group Thursday were planted by the Greening of Detroit some 25 years ago. The park they were standing in had nothing but grass and four sidewalks 20 years ago, she said.

“So everything that you see behind you growing in this beautiful park is also a testament to what a 20-year-urban forest can look like,” she said. “It feels like a special full circle moment to me to come back to the place where it all started and to keep on taking care of the urban forest.”

Detroit lost more than 500,000 trees between 1950-1980 due to attrition, disease, and urban growth.

This year a total of 4,000 trees will be planted across Detroit by the Greening to reduce storm water runoff in high-flood neighborhoods, bringing the total number of trees planted by the organization to 89,000.

The Greening of Detroit has grown from a small tree planting organization to a full-service, nonprofit environmental agency, officials said.

Since its inception, it has exposed more than 14,000 children to environmental and nutrition education, trained more than 618 adults in green jobs, supported 1,514 family and community gardens and trained 304 citizen foresters.

This year the nonprofit also started using new technology to track every tree it plants.

It has uploaded 12,000 trees to Open Tree Map, a new software technology that calculates the environmental and economic value of trees, Trish Hubbell, marketing director for The Greening of Detroit, said.

Open Tree Map Detroit will provide an individual analysis of each tree, educate residents about the environmental and economic benefits of trees, and allows users to explore nature in their city, official said.

Tree plantings are scheduled every Saturday (with the exception of Memorial Day weekend) through mid-June.

Anyone interested in volunteering can register online at by clicking on "Get Involved" or contact The Greening of Detroit at (313) 237-8733.