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How do you turn a community park into an arboretum? Ask these Northeastern students

How do you turn a community park, tucked away among rows of housing in the middle of a city, into an arboretum?

As it turns out, many urban parks may already meet the criteria—at least, to be a Level I arboretum. Such a designation requires, among other things, a minimum of 25 different species of plants be present on the grounds.

A group of Northeastern students are working toward that first-level arboretum certification for Kevin W. Fitzgerald Park, a 5.5-acre slice of greenspace in the Mission Hill neighborhood that Northeastern has had a hand in maintaining for years.

But there are a number of other items needed as well, including the careful documentation of existing and future flora, organizational and volunteer oversight, and a master plan outlining maintenance strategies consistent with a long-term vision of the site. With the help of Northeastern co-ops Indira Holdsworth, 22; Jessica Johnson, 20; and Nadia Plaschke, 21, the park is on its way becoming a bona fide arboretum.

On Monday, the three were on site tagging the trees and shrubs with labels they’d created to identify the different species that live there.

“We’ve essentially gone through every tree that we can identify and given them numbers,” says Holdsworth, a third-year Northeastern student who is currently doing her co-op with the Northeastern Arboretum.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022