Green Leaf Challenge

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Green Leaf Challenge


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Hopes as High as the Tallest Tree

by Kaitlyn and Lauren Grierson, Founders of TreesCO2 and Ambassadors of the Green Leaf Challenge 


As ambassadors of the Ontario Green Leaf Challenge, we happily encourage Ontario citizens to plant a tree in honour of Ontario’s and Canada’s 150th birthday. Our favourite trees to plant are Ontario’s provincial tree, the eastern white pine and Canada’s national tree, the sugar maple tree. The eastern white pine is found in most of Ontario. It can be over 40 m tall but it’s needles only grow 6-12 cm long. Its cones are 8-20 cm long and good seeds are only produced every 3-5 years once the tree is 20-30 years old.

Kaitlin & Lauren at Forests Ontario’s 2017 Community Planting Weekend.

The sugar maple is a large tree that can grow up to 35 m tall and live for more than 200 years. The red leaf on Canada’s flag is the sugar maple. In the fall, the sugar maple tree’s leaves turn yellow, orange and red. Its keys have seeds inside of them which are 30-35 cm long and are produced every year.

Interestingly, the sugar maple’s bark changes from smooth grey and turns darker and splits into ridges that curl as the tree gets older. Canada is very proud of our maple syrup that comes from this tree. Other trees can be used to make syrup but the sugar maple is the one with the sweetest sap. It takes about 40 liters of sap to produce 1 liter of delicious maple syrup.

In 2016, we started a Canadian non-profit initiative,, to educate and encourage families about the benefits of planting trees. So far TreesCO2 has planted 564 trees, including eastern white pines, maple trees, dogwoods, white spruce, oak, hackberry, yellow birch and cedar. We believe the top five best things about planting trees are:

  1. Trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide
  2. You can easily do something with your own hands to offset climate change at any age
  3. You feel good about improving the future
  4. It helps animals too!
  5. You can watch your tree grow over the years and you can go back and visit the tree and remember how much you enjoyed planting it for Ontario’s and Canada’s 150th Birthday

Minister Kathryn McGarry presents Kaitlin and Lauren with the White Pine Award at Forests Ontario’s 2017 Conference.

We hope this inspires everyone across Ontario to take part in the Green Leaf Challenge and help plant three million trees for Canada’s 150th birthday. Every single tree contributes to the fight against climate change.

“Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.” -Joyce Meyer

“Give us a place to stand
Give us a place to grow
And call this land, Ontario
A place to live
For you and me
With hopes as high
As the tallest tree”

Community Toolkit

Resource to help members of the community get involved in Ontario’s Green Leaf Challenge! Whether it’s planting their own trees or participating in an organized planting event, there are many ways for Ontarians to get involved. Download our Community Toolkit today!

Planting Double: Twelve-Year-Old Twin Sisters Pledge to Help Forests Ontario Plant Trees

Lauren and Kaitlin Grierson aren’t your average middle school girls. While you might expect to find the twelve-year-olds cheering on their favorite pop stars or enraptured by the latest smartphone game, you’d be more likely to find these sisters deep in one of Ontario’s forests.

You see, the Grierson twins have a very grown-up goal in mind: Helping Forests Ontario plant three million trees across the province for Ontario’s
Green Leaf Challenge.


Donate to plant a tree

Don’t have anywhere to plant? Consider making a donation to Forests Ontario to support tree planting efforts across the province. For every $4, we will plant one tree!

Organize your own event

Consider hosting your own tree planting event!

Things to consider when organizing your own event:

  • Where will you plant trees? Work with your local municipality, schools, conservation authorities, or community members to determine the appropriate place to hold a tree planting event.
  • When to plant? Trees can be planted from spring through fall, but planting in the summer can be tough for a tree because of the heat and lack of moisture.
  • How will you fund your event? Lots of opportunities exist to help fund your tree planting event. Look for support from community foundations, non-profit organizations, grants available online, conservation areas, municipalities or local businesses. You could also look for in-kind possibilities through the donation of plant materials, mulch, soil or tools.
  • Who will you invite? Local MPP, Community members, local businesses, school groups, religious groups, or anyone interested in helping to plant the trees.

Share your success! Make sure you share your community planting stories by tagging #GreenLeafChallenge and help to add to Ontario’s forests!