Category Archives: Giving

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree and Us

Every morning, trees tell us about the coming day, as their branches catch a gust of wind or cast a shadow off the rising sun. They mark each new season too, offering hopeful buds in Spring and gold-tinged leaves in Autumn. And they link us to generations past and future. Thirty years from now, our grandchildren could enjoy the shade of our favorite oak tree.

Trees connect us to our surroundings and to one another.

This concept serves as a driving force behind our work at Curb Allure.  Today on our fourth anniversary, we cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to share the story of Toronto (hometown of founder Kim Johnson) and its very special Maple Leaf Forever tree.

John McPherson, The House of A. Muir after a Shower in Toronto, 1907. (Toronto Public Library): Maple Leaf Forever lives on

John McPherson, The House of A. Muir after a Shower in Toronto, 1907. (Toronto Public Library)

This giant maple on Laing Street was said to inspire Alexander Muir to write “Maple Leaf Forever” , the beloved unofficial national anthem and poem of Canada. According to the Toronto Public Library, Muir came up with the song when he was strolling by the tree in front of his house in 1867 and a maple leaf fell on his shoulder.    For nearly 150 years, the Maple Leaf Forever tree stood as a testimony to Canada’s pride in both its national identity and profound natural beauty. Then, last July, a fierce storm knocked over the giant tree, devastating Canadians throughout the world.

(Steve Russell/Toronto Star): Maple Leaf Forever lives on : Protect it

(Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Determined to keep the Maple Leaf Forever alive, last month, the City of Toronto milled logs from the fallen tree and distributed them to 150 local artists, as reported in the Toronto Star. Many of the projects will be displayed publically throughout the city, including 30 wig stands to be donated to cancer patients.  While certainly the most noteworthy, the Maple Leaf Forever is just one of many fallen trees that Toronto has repurposed through an ongoing project. Here is their directory of Urban Wood Products and Services:

Michael Finkelstein made these beautiful nesting bowls out of Maple Leaf Forever wood.

Michael Finkelstein made these beautiful nesting bowls out of Maple Leaf Forever wood.

Art isn’t the only way the Maple Leaf Forever lives on. In 2000, engineer Bill Wrigley took maple keys from the original tree and planted them in his backyard, according to the Toronto Star. One sapling survived. Seven years later, Wrigley received permission to move the sapling to the Maple Leaf Forever Park, right near its “Mama Tree.” And, today, visitors can find comfort in seeing the historic tree’s “Baby”.

Curb Allure is deeply honored that the City of Toronto has asked to use one of our tree guards –with two different custom-designed panels—to protect the offspring of the Maple Leaf Forever tree. Keep an eye out for images of this special guard, which we will happily share following the dedication ceremony in late May.

Thanks to the ingenuity and passion of these Torontonians, the legacy of the Maple Leaf Forever continues.  Living trees require similar dedication from their community. If we want our neighborhood trees to welcome the next generation, it is up to us to protect them. And, as the Maple Leaf Forever and The City of Toronto have taught us, trees are well worth the trouble.



Grants for Neighborhood Plants

Curb Allure exists “because every street deserves to be beautiful” (Pssst. That’s even our tagline!) Yet as we work closely with cities, neighborhood organizations and other community-minded groups, we often see how challenging achieving this goal can be.  Growing and maintaining trees, flowers and green spaces requires a lot of work and money, especially for local grassroots organizations who depend upon volunteers and donations.

Luckily, resources are available to those who dare to ask.  Here is a list of mini-grants available in New York City to help launch your favorite neighborhood project.

Neighborhoods Grants: Citizens Committee for New York City:
Up to $3000
Citizens Committee for NYC is a non-profit organization dedicated to “helping New Yorkers —especially those in low-income areas— come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.”  As one of its many grant programs, Neighborhood Grants awards resident-led groups up to $3000 for projects that focus on improving community or schools throughout NYC.  Recent recipients have transformed empty lots into community gardens, organized tenants to advocate for better housing conditions, and started school recycling drives.
Due Date:
January 27, 2015
Grant guidelines, click here.
Additional information, visit:

Love Your Block Grant: Citizens Committee for New York City
Up To $1000
Citizens Committee for NYC has also partnered with New York City services to forge Love Your Block which provides grants to improve and beautify City neighborhoods. Through this program, not only can resident-led volunteer groups receive up to $1000 in funding, but they also get a little extra help from the Departments of Transportation, Parks and Recreation, and Sanitation. For example, Love Your Block grants have provided assistance for tree removal, tree planting, garbage pickup and providing wood chip mulch for gardening projects.
Due Date:
Late 2014/Early 2015. Exact dates to be announced.
For grant guidelines, click here.
For additional information, visit:

