Keepin’ it shady in Durham

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

The year 2014 is going to go down in history as the Year of the Tree in Durham.  Certainly there have been other years when trees were planted, groves were protected, institutions to care for trees created.  But this year is different.  This year we’ve got Trees Across Durham and with your help, we can ensure that Durham is shady for generations to come.

Trees Across Durham is a coalition dedicated to making Durham a healthier and greener community now and in the future through the planting and protection of trees, the education of tree caretakers and the general public about how to maintain healthy trees, and the measurement and communication of the benefits trees provide to our environment and community.​  We are off and running with activities and programming to reach these goals, and we need your help.

One of those initiatives is our new Tree Keepers program.  Tree Keepers are citizens with some basic training in tree care who can help the city and county take care of our public trees.  We are holding our first Tree Keeper training on Feb. 7 and 8, and it is open to anyone with a passion for trees, regardless of their background in tree maintenance. 

Participants will learn a variety of techniques to help expand, maintain, and protect Durham's trees. Topics include tree biology, planting, maintenance, basic identification, tree insects and disease and tree protection methods. After completing the training, participants are expected to provide 15 hours of volunteer tree care during the next 12 months as part of the Tree Keeper Volunteers.  This first training is limited to 25 participants and registration is required.  The cost is $25 and we have a limited number of scholarships available. For more information and to register, contact Pana Jones in Durham County Cooperative Extension ( or 919-560-0525).

Along with training Tree Keepers, we will be planting more than 500 trees in the next few months.  Most of the trees will be going in at Durham’s public elementary schools.  Trees bring so many benefits to school yards including cleaner air, noise abatement, visual stimulation, teaching opportunities, water filtration and shade (as the parent of a child at a year-round school, I take shade very seriously when school starts in the middle of July!).  Our goal is to plant trees at as many elementary schools as possible this planting season.  We will also be planting trees in city parks and at county libraries. We will need a lot of extra hands to help with all these plantings.  You can volunteer to help by visiting or contacting the City-County Sustainability Office at 919-560-7999.

Durham has been a designated Tree City USA for more than 30 years.  So many of us appreciate the beautiful trees that were planted more than half a century ago.  Please join the effort either through volunteering with Trees Across Durham or by planting and caring for your own trees.  We owe it to future generations to invest in our tree resources now so that Durhamites can enjoy those same benefits for decades to come.  Keep up with Trees Across Durham’s progress at or www.facebook/

Tobin Freid is the Durham city-county sustainability manager.  She can be reached at 919-560-7999 or