For the history of SURF and its founding partners, watch the Making of the Heritage Harbour Microforest.
Who We Are
Suncoast Urban ReForesters is above all else a partnership. Our founding partners are three nonprofits dedicated to restoring coastal water quality and combating climate change by planting forests and, in doing so, engaging volunteers who learn what they can do to protect the environment. Every microforest has new partners specific to it, whether these be neighborhoods, schools, or helpful organizations of government and the public interest. It is these partnerships that make our reforestation initiative possible!
SURF wants to plant as many microforests as possible in the Suncoast. By replacing boring turf with a rich diversity of trees, shrubs, and ground covers, we are making Sarasota a healthier and more wonderful place to live. Every forest is a powerful agent against climate change, urban heating, damaging winds, and stormwater that causes flooding and carries pollutants that nurture red tide.
Turf or lawn grass as a crop uses more resources to maintain than any food crop and yet generates more pollution than nutrition. We transform areas of turf where there is no good reason to have it into forests by using cardboard, which does not necessitate any chemicals or tillage, but rather converts the grass into soil by depriving it of light
SURF volunteers spread cardboard to shade the grass, which decmposes into excellent soil. This sheet mulch also cools the soil beneath it, creating a favorable environment for fungi and the soil organisms that thrive on it
Arborists are glad to donate recycled woodchip mulch, which further cools the soil and gradually decomposes into organic matter that will feed the fast-growing forest
Preparing the planting pockets
Six weeks after spreading the cardboard and woodchip mulch, volunteers or paid workers drill holes through the “simulated forest floor” and into the rich new soil. Now the site is ready for small plants to be delivered and installed by volunteers
We always have lots of people from every age group come and help us plant our trees. This is possible because the holes are already drilled and the trees are small, easily carried from the edge of the future Forest into their permanent home. We count on Master Gardeners, school groups, churches, and clubs to help us with planting day, which is always very special because we know that we are planting a forest that will last for generations
Talk to us
Reach out to SURF if you have any prospective sites for a microforest or want to learn how you can help our program along by being a “forest steward”.