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It's a partnership in Barrie that's making a huge difference for all of us!

And it's all about trees.

Living Green Barrie, the City of Barrie, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, businesses and ordinary volunteers like you and I... these are the community partners that make up the Urban Canopy Coalition. And what a contribution they are making!

Gwen Petreman heads up this coalition and is quick to point out the tremendous benefits of the cost-free efforts of the partnership.

Trees and gardens make a tremendous difference in the health of our community. A living tree absorbs up to 57,000 gallons of water a day, she says. Their roots absorb chemicals and fruit trees stimulate activities for bees resulting in increased pollination.

Trees purify the air; they help to reduce the negative effects of climate change. They positively affect our respiratory and cardiovascular health. Trees are a simple solution to the environmental ups and downs of drought and flooding caused by our uncertain climate these days. And planting native trees and plants make any project practically maintenance free. Planted in their natural environment, trees and plants need no maintenance.

Armed with all these reasons, volunteers have been planting trees and plants all over Barrie, protecting watercourses, stimulating water table retention, and increasing the environmental health of our city.

For instance, the Urban Canopy folks planted over 1000 native plants along the creeks at Queen's Park this spring. They also planted oaks, spruce, pines and tamaracks along the Huronia Buffer located between McConkey and Bristow streets in April. Earlier that month they planted weeping willows and shrubs to aid in soil retention at Sunnidale Park.

Volunteers who help in these projects tend to be different groups for each planting. They connect with Gwen through Living Green's facebook page... www.livinggreen.info. You can register as a volunteer on the website.

A month from today, October 5, volunteers will begin work on the Environmentally Protected Land at Loon Ave in the south end. They'll plant native saplings. Gwen pointed out that at the Huronia project, Barrie Chiropractic sponsored the final planting of 1000 trees. Their staff actually assisted in the planting, too.

She's looking for any level of corporate sponsorship from area businesses, and of course is always signing up volunteers.

A retired teacher, Gwen has turned her hand to writing children's books, usually tied into an environmental theme. She has self published some of her books, and sought excellent illustrators to make her words come alive. Her stories blend environmental realities to child empowerment for change.

Gwen, in keeping with her commitment to Living Green, is donating 10% of every book sale to the organization this fall.

She believes that children will be true game changers in environmental efforts like the Urban Canopy Coalition. She's always happy during a planting to see youngsters among the volunteers.

If contributing to the urban canopies in our community interests you, visit www.livinggreen.info or contact Gwen at gwen@livinggreen.info

October 5 is the next volunteer planting!

Thanks, Gwen! Thanks, City Forester Kevin Rankin. Thanks, Lake Simcoe Conservation!

And thanks, Aaron Reynolds, for excellent writing in my absence during August!

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