LEAF Celebrates Toronto Trees

With snow-covered yards and leaves yet to bud, this isn't the time of year most of us turn our attention to the trees, but for LEAF, that's exactly what they did Wednesday night at the Gladstone. For the third straight year Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (yeah, I think the acronym LEAF came first) held their annual celebration. After all, you gotta do something when you're not out planting trees.

Special guests included Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone and councilor Joe Mihevc, with good ol' Mayor Miller sending in a video message (he was in Switzerland with 39 other big city mayors fighting global warming). It was obvious the city enthusiastically supports LEAF, and is apparently getting ready to announce plans to plant (and prune) a whole lot of trees in the coming years.

The big event featured music, food and silent auctions, but it's safe to say the walking tree stole the show.

LEAF Tree Man Button Maker

His sign said "LEAF ME" and the guy dressed up as a tree meant it. Joined by several other members of the Clay and Paper Theatre, green leaves aplenty were available to write wishes on, and in between sips of his beer (through a straw), the Tree Man happily accommodated people with leaves to hang.

Not lost in the shade, the button-making station stayed popular all night as well. Each of the native tree species LEAF plants had a personality description, so attendees channeled their horoscope (crossed with their inner tree) to declare they were a Mountain Ash. Or a Beech. And so on. Mostly it was fun to use crayons again to decorate the buttons before they were pressed into the night's top fashion accessory.

The event was, by all measures, a success for LEAF. At least $7500 was raised to support their tree planting and other good works, and there was enough discussion of trees Wednesday night to keep them on our minds until the buds start emerge this spring. We also saw the premiere of a new video showcasing LEAF's tree tours and their relationship with Not Far From the Tree, tempting us with an informative stroll through a green space and eating some hyper local fruit this summer.

The silent auction (aka the LEAF Stimulus Package) drew lots of interest, with the three items from Urban Tree Salvage (one of Toronto best green retailers) getting a particularly large number of bids. I was eying the tasty collection of gourmet local eats and antique Tibetan box, but the variety of items to bid on certainly included something to catch everyone's interest.

But the main purpose of the event clearly was the celebration of trees - our urban canopy, and providing a convivial atmosphere for everybody who is as passionate about trees as the eight LEAF staff members and seemingly countless army of volunteers. With their biggest turnout yet and a packed space, the future of Toronto's trees seemed in good hands.

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