North Memphis

V&E Greenline's first Arbor Day celebration planted trees and memories

On Saturday, March 7, the Vollintine-Evergreen community came together to plant trees and memories that will last generations.

The V&E Greenline Committee hosted its first-ever Arbor Day Celebration as a fundraiser for the community’s greenline.

The trail runs through the University Lane and Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhoods and ends at the Crosstown Concourse. The 1.7-mile greenway was converted from an old railroad line and features distinct sections like The Springs, The Gardens, and The West End.

The Arbor Day event kicked of the V&E Greenline's annual “March is Contribution Month" fundraising campaign.

On April 25, VECA will host the 9th Annual V&E Artwalk. It's their largest annual event and features artwork from over 70 artists.

Kjeld Petersen is VECA's volunteer and Arbor Day event coordinator. He said the committee wanted to try a smaller event that would help to activate the community ahead of the artwalk.

“We want to get the neighborhood involved in supporting the greenline,” said Peterson. “I think the more opportunities that people have to rub elbows and talk to each other, it can’t be anything but good.”

Arbor Day is a national holiday usually held during the spring where individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. Tennessee Arbor Day is the first Friday in March each year.

The local celebration was held at the Kirby Station stop on the V&E Greenline. The spot is marked by a bright yellow building that served as a station house for the railroad. It's now the trail's central hub with water fountains for pets and people and the Woodland Memorial Path.

The Arbor Day event included a ceremonial tree planting in honor of Jan Kirby, a long-standing Vollintine Evergreen Community Association and V&E Greenline Committee member. Kirby passed away earlier this year. 

Family members, friends, and neighbors gathered to honor her memory and install a special plaque and Okame Cherry tree. The tree will eventually grow to 20-feet in height.

Connie Shepherd, a City of Memphis horticulturist and VECA member,  led the ceremony. In her role with the city, she helps ensure trees are planted throughout Memphis.

“Well, just look at them,” Shepherd said of the towering trees along the V&E Greenline. “They are so majestic, and there are so many things that [trees] do for our community.”

Community members walked from their homes to attend the celebration. Other plant lovers drove in from across the city.

The Urban Earth Garden Center offered a variety of annuals, perennials, trees, and other gardening needs for sale, with proceeds benefiting the V&E Greenline.

“We believe in being an active part of our community,” said Brett Norman, owner of Urban Earth. “We love meeting people, helping people, and talking to them about plants.” 

The V&E Greenline is a 100% community-supported, volunteer organization managed by VECA. They hold a monthly second-Saturday cleanup event. This month's event is this Saturday, March 14, from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. It's open to anyone and will meet at the trail crossing at North Idlewild Street.

Kjeld Petersen's wife, Melissa Petersen, was recruited to serve as an Arbor Day event volunteer.

“I love being able to wave at my neighbors or go and pet their dog,” said Melissa Peterson. “It doesn’t always have to be a big event or where you have to have a ticket. Sometimes it’s just about coming out to just be.”

Read more articles by Ashley Davis.

Ashley Foxx Davis is an author, educator, artist and Memphis native. She's been featured in Glamour, Ebony, and Essence magazines; Blackenterprise.com; TheRoot.com; and BET.com. Find her at kifanipress.com.
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