Valley Permaculture Alliance (VPA) has refocused and fine-tuned its mission to inspire and promote an increased tree canopy in the Valley under its new name, Trees Matter.
“Why Trees Matter? Many reasons,” said Executive Director Aimee Williamson. “Aside from shade and helping clean the air, you can eat them and from them; they provide comfort, beauty and calmness and even increase property values. We see a need to provide important resources to the public so they can properly choose, plant and care for trees in the desert environment. We hope to encourage a culture of tree advocates and stewards.”
After VPA began teaching classes in the mid-1990s through a mission to inspire sustainable urban living in the desert Southwest, the organization grew to include a seed library, online informational forum, classes and an annual Shade Tree Giveaway in partnership with SRP. VPA also put on several events during the year including the annual Tour de Coops and a Mesquite Pancake Breakfast.
“As VPA grew, a number of individuals and organizations embraced our message and started their own classes and programming,” Williamson said. “Taking note from the first permaculture principle: observe and interact, we began a very strategic discussion about who we should be and how do we adapt for the future. It became very clear that with the capacity and growth in our tree program paired with the immediate need for an increased tree canopy we would become Trees Matter.”
Williamson said that current VPA programs are being moved “to other well-matched organizations as we shift our attention to advocating for more trees in the ground and to provide information and insight into how to care for those already planted.”
Trees Matter will continue organizing the Shade Tree Giveaway in partnership with SRP and will host the annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast, scheduled April 28 at the Songbird Café in downtown Phoenix.
The VPA seed library is moving to The Mollen Foundation and the forum will be managed by the Maricopa County Food System Coalition. Arrangements to shift other programs, including the Tour de Coops, are being finalized.
“The saying goes: the best time to plant a tree was more than 20 years ago. The second best time is now,” Williamson said. “We’re excited to see what the next 20 years might look like.”
For more information, visit www.treesmatter.org.