Detroit Today

Arboretum Detroit and DFC Plant 200 Trees to Transform Greenspace on Detroit’s Eastside

Arboretum Detroit and DFC Plant 200 Trees to Transform Greenspace on Detroit's Eastside

DETROIT – Arboretum Detroit and Detroit Future City (DFC) collaborated for a day of service to support the Elmwood Circle Forest, a reforestation and ecological restoration project on Detroit’s east side.

Elmwood Circle Forest is a planned community gathering space taking shape at the northeast corner of East Grand Boulevard and McDougall Street. The formerly vacant 1.3 acres of residential land is transforming into a lush, green, and welcoming neighborhood trail and forest ecosystem. The gathering space will also include ADA compliant boardwalk and seating in the forested area.

The initiative started in July of 2021 and is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Fund’s Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund, General Motors Foundation, and AARP, and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2023.

“With the Circle Forest project, we have the opportunity to heal and restore a landscape the size of a football field,” said Andrew “Birch” Kemp, Arboretum Detroit president and executive director.

“After more than 300 years of unkept and unceded existence, this land is receiving life and love from hundreds of volunteers who in turn feel the healing of their own ecological grief. Healing our relationship with the land is the only way forward for us on this planet and we feel blessed to be able to engage in this work.”

Volunteers have joined

Arboretum Detroit and DFC have received an outpouring of neighborhood volunteers as well as program participants from companies including General Motors and Rocket Companies, to develop the new community green spaces. Volunteers minimize labor costs and help cultivate relationships with Detroit residents and their neighborhoods, which contribute to the city’s overall health.

“Through the development of the Circle Forest and other sustainability initiatives, DFC is working to increase the scale and capacity of community-based organizations to build and steward vacant land reuse projects that contribute to the health, well-being and climate resiliency of neighborhoods in Detroit.” Sarah Hayosh, Land Use and Sustainability Director at DFC.

Both organizations also recently collaborated for a “Win Win Tree Program Workday and Tree Pickup” at the Arboretum Detroit Neighborhood Tree Nursery, where participants were eligible to select and dig up trees to take home. With over 100 trees and 20 species available, neighborhood residents could participate in an exchange to help cater to the trees in the Nursery, and residents were able to select a few to plant in their own yards. DFC supported the development of the tree nursery, constructed in 2019, through it’s Working with Lots program.

More: This Southwest Detroit neighborhood will soon have a new pocket park and greenway

Elmwood Circle Forest is located at 3301 Palmer St in Detroit’s East Poletown neighborhood. For more information about the tree planting program or volunteer opportunities, visit

About Arboretum Detroit

Arboretum Detroit is a non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining in perpetuity an internationally recognized arboretum spanning the city and inspiring visitors with the love and stewardship of trees. For more information, visit

About Detroit Future City

The Detroit Future City Implementation Office was formed to advance the recommendations of the DFC Strategic Framework Plan. It coordinates strategies, actions, and resources to catalyze the long-term revitalization of Detroit and adds research and implementation capacity to the work of contributing partners and stakeholders. For more information, visit  

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