Welcome to Shrubscriber

Community in the Shape of a Forest

Shrubscriber brings together gardeners, schools, and climate-conscious individuals and organizations. We offer community workshops, seeds, and step-by-step instructions to grow a food-secure, biodiverse, and climate-resilient Edmonton.

Hi, My name's Dustin Bajer, and in 02015, I fell in love with three apricot trees that were guerilla gardened in a city boulevard in the early sixties. That fall, I collected a hundred apricot pits and planted them in a four-square-foot bed on the side of my house. Ninty-six little trees sprouted the following spring, and the Forest City Plants Urban Nursery was born. As the nursery expanded, I began selling small trees to local gardeners while figuring out how to grow thousands of trees in tiny urban spaces.

While happy to grow and sell trees, I realized that the communities with the greatest need are the least likely to afford them. And if one guy can produce hundreds of trees in his backyard, imagine what a community of tree growers could accomplish! That's why, in 02021, I started Shrubscriber (Shrub-Scriber).

50 Local Apricot Trees Grown By Students at Avonmore Elementary

Shrubscriber brings together gardeners, educators, schools, and organizations with community, workshops, seeds, and step-by-step instructions to propagate and distribute trees to school and community groups so that we can grow a food-secure, biodiverse, and climate-adapted Edmonton.

Imagine a city in alignment with nature. Imagine old-growth trees in our backyards, parks, and boulevards. Imagine ecology soaking up stormwater, growing food, creating a sense of place, mitigating the effects of climate change, and bringing people together. We can grow that future together.

What Members Are Saying

A Community of Tree Growers

You'd be surprised how many trees you can grow in small urban spaces like backyards, raised beds, or balconies. It's fair to say that I've grown thousands of trees in a corner of my Edmonton backyard and at the Edmonton Urban Farm. But what if there was more than one grower? What if there were ten or one hundred of us growing trees? That's the power of community. Together, we can propagate tens of thousands of trees and have an enormous impact on the future of our City.

Equity & Climate Justice

Access to trees and green spaces positively impacts mental health and a sense of well-being, in addition to mitigating climate change. Unfortunately, greenspace is unevenly distributed across neighbourhoods, and marginalized communities tend to have fewer trees and green spaces overall. That's why Shrubscriber teamed up with capstone students from NAIT's Bachelor of Technology program to map eleven social indicators across every neighbourhood in Edmonton. We then partnered with Community Service Learning students from the University of Alberta to identify community partners in Edmonton's most impacted communities.

Data Informed Tree Planting

With help from The King Univerisity students, Shrubscriber created a snapshot of Edmonton's urban heat island using infrared satellite data from NASA. With social data from NAIT and the UofA projects, Shrubscriber can better identify specific Edmonton communities most likely to benefit from tree donations.

Memberships Options

Member Supported Tree Planting

Your membership supports the propagating and caring for trees and identifying and working with local community groups; expenses such as seeds, soil, propagation boxes, pots, transportation, and time. The larger the Shrubscriber community, the more trees we can grow.

Seedling, Tree, and Forest memberships annually support 3, 6, or 12 trees.

Community Access 

As an annual member, you join a growing network of local experts, gardeners, and climate-conscious citizens. Receive support for your greening projects, access workshops and events, and join a growing backyard and school tree nursery network.

Ongoing & Upcoming Shrubscriber Projects

We continuously explore themes, quests, and projects, such as the Alberta Grade 1 Tree Registry, the 1000-Year Tree Project (Long Trees), and Mapping Edmonton's Urban Heat Island.

Community Events & Workshops

The Shrubscriber community supports each other through regular events and workshops. Workshops are held online, at the nursery, or in member yards and neighbourhoods. We build workshops around seasonal changes and members' specific issues with their gardens, trees, and projects. Reoccurring and recent event and workshop examples include:

Community Propagation Courses

The Forest City Propagation Course is a blend of online learning and hands-on experience. Students will receive seeds from unique trees and shrubs to prepare and propagate over the fall, winter, and spring. The course comprises online videos and lessons with live check-ins for questions and answers.

