Planting trees and picking garbage were the Saturday morning activities for many hundreds of people in Guelph, as a forest grew, and greening ground everywhere was cleared of litter.
Armed with spades, buckets and saplings, a crowd gathered on a flat, choice planting ground near Guelph Lake, adding to what will grow into Rotary Forest. This was ‘getting dirty’ time for kids, and the atmosphere was one of purposeful joy for everyone.
“I’m so proud of her,” said Amberley Arnold, as her three-year-old daughter Islay-Joy planted a tiny tree. Moments earlier the little girl was sitting in the planting hole and got the ‘all-good’ from her mom.
“We enjoy the Guelph Lake area as a family and it just feels right to put something back,” Arnold said, adding she will definitely bring her daughter back to the site in the distance future to see how the Rotary Club of Guelph-sponsored forest grows.
Jim Wadleigh is on the Rotary Forest committee and has been a key organizer of the annual planting event for many years.
“It’s a great turn out and wonderful weather,” Wadleigh said, as he went from group to group, family to family taking group photographs for posterity. “The support is growing every year. Word just keeps spreading.”
This is the eighth year of a project aimed at covering a large tract of former agricultural lands in trees of all kinds. Wadleigh pointed to Watson Road, about 250 meters from the planting site.
“In four more years the project will be complete, right to the that road,” he said. “And that will coincidentally mark the 100th anniversary of Rotary Club of Guelph.
Don Parr, 86, arrived at the site earlier, got his trees in the ground and was walking out just as the army of planters began streaming in. He has planted every year since the new forest began.
“I believe in the project,” said Parr, a Rotarian. “It’s very worthwhile for the future, and important for conservation. I love to the see the kids out planting with their families. It’s just a delightful event.”
Also landing the day after Earth Day, Guelph Clean and Green Community Cleanup saw hundreds of people scattered in all parts of the city, armed with bright orange garbage bags, hands clothed with gardening gloves.
Many participants, including small children, were shocked and saddened to see how much garbage litters the ground in the city.
“It’s just yucky,” said Rhiannon Anthony, 9, while picking up trash with her sister Ffion and mom Jennifer Hundleby-Anthony along Edinburgh Road. “It’s gross. I don’t like to see garbage on the ground.” She said glass and cigarette butts were the worse.
Hundleby-Anthony said it gives her and her daughters a good feeling to help clean up their beloved community.
“It does feel like we are making a difference,” she said. “Any little bit you can do makes a difference.”
Along the busy Hanlon Expressway, Rob Wagner and Joanna Sawicki were filling garbage bags with more gross litter.
“I’ve lived in Guelph for a number of years and I really want to see the city kept clean,” Sawicki said. “When I see this area get messy, I want to help clean it up for everybody.”
Wagner and Sawicki, in their second year of the cleanup, said they are always shocked by what they find, and always disheartened to see so much litter.
“People throw out all sorts of household trash,” Wagner said. “It’s just people being lazy.”
Cleanup participants gathered in Riverside Park for a much deserved barbecue at noon on Saturday.