Sixteen preschoolers from Dartmouth enjoyed the morning sun Tuesday by planting trees at Shubie Park.
The park is still recovering from extensive damage caused by Hurricane Juan in 2003, but a little army of four-and five-year-olds came, shovels in hand, to lend a helping hand.
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The Bedford Horticultural Society donated some of the tree seedlings to Dartmouth Pre-School and staff decided this was a chance to teach kids about the importance of trees and the role they play for the environment.
Halifax Regional Municipality Coun. Gloria McCluskey, who represents Dartmouth Centre, contacted Shubie Park representatives on behalf of the preschool and the park set the kids up with a location needing new trees.
Courtney Richards, five, was happy to help.
“I think it’s going to grow oranges or apples,” Courtney said, talking about the white spruce she just planted.
Her planting partner A.J. Burt, also five, was happy to build future homes for “birds and squirrels.”
He added the animals will say “thank you for the tree you planted.”
The site of the tree planting was near Waverley Road, across a pedestrian bridge and down a path.
There is a small opening along the path that shows part of the forest destroyed by Hurricane Juan. Much of the debris was left behind to let nutrients return to the soil.
The kids had to use small shovels and navigate around dead trees to find a good place to plant.
A.J. said it was his first time planting trees, but knows he wants to do it again.
This is an encouraging sign for Pat Hogan, the director of the preschool. While most of the children planting trees weren’t born when Hurricane Juan hit HRM, Hogan said they understand how damaging storms can be.
“It’s not like they’re talking about planting trees,” Hogan said. “They are planting trees, which is how they learn — by flinging dirt.”