Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Assisted by residents, high school students, garden club members, and village employees, the first Park Forest mini forest broke ground on Saturday, October 23, at the corner of Marquette Street and Niagara Street. Situated on two undeveloped lots owned by the village, the mini forest will not only enhance the appearance of the neighborhood but will provide environmental benefits for years to come.
Spearheaded by Carrie Malfeo, the village’s Sustainability Coordinator, the mini forest was designed to improve biodiversity, support pollinators, absorb CO2, and reduce stormwater run-off. Situated just south of Sauk Trail, the mini forest will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the estimated 30,000 vehicles that use that road each day.
The project is part of the village’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan which has a goal of reducing greenhouse gasses by 26% by 2025 from the 2010 baseline.
Roughly 300 plants and trees were supplied by Possibility Place Nursery in Monee, which also assisted in the planting. According to Village Arborist Tom Cann who was on-site to assist, all the flora planted is native to the area and was specifically chosen to thrive in an urban area. Some of the various trees and plants used include bitternut hickory, northern catalpa, Illinois rose, red oak, black gum, big tooth aspen, Kentucky coffee tree, wafer ash, and black chokeberry bushes.
Wood chips will serve as ground cover to ensure as much moisture as possible gets to the growing plants. Cann noted that the village will be responsible for watering the mini forest until it has fully taken root. Signage explaining the purpose of the mini forest is planned for 2022.
Financing for the project was made possible by a $3,000 grant from the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus with $9,000 in additional funds from the Village. The village solicited volunteers through door hangers and mailings to nearby residents, as well as a sign posted on the corner before the event. As an added incentive and token of appreciation, the village provided lunch and refreshments to all the volunteers.
Sandy Spann, a long-time Park Forest resident and member of the Garden Club of Park Forest, was on hand to help with the planting. A retired Spanish teacher at Rich East and Rich South High Schools, Sandy was excited to help transform the property into something that will benefit the ecology of the village.
Jhoselin Diaz lives just down the street from the mini forest and joined other volunteers in the effort. A three-year resident of the village, she viewed it as a wonderful way to get involved and help her community.
This article was updated on October29, 2021.