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Students and young people take back the term ‘tree hugger’ in a unique Forestry Stewardship Program on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Georgina to help the earth – and themselves.

The term tree hugger has taken on a bit of a negative connotation in the very long time since the first use of the word back in 1730. That’s when a group of Hindu people literally clung to trees to stop them from being cut down to build a palace. In modern times, though, tree hugger has been used to mean an overzealous or irrational attachment to trees or nature to protect it from harm. 

At ClearWater Farm young people have been taking back the term tree hugger in a very zealous and rational way!

Students in grades two and five from schools across York Region stepped into boots and donned gloves over four days this fall to experience first hand the multiple benefits of tree planting and forest restoration including; climate change mitigation and public health improvements. 

In all, about 525 native fruit trees, hardwoods and pines were planted and, as is the case in everything done here at ClearWater Farm, it’s the children who lead. With the help of two horticultural specialists and trees bought with a grant from York Region’s Greening Partnership Fund, these eco-champions got to investigate soil and planting conditions, tree types and how trees can positively affect the rest of the eco-system including our beloved neighbour, Lake Simcoe. Even more kids, ClearWater Farm summer campers, helped out through plant identification, forest clearing, planting and mapping.

Tree planting is an easy way that almost anyone can make a difference in our climate, land and water systems. There are just so many lasting benefits for our earth tied to planting trees but studies also show that being a tree hugger makes a difference in people with a feeling of calmness and emotional bonding. 

We think these little tree huggers certainly are on their way to making that term a positive one again while becoming the eco-champions of the future.

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