The St. Louis region gained 500 native trees Sunday. People gathered in public spaces stretching from north St. Louis County to the south side of St. Louis, to plant the trees as part of “Plant for Peace.” The initiative was organized by the office of St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
Reed said his office wanted to do something that would bring communities together after Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
The idea, said Reed, was to create a physical marker to symbolize peace and unity.
“As our community continues to grow past this point, we have a marker or a story that we can tell, that we took part in planting that tree. That was the point where we came together and unified; came together as one community,” Reed explained.
Reed spent Sunday traveling from planting spot to planting spot, including a stop at City Garden Montessori School in south St. Louis City where a co-ed scout troop from the Baden-Powell Service Association planted five trees.
The 66th Confluence troop planted trees at a total of three schools Sunday, with the 5 to 7-year-old Otters taking charge of City Garden.
“Since we do a once-a-month service project anyway, this was the perfect opportunity for us to provide our service for the school, for the community, for our neighborhood here,” said troop leader Elke Overton. Her children also attend City Garden School.
The scouts planted the trees in the school’s rain garden, a wild green space that already had a few trees. The new additions included a redbud, a river birch, a white oak, a bald cypress and a Kentucky coffee tree.
Overton said the children would monitor the trees for the next year in order to earn their nature badge.
“It makes me feel good to see all the kids working together with the adults, getting down and planting the trees,” Reed said. “When they come back 10, 15 years from now they’re going to see the trees and they’re going to have a story to tell.”
Trees were planted in about 90 locations in the city and 50 spots in the county Sunday, with a special focus on north St. Louis County. The trees were donated by Forest ReLeaf of Missouri.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.