Mayor's Greening Initiative

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Logo Tree logo for Mayor's Greening Initiative

Trees add to the quality of life for those who live, work and play in our city

In 2011, the City Master Plan established a goal of increasing our tree canopy cover from 34.6% to 40%. In 2016, the Mayor’s Office, City Forestry Department, and nonprofit Friends of Grand Rapids Parks launched the Mayor’s Greening Initiative. This initiative serves as a way to engage the entire community in reaching the tree canopy goal.

Each year, the Mayor's Greening Initiative focuses tree plantings in an area of the city that has low tree canopy cover. Typically, the event includes a street tree planting project with volunteers, tree giveaway for private properties, and seedling giveaway for students, all in coordination with Arbor Day in April.

The initiative also includes recognizing a local honoree. Honorees are nominated and recognized by the community for their contributions to the city and neighborhood.

Mayor’s Greening Initiative 2021

The event will look slightly different this year due to COVID-19. Social distancing guidelines will be in place to protect neighbors and volunteers.

This year's area of focus is Plaster Creek Park and the Burton Heights Neighborhood.

2021 Dates

  • May 1: Small planting of 50 trees in and around Plaster Creek Park in recognition of Arbor Day
  • May 8: 100 Tree Giveaway for neighbors
  • October 8 - 9: Planting of 250 street trees in the Burton Heights neighborhood. Different shifts and planting zones will be assigned to volunteers

Want to volunteer at one of the tree plantings? Click here!

2020 Wrap-Up 

Even amidst the challenges of 2020, community members were able to safely take part in this project. It was restructured to take place over multiple days, register volunteers for designated shifts, and assign small groups to specific planting zones.

  • Date: October 8-9, 2020
  • Neighborhood: Garfield Park
  • Number of Trees Added: 500 (In celebration of the event’s 5th anniversary)
  • Honoree: Jesus Solis

2019 Wrap-Up 

  • Date: April 26-27, 2019
  • Neighborhood: Roosevelt Park
  • Number of Trees Added: 300
  • Honoree: Renee Rivera Cotto

2018 Wrap-Up 

  • Date: April 28, 2018
  • Neighborhood: West Grand
  • Number of Trees Added: 300
  • Honoree: Anthony "Tony" Torrone

2017 Wrap-Up 

  • Date: April 28, 2017
  • Neighborhood: Martin Luther King/Southeast End
  • Number of Trees Added: 380
  • Honoree: Albert Rice Jr.

Learn more about Arbor Day! 

  • Arbor means tree in Latin
  • Arbor Day is a legal holiday that began on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. On the first Arbor Day, approximately 1 million trees were planted
  • Arbor Day became a legal holiday on April 22, 1885 and is celebrated in every state in America
  • The founder of Arbor Day was J. Sterling Morton. Mr. Morton served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture
  • Arbor Day is a holiday that encourages people to plant and care for trees