Gloversville, New York, located in Fulton County halfway between Albany and Utica, was a recipient of a 2018 NYSUFC Arbor Day Grant. These grants are meant to kick-start community and urban forestry programs. Over the course of three events held in April, May, and June, 2018, the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (GHNIC) planted twelve trees in celebration of Arbor Day. Through these events, more than two dozen community members were involved, the public learned more about urban forestry through four stories in local newspapers, and community members expressed interest in forming an urban forestry committee.
Since originally applying for the $1000 grant, the City’s tree planting project underwent two significant shifts. The first was a shift in location. Though they had originally sought to plant trees along land-banked parcels, GHNIC folks later decided that planting trees in the “asphalt desert” that surrounds the Gloversville Farmers Market Pavilion in the heart of downtown was a better way to showcase the benefits of trees in a highly visible part of the city.
Given the allotted budget, GHNIC reps decided to plant four hybrid Freeman maples (Acer x fremanii ‘Sienna Glen’), two in each of two raised beds that would demarcate a boundary between the parking area and the vending area of the market square located one block west of Main Street. This is where the weekly City of Gloversville Farmers Market is located as well as several community events.
GHNIC Executive Director Gregory Young, Board Chair Vince DeSantis, Treasurer Trisha Rogers-Bryns, and Secretary Jerry Ryan scheduled the first event for Friday, April 27 (Arbor Day), 2018. In the lead-up to the event, GHNIC received coverage for the initiative in both local newspapers. However, by the Monday prior to this event, the Gloversville Department of Public Works (GDPW) had not yet received permission from Dig Safely New York to excavate the asphalt from the site of the raised beds.
In order to allow tree planting to move forward on the publicized day, Board Chair Vince DeSantis proposed a preliminary planting. He purchased three flowering pear trees, one for each of three pads at the end of the Farmers Market Pavilion, and agreed to contribute to cover the costs of this additional planting. GDPW cleared out stumps and debris and laid down fresh soil and compost in each of the three pads. Because of their assistance, digging was very easy. With approximately 12 volunteers showing up to dig, the entire planting took only 20 minutes.
The following week, with Dig Safely NY clearance, the DPW excavated the asphalt from the planting area and brought in fresh soil. On May 18th, GHNIC held its second tree planting event, once again with about a dozen volunteers. (Five were repeat volunteers and seven were new.) With bigger holes needed to accommodate the 7-year-old Sienna Glen Freeman maple trees and an additional tree to plant, the planting took about an hour.
At this event, the tree vendor informed GHNIC that he had five evergreen trees that he wanted to donate. As a result, the group scheduled a third tree planting in a little over a month to be held at land bank properties on Park Street on Friday, June 1st, once again meaningfully involving the public.
Though there has not yet been an official meeting of the Gloversville Urban Forestry Committee, GHNIC has collected contact information from planting event attendees and has been receiving signups from members of the public because of media attention the events received. At the first meeting, the group will determine its objectives and means to accomplish them. Potential projects of the Committee include a tree inventory, incentivized homeowner planting program, and seeking other funding opportunities.