2023 Capital Trees Year In Review

By: Shelly Barrick Parsons, Executive Director

Every weed pulled, dollar given, and tree planted makes a difference. YOU have made a difference with Capital Trees this year. 

Capital Trees’ vision is to build a greener and more livable Richmond. We complete this vision in three program areas: Build, Manage, and Educate. Build: Capital Trees continues to build and transform public greenspaces, and we advise organizations on the development of greenspaces. Manage: We are committed to the continued management of completed projects, building sustainable management practices, and advising on best management practices for public landscapes. Educate: Capital Trees will continue to advocate for sustainable management practices and teach about the value of public greenspace to improve climate resilience and community wellbeing. We will continue to build robust community engagement programs. Capital Trees launched new projects, continued sustainable management, and expanded our education focus in 2023.   


Hotchkiss Field Community Center

In March of 2023, Capital Trees’ trustees voted to move forward with greenspace renovations at Hotchkiss Field Community Center. The project launch followed community engagement to develop the final concept plan for the project. This project will renovate just under 2 acres of underutilized greenspace at the Center with walking trails, pollinator gardens, seating, trees, and edible landscape features. We are on track to break ground in late spring 2024.  

Canoe Run Park

Partnering with Richmond Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities, Keep Va Beautiful, and Co-Star, Capital Trees completed a tree planting project at Canoe Run Park in October.  Together with staff, Co-star employees, and community volunteers, 50 native trees were planted around the walking trail at the park.  

Henrico County Reforestation Pilot Project

Capital Trees began a pilot project with Henrico County to assess tree canopy and make reforestation recommendations at schools and parks throughout the county. The initial project included training staff and volunteers on tree identification and inventory, developing a tree canopy map, and making recommendations for new plantings. Inventory assessments were completed at Deep Run Park, Cheswick Park, Dorey Park, and Fairfield and John Rolfe Middle schools. Plans are underway for tree planting events in March at parks. Students from Virginia Randolph Education Center participated in design charrettes to help develop planting plans at the schools. Henrico County Extension and Virginia Department of Forestry staff have been indispensable resources in the project along with Henrico County staff and the GIS office.  


Capital Trees continues to offer advising services to organizations, public departments, and neighborhood associations. This year we continued advising the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond on their greenspace development at the Teen and Community Center. We developed planting plans for the 17th street market and the viewshed garden and roundabout on Libby Hill.


We continue to sustainably manage the greenspaces at Great Shiplock Park, along the Low Line, and at the Low Line Green.  Thanks to in-kind work by Cross Creek Nurseries, True Timber Arborists, and Bartlett Tree Experts, significant invasive species management was undertaken along the canal bank including removing invasive vines and beginning to eradicate the invasive tree of heaven Ailanthus altissima. We are able to execute these sustainable practices thanks to the countless volunteer hours of our private, community, and weekly workdays. We are grateful for the continued investment by community members to maintain this as a transformative and sustainable landscape. Additional management highlights included: Waste reduction by using the fallen leaves as mulch, progress on controlling the seed bank, and thriving transplants from the Low Line Gardens to the Low Line Green.  After volunteers divided and replanted Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica), we were also able to have several free community giveaways of excess plants.  


Working with a coalition of organizations and city staff, a resolution has been sent to the City Council to establish Richmond as a Bee City — a program that recognizes, supports, and encourages pollinator conservation in cities, towns, and counties. We continue to document our sustainable management values and practices through our blog. We have established a new committee, Education and Engagement, to continue to develop our educational programming and our community engagement programs. We continue to speak throughout the region and offer public and private educational tours at our greenspace projects. Our Board of Trustees is committed to further education including tours of other public landscapes to learn about their sustainable practices. This summer trustees were invited to tour University of Richmond’s Eco-Corridor to learn about the corridor’s development and ongoing sustainable practices. They also toured the Green at the Science Museum of Virginia and learned about the planting plan and management goals of the newly developed greenspace. Capital Trees’ staff also committed to ongoing education this year. Thanks to the support of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Lisa Trapp (Program and Outreach Manager) and Shelly Barrick Parsons (Executive Director), attended the Central Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association training in February. Both Shelly and Lisa successfully completed Level 1 Certification through the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professionals program.  

We have much to be thankful for in 2023. Stay tuned for more good news in 2024 including new staff and project groundbreaking announcements.  

Again, every weed pulled, dollar given, and tree planted makes a difference. We continue to build a greener and more livable Richmond because YOU have chosen to invest in our work.  Thank you!  YOU have made a difference with Capital Trees and in Richmond this year. 


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