Our Story

Since 2008, we have been guided by A SINGULAR vision:

all of our neighborhoods deserve access to the benefits provided by good water and air quality.

Proudly led by leaders of diverse backgrounds and experiences, Baltimore Tree Trust has been guided by the singular vision that all Baltimore neighbors deserve access to the clean air and cool green spaces that trees can provide. In 2008, original founders Sarah Lord, Jill Jonnes, Jane Brown, Amanda Cunningham, Barbara Shea and Zoe Clarkwest came together around a kitchen table and sought out on the mission to transform Baltimore communities through trees. These women– all Baltimore natives and longtime environmental advocates– had a vision for a more green and healthy city, and enacted a plan that led to the makings of Baltimore Tree Trust, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Before long, the group alongside volunteers from across the city began planting trees in the McElderry Park neighborhood, aiming to re-green East Baltimore’s Harris Creek Watershed one tree at a time. Through connecting with neighborhood residents, local partners, and community groups, our organization doubled the number of trees across the watershed, growing the canopy from 450 to 914 trees. The McElderry Park project launched our Trees for Public Health program– an initiative aimed at addressing ongoing studies by Johns Hopkins University that associated exacerbated symptoms of chronic respiratory illnesses to higher temperatures and poor air quality. 

Between 2012 and 2015, volunteers working under our Trees for Public Health program planted nearly 500 trees in parks, on private property, and lining streets throughout neighborhoods of East Baltimore. During this time, the Tree Trust “planted out” as many locations as possible across nine neighborhoods, removing tens of thousands of square feet of heat-trapping concrete in the process.

Since 2015, Baltimore Tree Trust has transitioned from neighborhood, volunteer based operations into Baltimore’s premier city-wide tree planting organization. With the support of the Baltimore City Forestry Division, the Tree Trust began to plant larger ball-and-burlap trees on an industrial scale aimed at connecting the city’s tree canopy across neighborhoods, all while engaging and educating residents on the importance of our urban forestry initiatives. 

Along with our expansion came the development of our Neighborhood Forestry Initiative that allowed city applicants to receive industry recognized training within the green job sector. Our Neighborhood Foresters have a crucial part to play in our organization as we continue to increase the rate of tree planting city-wide. Since our start, over 60 Neighborhood Foresters have helped plant nearly 17,000 trees across Baltimore. 

Cities that have a robust, equitably distributed network of trees are equipped with valuable infrastructure that helps to make them cooler, more livable, and more resilient to the effects of global climate change. Whether it be economic, environmental, or spiritual drivers, trees are magic machines that can be used to enhance our city assets. Planting and maintaining trees, along with managing existing forest patches and green habitats, can serve as the basis for city revitalization– creating outdoor spaces where all people can live and thrive. All of us at Baltimore Tree Trust are guided by this foresight of our city’s future, and are privileged everyday to work towards this promise. 

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