Libraries are a driving force behind the growth of a nonprofit looking to teach children the importance of nature, and to beautify their communities. 

Neighborhood Forest is a non-profit organization that aims to provide children with free trees on Earth Day. The program is operated through host schools and libraries. 

The organization contacts Neighborhood Forest, who then provide the students with their own trees to plant.  

“We want to beautify our neighborhoods, we want to reduce our carbon footprint, and we want to give kids this priceless opportunity of planting and watching trees grow,” said Vikas Narula, co-founder of Neighborhood Forest. 

The initiative started in 2012 in Minneapolis. Neighborhood Forest gave away 400 trees in their first year. Now they serve 2000 schools, libraries and youth groups in all 50 states, and in a few provinces in Canada. 

He said that their goal is to reach every child in North America, and eventually the world. 

In 2021, the were contacted by the Tamarac District Library in Michigan. The library joined and shared the program with other local branches and the program took off.  

Libraries continue to be a catalyst for the program, and it has gained popularity with Saskatchewan has seen the biggest growth of all the provinces.  

“We’re about to have our record year, for the fourth year in a row,” said Narula. We’re probably going to give around 60 and 70,000 trees away this coming Earth Day.”  
Last year Maureen Driedger the Librarian from the Waldheim Library, got her branch involved in the program. Other libraries in her district then joined, and it has now spread across the province.

“Saskatchewan has become the fastest growing province for our program in Canada, and one of the fastest growing regions in our entire program,” said Narula. “We’re really delighted, and we really tip our hats to them for partnering with us, being a champion of our program and you know spreading more joy, beauty and goodness in the world.” 

To date over 100,000 children have received their own trees and are on track to reach a million kids in the next few years.  

Alameda, Arcola, Bienfait, Caryle, Carnduff, Estevan, Midale, Oungre, and Oxbow are registered with the program.