By spring, participants will have a small forest of trees to plant, give away, or add to the Shrubscriber nursery for donation to school and community groups.

Classroom Propagation Course

Educators who join Shrubsciber at the TREE level will receive twice as many seeds as students and detailed step-by-step instructions to prepare, grow, and care for a classroom set of trees.

Over the school year, students will learn about their trees, their evolution and ecological partners and be able to bring home and care for a tree by the end of June.

Elementary Students Sorting Paperbark Maple Seeds

Public Sponsorship

For organizations, businesses, or individuals wanting to give more, Shrubscriber has created the FOREST membership. Shrubscribers at the FOREST membership level, whose values* align with that of the Shrubscrtiber community, will have the option of adding their climate-conscious organization, initiative, or business to an internal Shrubscriber directly and receive public recognition via Shrubscriber's social media and mailing list.

Shrubscriber's Guiding Values

  • Be Good Ancestors. Consider the needs of future generations by making decisions today that increase options for future generations. Take the long view and build something that will make future generations proud.
  • Embrace LoTek (Local, Traditional, Ecological Knowledge)Solutions. Develop and use appropriate technology to create nature-based solutions to fulfill community needs. Learn, honour, and share local knowledge to inform the shape of each community project.
  • Support an Equitable and Just Climate Transition. Recognize that marginalized neighbourhoods and communities have less access to green space and are at increased risk of climate change impacts.
  • Embrace Diversity. Evaluate success based on an increase in diversity. Honour diversity in all forms and recognize that difference is a necessary condition for building relationships.
  • Create Connections. Reimagine and create an Edmonton that embraces and partners with the natural world in mutually beneficial ways.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How Are Tree Donations Selected?

Marginalized communities often have fewer trees, green spaces, and resources - let's fix that. Shrubscriber uses urban heat island and social data to identify community partners that would benefit most from additional trees. Community partners are chosen based on three criteria:

  1. Community Need 
    We could all use more trees, but some communities need them more, so let's plant trees where they'll do the most good.

  2. Project Sustainability
    The older a tree, the greater its benefits. Three hundred years from now, we want people saying, "That's a Shrubscriber tree!"

  3. Public Access
    Trees are for everybody, so publicly accessible plantings have priority.

Q: Who's Growing Shrubscriber Trees?

By joining Shrubscriber, you are supporting (and becoming a member) of a distributed nursery network of backyard tree growers. I've been growing most of my trees in my backyard at the Edmonton Urban Farm, and the cost of membership helps me cover the costs of providing tree trees. However, the long-term vision is to create a distributed tree nursery community growing trees across the City.

After being donated, trees are cared for by their recipients with guidance from Shrubscriber.

Q: How Large Are The Trees?

Shrubscriber trees are 1 to 3 years old when donated and are between 6 and 36 inches tall, depending on the age and species.

Small but mighty! Small trees are easier to grow and transport and quicker to establish, often catching up and surpassing larger transplanted trees. Shrubscriber trees are grown in Edmonton, ready for winter, and have a low transportation cost (carbon footprint).

Q: How Can My Community Get Trees From Shrubscriber?

Please email us if you have a community-minded project that can benefit from free trees. It is not necessary to become a member to receive trees, but the excess resources and community support can be helpful.

Q: Does Shrubscriber Only Grow Trees For Projects In Edmonton?

We're in Edmonton, but we believe that food security and climate change adaptation are essential for all municipalities - the world needs more trees. So while we're focussing on Edmonton, we'd like to grow the project over time.

Q: Can I Gift A Shrubscriber Membership?

Yes. Send me an email if you would like to buy a Shrubscriber membership on behalf of someone else. Upon payment, we will share an access link with the person of your choice.

Q: Why Are Memberships Annual?

Growing trees takes time, and we want to share the journey, so we ask our members to sign up for a one-year commitment. But we promise it's worth it for you and the trees!

Have Questions? Send Us An Email