From tree beer to EarthFest: Seven ways to celebrate all things green along the North Coast

Cleveland of yesteryear was lush and covered with luxurious foliage. As the canopy of our former Forest City continues to deteriorate — at 19 percent it's one-fourth of what it could be, and will drop to nearly 14 percent over the next two decades — concerned citizens are taking matters into their own hands by planting back.
We lose an estimated 97 acres of tree canopy annually, but The Cleveland Tree Plan aims to reverse that. The community-wide collaboration strives to rebuild the urban forest through partnership. The Cleveland Tree Coalition, which includes more than 30 groups such as the Western Reserve Land Conservancy endeavors to expand the local tree canopy so it can provide a bevy of benefits. To date, the coalition has planted more than 3,500 trees in Cleveland neighborhoods.
"We’re striving to create a healthy, vibrant, sustainable, and equitable urban forest," says Emily Bacha, director of communications and marketing for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “A robust urban tree canopy plays an important role in contributing to residents’ health and economic well-being. It also helps meet many environmental and ecological challenges," she says.

"Trees are helping improve public health and safety by improving air quality, reducing crime, adding economic value to residential properties and businesses," adds Bacha, "They are absorbing storm water when we have a big rainfall or snowfall, absorbing carbon dioxide and improving our natural world. Trees are not only beneficial to animals, pollinators, and other creatures, but they’re important to humans for our physical health and our mental health.”  
Opportunities abound for everyone wishing to do their part in the effort — and rapidly approaching Earth Day and Arbor Day are perfect launching pads. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Cleveland Metroparks, and other organizations invite locals to join in these upcoming events.
1. Raise your glass and help raise the canopy on Apr. 27 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Nano Brew Cleveland, 1859 W. 25th St. "Toast to Trees" is sponsored by Market Garden Brewery, which will release its Root Flare brew for the event. The beer is named after the portion of the tree where the trunk widens and transitions to the root system. Removing excess soil to expose root flare helps trees breathe.
Market Garden will donate $1 of every Root Flare purchase to area reforestation efforts. The brew is a Gotlandsdricka, a type of beer originating from an island off of Sweden.
“It was used during the Viking age, and it’s made from juniper branches,” Nano Brew event manager Nathan Carr says. “Because juniper is a type of tree, we wanted to make a beer that was made out of a tree for Arbor Day.”
Although the fundraising event is open to people of all ages and professions, as the young professionals chair for the Land Conservancy, Carr is excited to appeal to that demographic.

“What we’re trying to do is build up the young professionals interested in conservancy and protecting our environment and our land that we have in the Western Reserve, and getting young professionals interested and involved in what the Land Conservancy does,” he says. “So we’re really excited to see a lot of young professionals at that event as well as people of all ages.”
Admission is $10 and includes light appetizers. Beverages may be purchased separately. Purchase tickets online or at the door. Proceeds benefit the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

2. Come for the ice cream leave with a tree as Mitchell’s Ice Cream (in partnership with Western Reserve Land Conservancy) provides 2,000 tree seedlings to customers on Arbor Day as part of the Arbor Day Seedling Giveaway. Visit any one of eight Mitchell’s Ice Cream stores across Northeast Ohio on Apr. 28 starting at 11 a.m. for ice cream and receive a tree seedling (while supplies last) to plant in your yard. Mitchell’s will also offer tree-inspired treats in honor of Arbor Day.

“If you are attending a tree seedling give-away you can plant that tree in your yard to reap the benefits there,” notes Bacha, adding that Arbor Day is a great day to plant a tree.

