Plant One Million project flourishes at St. Hubert

  • St. Hubert High School President Francis A. Farrell welcomes everyone to a ceremony of the planting of the 300,000th tree on April 24.

  • Students read nature-inspired poetry.

  • Community members help dig during the event. The Plant One Million project is responsible for concentrated tree plantings. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

It was mild and sunny on April 25, a per­fect day for plant­ing trees. What bet­ter day to do it? After all, it was Ar­bor Day. What bet­ter place to do it than at St. Hubert High School for Girls on Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue? The sym­bol­ism was ob­vi­ous. St. Hubert’s is a school that has grown, shown re­si­li­ence and, yes, some tough­ness.

It was a great place to plant the 300,000th tree in a pro­gram geared to­ward plant­ing 700,000 more in and around Phil­adelphia. 

Stu­dents in their dark brown uni­forms lined up on the steps of the school’s main en­trance as dig­nit­ar­ies spoke about the need to re­store the re­gion’s trees that have been lost to dec­ades of de­vel­op­ment. Fri­day’s event was part of the Plant One Mil­lion pro­ject that is re­spons­ible for con­cen­trated tree plant­ings, ac­cord­ing to Pennsylvania Hor­ti­cul­tur­al So­ci­ety pres­id­ent Drew Bech­er.

One-hun­dred thou­sand of the pro­ject’s 300,000 trees have been planted in Phil­adelphia since 2011, said Joan Blaustein, dir­ect­or of urb­an forestry and eco­sys­tem man­age­ment at the Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation. Twenty-five per­cent were planted by vo­lun­teers, she ad­ded.

Kath­ryn Ott Lov­ell, St. Hubert’s ‘92, called for a show of “Bambi spir­it” from the ap­plaud­ing stu­dents. Lov­ell, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Fair­mount Park Con­servancy, is one of the Hubert’s alums who led the charge to save the school when the arch­diocese threatened to close it two years ago.

The school, she said, “is the per­fect place to plant these trees.”

“We are build­ing our city and plant­ing trees for a more sus­tain­able fu­ture,” she said.

Twenty-two trees were set to be planted Fri­day and the next day. April 25’s stars were two red­buds, trees that have showy purple-pink flowers each spring.

The new trees will be a great ad­di­tion to the many already on the school’s prop­erty, said Fran­cis Far­rell, St. Hubert pres­id­ent.

Part of the push to plant a mil­lion trees has been handled by North­east Phil­adelphia Tree Tenders, who have helped res­id­ents and vo­lun­teers put thou­sands of trees in­to the ground. 

Tree tender Has­an Ma­lik said Fri­day that the or­gan­iz­a­tion is get­ting ready for a fall tree giveaway. Res­id­ents can ar­range for free trees for the street or their yards, Ma­lik said.

Ap­ply­ing is easy. Vis­it www.treenorth­, or call Has­san at 215-694-9607. ••

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