June 26, 2020

Planting Trees À La Social Distancing Style

Written by

Drew Crawford

For many Utahns, one of the most challenging realities of the COVID-19 lockdown is balancing the demands of keeping their family safe at home, while also keeping their kids occupied with meaningful and engaging activities.

Many previous events for family fun have been modified or canceled, but some exciting opportunities are available that follow the protocols of social distancing.

On May 2,  Friends of Fairmont planted 10 trees in Fairmont Park with the help of the nonprofit Tree Utah and some Sugar House families.

“The idea for doing the trees came pre-COVID. We had said ‘OK, when it gets warmer, we’re going to do a planting,’” said Sarah Woolsey[LL1] , the leader of Friends of Fairmont.  

“And then Amy May, the executive director of Tree Utah, she and I talked and we said, ‘Well, we have these trees, they’re waiting to be planted, could we find a way to work with the parks and the county and the city to have it be OK to do a planting?’”

The group was able to drive a larger turnout than normal, and a total of eight families participated in the kid-friendly event.

Each family stuck to their own tree, planting it in a plot of soil that had already been dug and moistened by the city. Additionally, there were guidelines in place to ensure sanitation; families were encouraged to wear masks and were required to bring water and their own tools.

As a new resident of Utah, Emily Parker was impressed with the opportunity that the tree planting event gave her family to be active and teach them about nature despite the impacts of the virus.

“It was super friendly and personable. It was weird, yes, because it was the first time going out and interacting with people after being inside for three weeks. It was very welcoming; they dug the hole for us,” Parker said.

“For my crew it was nice, like my dog came along and we got to walk there, and my little family we got to interact, and it was fun. Even some girls came over and helped with dirt and stuff. I don’t think that it felt awkward in any way. It was just really friendly and calm,” Parker said.

“They even suggested, like you should give it a name. It made us feel really special. It made the experience for the children to be like this is a wonderful thing that you’re putting something alive into our earth to create this beauty,” Parker said.

Woolsey believes that many traditional opportunities to serve can be modified in ways that still allow for mission-based organizations to accomplish their goals during the pandemic.

“The tree planting event is an example of adapting to the rules of COVID-19,” Woolsey said.

“A park or an outdoor volunteer opportunity is a really great way to get involved, and to do something for the community that it’s easy to social distance, so you know, volunteering in a park setting is going to be outside and likely tend to be safe,” Woolsey said.

“Really anything can be adapted and that we just have to be creative, and we have to work together to find a solution. We’ve really never had little kids at our events, but this is perfect to bring a family together to plant a tree and they thought it was really fun and we got the kids involved,” Woolsey explained.

Parker said it was a safe environment to bring his kids. “They were really smart to put it in waves and stagger the entrance which kept it feeling like a small event, so I think there was like two to three times to pick that you could show up at,” he said.

Between the past couple of weeks of April and the beginning of May, Friends of Fairmont has planted 22 trees in Fairmont Park that are now being taken care of by the park staff. If you want to get involved in the community during COVID-19 and are looking for safe opportunities for your family to serve the community while social distancing, contact Sarah Woolsey at  or follow Friends of Fairmont Salt Lake City on Facebook.