FREE Mulch and Compost: New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY)
Amount: Up to 30 bags each. (Mulch bags weigh approximately 30 pounds, compost weighs roughly 40 pounds.)
New York City Department of Sanitation will provide small amounts of free compost and mulch to improve the soil in NYC street tree beds.  In exchange, recipients must display official NYC Compost and Mulch signs (provided at pickup). Those requesting mulch or compost must be able to pick up bags and physically load them from one of the DSNY compost and mulch distribution locations. Trees on private property do not qualify.
Due Date:
Ongoing basis
For request form, visit:

Grow to Learn NYC Mini-Grants
From $500 to $2000
New York City public or charter schools who are registered with Grow to Learn, the city-wide school garden initiative, may receive funding to create or expand their school garden. Grow to Learn recognizes gardens in all shapes and sizes, including ones within classrooms, on rooftops or via partnerships with community gardens.
Due Date:
March 5, 2014
Additional information, visit:

Urban Forestry Grants: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
 Up to $50,000, depending upon the population of the municipality. Cost-share grants.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) annually announces the availability of community state assistance grants for tree planting and urban forestry projects. These grants are reimbursement cost-share grants that must be equally matched by local resources.
Please note, these grants are not available for privately-held property, but are for municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts and not-for-profit organizations that have a public ownership interest in the property or are acting on behalf of a public property owner. Due Date:  Contact DEC to be notified of fund availability
Additional information, visit:

The beauty behind these grants is that they are geared toward the small guy, namely community-minded people and organizations who want to improve their neighborhood. If you are aware of any such program (or offer one yourself), please let us know.  We are always on the lookout for ways to help our fellow “street beautifiers.”

Holiday Gifts That Grow (Literally) & Support Urban Forest Protection

urban forest protection by donating to NYC urban forest organizations


Urban Forest Protection Donations

The holidays are a time for giving. So, if you’re strapped for ideas on those last minute gifts, consider donating to a cause that matters to your loved ones and supports urban forest protection.

At Curb Allure, we have dedicated ourselves to the belief that trees and gardens are the lungs (and souls) of our communities. If this resonates with you or someone you love, here’s a list of wonderful organizations that could use your donations for urban forest protection. We know first-hand that each of these groups make a real difference, namely in our hometown New York City. 


In 1976, New York City faced severe spending cuts to all forestry and tree-related community service. In response, concerned citizens launched TreesNY, which has since developed an impressive list of urban forest protection programs to fulfill its mission “to plant, preserve and protect New York City’s urban forest through education, active citizen participation and advocacy.”  Programs include Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course, Greening the Bronx Reforestation Project, and Youth Environmental Literacy. Its most recent program, FruiTreesNY, has begun planting orchards throughout the five boroughs. Visit website:  

New York Restoration Project

Founded by famed entertainer Bette Midler, the New York Restoration Project has been “transforming open space in underserved communities to create a greener sustainable NYC” since 1995. NYRP offers a wide-range of programs, such as Hurricane Sandy outreach, Gardens for the City, and environmental education in NYC public school. Today, NYRP is perhaps best known for joining forces with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to launch Million Trees NYC, whose goal is to plant one million trees across the five boroughs by 2017. So far, this tremendously popular initiative has put over 800,000 trees in the ground. Visit website:

City Parks Foundation

Have you ever enjoyed a SummerStage performance in Central Park? Then you’ve already benefitted from the services of City Parks Foundation, created to “provide free and accessible arts, sports, education and community-building programs within NYC parks.”  Aside from super-fun activities like performances, free tennis lessons and youth summer programs, City Parks also fosters environmental outreach by hosting the annual conference Partnership for Parks for community groups and It’s My Park Day volunteer events. Visit website:

Alliance for Community Trees (AC Trees)

The only national organization on our list, Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is “a vibrant network of over 200 nonprofits and agencies that promote the environmental, economic, public health, and social benefits of trees and urban forests.” Not only is AC Trees responsible for planting 15 million trees with 5 million volunteers, but it also provides grants and awards to members; raises awareness about trees and urban forests through its National NeighborWoods® Month   in October; and advocates for policies that protect and sustain trees and urban forests for the benefit of people and communities. Visit website:

Based on our experience, donors cannot go wrong with any of these nonprofits to support urban forest protection. However, we are curious about who’s making an impact in your community. What’s your favorite tree, garden or parks organization? We’d love to hear. Happy Holidays.