Back to the Land

father and daughter planting trees - Vermont

Planting Trees Connects Us to the Natural World

As the climate changes, there’s a new urgency to restore and support our working landscape. Volunteers are joining with VLT to plant trees along streams, rivers, and wetlands. As saplings grow, they nurture birds and other animals, and their leaves and roots capture carbon. During floods, they absorb water, catch debris and slow runoff, and provide refuge for animals.

But there is another vital reason to come together to plant trees: it’s a powerful way connect with each other and the land. As VLT ecologist Allaire Diamond notes, “When you’re kneeling down with your hands in the soil, you’re seeing the land with new eyes.”

photo of someone picking up a bucket in a meadow with a spade nearby - Vermont

“I volunteered because I wanted to get more students connected physically to the earth and environment. Trees are such incredible organisms ecologically. Their benefits and longevity have a real lasting impact and that is an important factor as we look towards the future for climate solutions.” — Iris Hsiang, Essex High School student and Vermont Climate Council Member


“VLT gave a really great intro and helped bring the purpose behind what we were doing. Basically, tree planting is just digging holes and shoving saplings into them, but to understand the importance for golden winged warblers was huge. They require such a specific ecosystem and fly such a long way. It’s an amazing thing to help.” — Burt Marsh, volunteer at Nordic Farms, Charlotte; Community College of Vermont student


drone shot of people working along river - Vermont

“Getting out there and having some fun for a good cause is awesome. Just having a chance to go walk around the area with an expert was so cool.” — Henry Rabinowitz, volunteer at Jericho Settlers Farm, Jericho; Senior Operations Manager at Ursa Major Skincare


“Riparian tree plantings are a perfect opportunity to engage people in fairly straightforward work that has a direct impact, is visible, and offers tons of learning and connections.” — Justin Geibel, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Conservation Water Quality Project Manager


pair of hands patting down the soil after planting a sapling - Vermont

Story by Rachel Mullis. Photos by Caleb Kenna. A version of this story appeared in our 2020-21 Year in Review.