Redbud flowers. Image courtesy of WPC.

Last year, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) kicked off the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, a volunteer- driven initiative to plant 1,200 redbud tree saplings all over Downtown Pittsburgh. So far, the effort has proven a success.

“We had to replace five trees out of the more than 500 trees planted last spring,” says WPC communications specialist Kristen Blevins, adding that the number equals a 99 percent survival rate. “We also planted trees in the fall, but we won’t be able to assess their health until things bloom this spring.”

Now the organization needs help to continue their work.

WPC put out a call for volunteers to take part in Redbuds and Brews, an event sponsored by NEXTpittsburgh that’s dedicated to mulching and caring for the redbud trees planted last spring in Pittsburgh’s North Side. The job requires no prior experience, and WPC staff will be on hand to offer training on proper mulching techniques. For their time, participants will get to enjoy food and drinks during a happy hour at the recently opened Southern Tier brewpub.

The event adds to WPC’s continuing efforts over the next few years to ensure the redbud trees grow and thrive.

Pittsburgh Redbud Project volunteers plant near the 10th Street Bypass. Photo courtesy of WPC.

Funded by a grant from the Colcom Foundation, the project launched last April with the goal of beautifying Pittsburgh with hundreds of Eastern redbuds, a hearty native tree variety noted for its pretty pink spring blossoms. WPC gathered volunteers and community members to partake in three planting seasonstwo in 2016 and one this coming springin highly visible locations around Downtown Pittsburgh. Focus areas included Allegheny Landing, the Great Lawn and Riverfront Park on the North Shore, Point State Park, Mount Washington and the West End Overlook, as well as sections along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail system.

“If we are fortunate to secure future funding for the next phase of this work, we will continue to add trees in those same areas to build an even higher visual impact,” says Blevins.

The trees also served a practical purpose as a way to reforest the city, and as a food source for local wildlife.

Redbuds & Brews takes place on April 5, 2017 in Pittsburgh’s North Side from 5-6:30 p.m. Up to 50 people are welcome to register by March 28. The volunteer-only happy hour includes appetizers and drinks at Southern Tier brewpub until 8 p.m. Volunteers will also receive their own redbud tree saplings to plant at home.

* Redbuds & Brews has reached capacity. Please consider signing up for an upcoming Pittsburgh Redbud Project event or other WPC tree planting.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...