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 Student 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.
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 have the ability to propagate tens of thousands of trees and have an enormous impact on the future of our City.
Access to trees and green spaces has positive impacts on mental health and a sense of wellbeing, 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 neighbourhood.
With help from The King Univerisity students, Shrubscriber was able to create a snapshot of Edmonton's urban heat island using infrared satellite data from NASA. Combined with social data from NAIT and the UofA projects, Shrubscriber is better able to identify specific Edmonton communities that are most likely to benefit from tree donations.
Your membership supports the cost of 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 cover the costs to plant 3, 6, or 12 trees per year.
When you become 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.
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.
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 generally build workshops around seasonal changes and members' specific issues with their gardens, trees, and projects. Reoccurring and recent event and workshop examples include:
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.
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
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.
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:
We could all use more trees, but some communities need them more, so let's plant trees where they'll do the most good.
The older a tree, the greater its benefits. Three hundred years from now, we want people saying, "That's a Shrubscriber tree!"
Trees are for everybody, so publicly accessible plantings have priority.
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. By joining Shrubscriber, you are supporting (and becoming a member) of a distributed nursery network of backyard tree growers.
After being donated, trees are cared for by their recipients with guidance from Shrubscriber.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!