New Brunswick

Urban tree nursery puts vacant Saint John lot in the green

A vacant property in Saint John’s south end is the new home for an urban tree nursery, which a local environmental organization will use to produce the next generation of saplings.

A vacant property in Saint John’s south end is home to a new urban tree nursery

ACAP Saint John has planted hundreds trees in a new nursery located in Saint John's Waterloo Village neighbourhood. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

A vacant property in Saint John's south end is the new home to an urban tree nursery, which a local environmental organization will use to produce the next generation of saplings for its projects.

The saplings are growing out of several carefully arranged rows on the corner of Brunswick Drive and Middle Street.

It's these trees which ACAP Saint John, a non-profit organization that works on environmental improvement initiatives, is banking on for the future of its greening projects.

"We've planted on average, probably about 1,500 trees a year for the last few years," said Graeme Stewart-Robertson, executive director of ACAP.

The trees not only revitalize and restore traditional rural areas, but improve urban areas in need of green space, he said.

"We really tailor what we do to individual areas," said Stewart-Robertson.

This means ACAP doesn't move into a forest and plant a swath of spruce trees, instead it tries to match the Acadian forest mix appropriate for a given area.

ACAP’s executive director Graeme Stewart-Robertson says the summit is a chance to “talk not only about the good works going on, but about the challenges and how we can better communicate and learn from one another.” (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

But finding the right species of trees for its projects is both expensive and often difficult.

"While you might be able to find lots of ornamental trees at local nurseries and throughout the province, finding an accurate cross-section of what a native forest or wetland species or things like that, is actually quite challenging."

Introducing the nursery

The solution? Creating its own nursery. ACAP is now growing saplings and making a stockpile of trees of various ages to fit the needs of its upcoming projects.

Named after a historic laneway which once ran beside the plot of land, the Crow Alley Tree Nursery is now growing hundreds of saplings on a lot loaned to the group by Andrew F. Simpson Contracting.

Several varieties of maples, pines, and oaks are growing on the land that would otherwise be sitting unoccupied. The land runs right up to Waterloo Street and Stewart-Robertson said hundreds of trees will be planted next month, with more tiers added next year.

The land now occupied by different types of Maples, Pines, Oaks, and Spruce trees was loaned to the organization by Andrew F. Simpson Contracting. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"Why not beautify a vacant lot in the interim?" he said.

 While the landowner waits for a buyer willing to place a building on it, ACAP hopes to engage the community while giving it more green space.

The environmental group is also launching a second tree nursery in October on the city's west side.

A partnership between the group and Saint Rose School will see elementary students take charge of growing the trees.

"Grade 1 students for example [will] plant as soon as they start in school," said Stewart-Robertson.

"They'll watch over them for the five years they're in the school, take care of them, and they'll become the real stewards of those trees."

While the trees planted on Brunswick Drive are still young, Stewart-Robertson said they could be included in projects within the next 18 months. But the longer they're able to grow he noted, the more money ACAP will be able to save. 


Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.