Planting trees for leafy, shady streets
Having moved to Umina Beach from the leafy Hornsby Shire eight years ago, it has been my aim to plant trees to try and duplicate the shady streets of the northern suburbs.
My long-time partner Gary Machin and I began planting verge trees at a time when the Gosford Council gave these away for free on request.
With that policy no longer in place, a few like-minded women got together to form the group called, Grow Urban Shade Trees, fondly known as GUST.
By engaging with residents who also want shade in their street, the GUST team and I have helped coordinate the planting of over 650 verge trees.
Another project of mine, with approval from council, was the formation of the South St Dunecare group which can boast a flourishing of native vegetation which now covers a large area of what was once a bare dune.
I teamed up with Melissa Chandler to kick start the vision of the barren Trafalgar Ave Park becoming a play space for families.
With my teacher's hat on, I organised and helped supervise Woy Woy South school groups to participate in the planting of native trees and shrubs in the park.
Gary and I continued to water, weed and maintain, what is now called the Runway Park.
With my application for a Federal Environment Grant approved, I was able to transform Guyangil Park in Australia Ave from a neglected reserve into a native habitat play park for young children to enjoy.
Each year, I endeavour to organise an event to mark National Tree Day.
The GUST team supported by willing families have had many successful tree planting days.
One of these was the installation of new trees and native plants at the Sydney 2000 Park.
It gives me great joy to have the energy and capacity to be able to make a lasting contribution to our local Peninsula environment.
All of these projects could not have been achieved without my right hand man, Gary, our GUST team of Jen Wilder, Michael Wilder, Mel Chandler, Jan Deighton and Lesley Harvey and a loyal band of volunteers who answer my call for help and have continued to plant, weed and water over many years. Thank you.
It warms my heart to know that we have so much support from the community.
This award is further appreciation of the lead that we are taking in re-greening the Peninsula, providing shade, bird habitat and more liveable, cooler suburbs.
Media statement, 21 Jan 2022
Debbie Sunartha, GUST