Little Forest aims to educate and beautify Portsmouth Village

The Little Forest in development behind the Seniors Centre. Photo via the Seniors Association.

A new Little Forest in Portsmouth Village will provide education, beautification, and a haven for wildlife and indigenous plants. The initiative is a collaboration between the Seniors Association Kingston Region and Little Forests Kingston, and aims to help the land remember how to thrive.

According to a release from the Seniors Association, the project involves a proven method of soil preparation and the planting of dense, fast-growing, native plants, shrubs, and trees. The project’s aim is to improve the quality of the air, provide food for birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects and cool the building and surrounding neighbourhood.

“The Association’s initiative marks a significant step towards promoting canopy growth in the region, reducing the carbon footprint of The Seniors Centre,” said Don Amos, Executive Director of the Seniors Association.

Seniors Association staff first met with members of Little Forests Kingston and City of Kingston staff to discuss developing the land in August 2022. According to the release, community workshops were held in October and November last year followed by planning meetings in January 2023 to submit plans to the City of Kingston for approval to start preparing the land in the Spring/Summer of 2023.

After a year of preparation, more than 2,000 trees and shrubs were planted over the last two weeks by more than 80 volunteers and experts, as well as two classes from Calvin Park Public School, the Seniors Association shared. Work continues this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, from 1 to 4 p.m., with volunteers mulching and measuring the newly planted trees. For the next few years, the success of the forest will rely heavily on the care and support of these volunteers to keep it healthy, thriving and growing, according to the release.

Jean Lawson, Volunteer Director at the Seniors Association, shared her enthusiasm for the project.

“This project is more than just a beautification effort for Portsmouth Village; it’s an educational opportunity. With planned tours and engagement with school groups, and informative signage in the Little Forest area, we’re providing valuable knowledge to community members and our active seniors,” she said.

The City of Kingston generously supported the project by providing expert staff and essential materials, the Seniors Association noted. Little Forests Kingston, using a unique method for soil preparation and planting dense indigenous plants, shrubs, and trees, has played a crucial role in reviving the land’s natural ability to flourish, according to the release.

“This Little Forest will serve as an urban oasis and a sanctuary for community members. It’s an educational resource for school children and a haven for birds, insects, and small animals. We’re also looking forward to the natural cooling effect of the tree canopy on our building in the future,” Lawson added.

Image via the Seniors Association.

Forests are not simply congregations of trees but rather complex communities of plants interwoven with intricate networks of relationships among various organisms such as animals, fungi, birds, insects, bacteria, and even humans. According to the release, the Seniors Association, in collaboration with Little Forests Kingston, has offered significant benefits to the residents of the Portsmouth area through the planting of the Little Forest.

The Seniors Association is a member-owned, volunteer-driven organization and the central body for coordinating activities, providing services, and representing the interests of seniors throughout the greater Kingston area. With more than 5,000 members, it operates from The Seniors Centre at 56 Francis Street, Kingston.

Little Forests Kingston, with its collaborators, is working to bring 3-30-300 tree equity to Kingston: every child can see three trees from their window, live in a neighbourhood with at least 30 per cent quality canopy, and live within 300 metres of a quality greenspace.

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