One Bench One Tree: A student-led, grassroots initiative
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on healthcare workers, who have worked tirelessly on the frontlines to care for the sick and vulnerable. They put themselves at risk and dedicate long hours under challenging circumstances to save lives and help their communities.
To thank these frontline and healthcare workers for their sacrifices, seven Master of Landscape Architecture students from the University of Guelph started One Bench One Tree. Their mission is simple yet impactful: install benches and plant native trees at hospitals across Canada.
“Our objective is to offer an invitation to rest, recuperate, and regenerate through installing a native tree two meters in front of a bench across hospital landscapes in Canada,” One Bench One Tree founder Everett DeJong explains.
The distance of 2 meters, 6 feet, symbolizes the safe physical distancing recommendation in the early pandemic days. While small in scale, the project has a significant impact. Having a design that can be installed in any hospital in Canada was important to the team. Some hospitals will have space for more than one bench/tree; others will have little green space.
One Bench One Tree underscores the importance of green spaces for health and well-being, especially for frontline workers in healthcare settings. DeJong highlights that “trees have been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, cortisol levels, and pulse rates. All these outcomes are tied to better heart health, which allows us to live longer and happier lives.”
Funding and Community Support
To make these small-scale landscape projects a reality the seven classmates have raised funds and recruited community sponsors. The money raised goes towards materials and labor for installation, and the group forwards any excess donations to their partner, the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Maglin Site Furniture maintains a longstanding and valued relationship with the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Guelph. As a result, our partnership was a natural fit. It is our honor to donate benches and help give the gift of rest.
So far, One Bench One Tree has completed over 20 projects in Ontario, with plans for more installations across Canada.
A Timeless Gift of Appreciation
By installing benches and trees in healthcare settings, One Bench One Tree is thanking healthcare and frontline workers and creating a lasting legacy of beauty and tranquility for patients, visitors, and staff. It is a timeless gift of appreciation dedicated to improving mental health and well-being.
To support One Bench One Tree, visit: 1bench1tree.ca