3. For those who want to do more than participate in a single event, Sherwick Tree Steward Trainings provides instruction to carry on conservation. Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Holden Forests and Gardens have partnered to teach citizens how to plant, care for, and maintain existing and newly planted trees.
The four-part program covers tree biology, tree identification, urban/community forestry effort, soils, tree planting, and pruning and tree care in a classroom setting. Field training workshops give attendees hands-on experience selecting planting sites, preparing soil, planting, pruning and conducting tree health assessments.
Training locations include Slavic Village, Glenville, and Cudell. For dates, times and to register, call 216-515- 8300 or visit the Conservancy's tree steward page.
4. Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Third Federal Foundation will join Reforesting Slavic Village partners for Earth Day Tree Planting in Slavic Village Apr. 22 from 8 a.m. –1 p.m. to plant 25 trees at the Boys and Girls Club, 6114 Broadway Ave. For more information, call 216-515- 8300 or go online.
5.  Holden Forests and Gardens will give away 500 saplings at the Arbor Day Tree Sapling Giveaway on April 28 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Cleveland Botanical Garden. 11030 East Blvd., and Holden Arboretum, 9500 Sperry Rd., Willoghby.  Davey Tree and Bartlett Tree Experts will donate the saplings. Staff will be onsite to discuss tree care and conduct family activities.
EarthFest - Earth Day Coalition 
6. Celebrate EarthFest 2017 with the Earth Day Coalition on Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. – 7.p.m. with activities/exhibits until 5 p.m. and four stages of live music and food trucks continuing until 7 p.m. at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 19021 Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights.
The event will feature more than 270 exhibitors in nine eco-exhibit areas, dignitaries and speakers, workshops, giveaways, microbrewers and vintners. A pop-up streetscape with interactive tree canopy will inform as Midwest Evolve provides electric vehicle rides. Biodiesel powered amusement park rides, urban farm animals, petting zoo, sheep dog herding demos, Jungle-Bob with his animal friends, and pony rides will delight the junior set.
Admission is $8 for ages 12 and over and $4 for ages 2-11. Get in free by riding and parking your bicycle at the designated bike valet parking area, riding RTA's Redline (regular fare) to Brookpark rapid station and taking the free shuttle to Fairgrounds, or dressing like a tree. Current Earth Day Coalition members and teachers and their immediate family get in free as well with a valid school ID.

For additional information, visit or call 216-281-6468.
7. The Cleveland Metroparks will host multiple Arbor Day hikes to get people back to nature:

Focus on our native tree species and discuss the history of Arbor Day and Cleveland’s role in it as you enjoy the majesty of nature at night during the 1.5-mile Arbor Day Night Hike on April 28th from 6:30 – 8 p.m., at the Watershed Stewardship Center, 2277 W. Ridgewood Dr., Parma. Free.
Identify different trees at a scavenger hunt at CanalWay Center, 4524 East 49th St, Cuyahoga Heights, on April 30 from 2 – 3 p.m. The tree hunt will also feature a tree-themed craft and participants will bring home a native tree to plant. Register by phone (216-206-1000) or online. Free.

Embark on the Arbor Day Old Growth Excursion to learn about the few patches of remaining old growth forest and trees, as well as their history, on these unpaved trails on April 28 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Watershed Stewardship Center. For $55, participants receive transportation and lunch. Register by phone (440-887-1968 ) or online by April 25.

8. BONUS UPDATE added 4/21/17: Cleveland Metroparks will be distributing nearly 7,000 seedlings to visitors beginning on Arbor Day (April 28) and continuing through the weekend (April 29-30) until the seedlings are gone.  The species include: White Oak, Pin Oak, Tulip, Flowering Dogwood and Service Berry. The following are the give away locations:

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way; Rocky River Nature Center, 24000 Valley Pkwy, North Olmsted; North Chagrin Nature Center, 3037 Som Center Rd., Willoughby Hills; Watershed Stewardship Center; CanalWay Visitor Center, 4524 E 49th St.; Brecksville Nature Center, 9000 Chippewa Creek Dr., Brecksville.

This story was made possibly through a partnership with Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network, as is the Cleveland Metroparks.

Read more articles by Hollie Gibbs.

Hollie Gibbs earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She spends her free time playing guitar, taking pictures, and traveling.