Patchel is a volunteer for many local organizations. He has promoted the value of urban trees and helped dig planting holes with kids at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Boys and Girls Club of Wilkinsburg. As a member of the American Chestnut Foundation, Patchel helps to hybridize Chinese and American chestnuts, taking care of seedlings until they become trees. To benefit the Men’s Garden Club of Pittsburgh, he sharpens pruners and other tools annually in a tent at the Phipps Conservatory plant sale, and has attended all the tree plantings for the 500 Tree Initiative in Wilkinsburg, a program of the NMRWA.
The Alliance for Community Trees is a national organization dedicated to supporting urban forestry. Each year they give an award to an outstanding volunteer working to improve their community and neighborhood with trees.
The NMRWA was created in 2001 to restore and protect the area of Nine Mile Run that flows through the East End, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and Swissvale. Much of the stream is underground, but 2.2 miles runs through Frick Park, and the group touts its recovery efforts there as “one of the largest and most successful urban stream and wetlands restorations in the United States,” which was completed in 2006.
Patchel, who has been part of the NMRWA since its beginning, is credited with many volunteer events for the group each year, particularly garden and tree plantings. The group also cites “his horticultural knowledge and vast range of experience to teach other volunteers about proper tree planting and pruning techniques, soil composition, plant taxonomy, and proper tool usage and safety.”
Patchel says he is most proud of helping with tree plantings along Penn Avenue, and says working with the Boys and Girls Club has been the most enjoyable.
“It is fun to see the kids just learning to use a shovel, rake or some other hand tool,” he says. Of the many kids he’s introduced to the environmental cause throughout the years, Patchel adds, “I hope they would get involved in any way that would help improve the only earth like planet we know of.”
Source: Larry Patchell, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association