The Garden District Civic Association’s Live Oak Love Collective is adamantly working to preserve the natural Southern charm and beauty of the neighborhood through its 164 oak trees.
GDCA launched the collective in 2017. The organization had been discussing the need to assist damaged trees for years, and when local tree preservation firmBayou Tree Service offered to donate funds and partner on the efforts, the group decided it was time to take action.
Today, the Live Oak Love Collective is focused on pruning, fertilizing and amending the soil for oak trees along Park Boulevard, Cherokee Street, Kleinert Avenue and Terrace Avenue—and has begun to make headway.
In January of 2021, Bayou Tree Service and the collective highlighted Garden District boulevards where trees were most damaged. Donations from neighbors made it possible for the organization care for 12 oak trees on two blocks that month, according to GDCA President Claire Pittman. And by the end of the year the collective was able to tend to 18 trees overall, according to a recent story from WBRZ.
This year, the collective has already wrapped work on its third neighborhood block, tending to Park Boulevard trees between Perkins Road and Terrace Avenue in early February, according to GDAC’s website.
There are no city funds to care for historic trees. And with the cost of pruning, mulching and tending to one tree totaling about $1,000, the collective estimates it needs to raise about $175,000 to complete its final task. Pittman describes the efforts as “ma and pa,” relying on donations from neighbors (and tree lovers) to support their mission.
“It’s voluntary to pay the dues,” Pittman says. “It’s voluntary to participate in any of the activities. I felt like this campaign would be not only great for the neighborhood and great for the ecosystem in the neighborhood, but also hopefully something that brings the community together.”
Outside of aiding oak trees, the collective meets through community events to spread its mission and get more people involved. Another purpose of their community events is to create a community and connect with neighbors because it is “one of the first steps to having good security in your neighborhood,” Pittman says.
In the future, the organization hopes to help neighbors who are elderly or cannot afford to plant trees on their property. A possible consideration for the collective is also to expand their mission to Baton Rouge neighborhoods outside of the Garden District, but this cannot happen until there is more support from public media and the city, Pittman urges.
“Making a difference and making change are building blocks,” Pittman says. “If you want change, it takes a lot of people to make it happen.”
To donate or learn more about the Collective, visitgdcabr.org/ or find them on Instagram@gdcabr.