About Plant the Parkways

Plant the Parkways, a project intended to plant up to 1,000 trees along North, South and East Parkway, reached an early milestone on Friday, December 1, 2017.  More than a dozen trained volunteers inventoried every tree along the 11.3-mile Parkway System.  Plant the Parkways will focus on the 8.5 miles of parkway medians.

Volunteer Memphis, an action initiative of Leadership Memphis, in partnership with Memphis City Beautiful and the City of Memphis, is the recipient of a $225,000 KRESGE Foundation grant for Plant the Parkways.  And while the most visible aspect of the grant will be new trees to replenish the existing Parkway System, an equally important part of the grant involves engaging the community in the process in a way that promotes inclusiveness.

Those who conducted the inventory provided invaluable information for the project consultant, Ritchie Smith Associates Landscape Architects, such as the size, varietal type, and condition of each existing tree.  Many of the volunteers were members of the City of Memphis Tree Board.  They have been incredibly helpful in preparing this project and ensuring we use trees that fit with the existing Parkway System and that are native to this part of the country.

In early February a series of community meetings will be held to discuss Plant the Parkways and to seek input on the project, identify individuals, families, neighborhood organizations and institutional stakeholders who want to be involved in the project, enlist volunteers to join in the effort, and determine options for long-term sustainability for the Parkway System.

avon lenox arbor-day
Arbor Day

Those interested in more information about Plant the Parkways can add their name and contact information to the Plant the Parkways registration form on the Volunteer Memphis website, volunteermemphis.org.  Andrea Hill, director of Volunteer Memphis, will follow up as work begins in organizing the community meetings.

The Parkway System is considered parkland and is under the City of Memphis Division of Parks and Neighborhood Services.  The Parkways, designed by renowned landscape architect George Kessler and created in the early 1900’s, frame the Center City which contains more than 225,000 residents and intersects ten zip codes.  More than 75% of the population within and along the Parkway System is African-American.

Walking the Parkway System on December 1st was part of the final pre-planning phase of Plant the Parkways.  GIS mapping, creating 23 detailed base maps, and a deeper understanding of which trees are best suited for the project, have consumed months of preparation.  Preparation is expected to move to action by early spring when the planting phase of Plant the Parkways is projected to begin.  The goal is to be planting trees in March and April of 2018.

For more information please contact Volunteer Memphis at 901-278-0016, or visit volunteermemphis.org.  You may also contact the following:

   Andrea Hill, Director of Volunteer Memphis, 901-278-0016

   David Williams, President/CEO of Leadership Memphis, 901-628-6156

   Eldra White, Executive Director of Memphis City Beautiful, 901-636-4410

Leadership Memphis is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit organization whose mission is to prepare and mobilize leaders to work together for the good of the whole community.

One of the most famous landscape architects in the country at the time, George Kessler, (Kessler Society of Kansas City, georgekessler.org) was brought to Memphis to develop the master plans for Overton Park and Riverside Park in the early 1900s, as well as develop a the Parkway system connecting the east and the west of the City at the time.  Planning began at a time when there were only eight cars in Memphis and the speed limit was 8mph!  East Parkway and South Parkway were completed by 1915, and Memphis had grown to about 6,000 automobiles at that time.