MelanieSteadman

Bringing Trees Back to Life

For 12 years Melanie Steadman commuted back and forth from Wasaga Beach, a small town located along the rugged, tree-lined shores of Georgian Bay to Toronto, working as a graphic designer for one of Canada’s largest and oldest retailer. Already feeling limited to what she could do artistically in the corporate world, Steadman coincidentally came across an image of a beautiful live-edge harvest table while flipping through a magazine at her desk.

“It looked like a tree, like someone had sliced a knife down a log and made this table and I thought well how hard is that? I live in an area where there are all sorts of trees, I think I could probably do this myself,” said Steadman.

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She began driving down dirt roads and looking in her friends’ backyards in search of a fallen tree to build her first tree table. She quickly realized the predicament of finding fallen trees on her own and began seeking out local arborists. In the past few years, vast areas of forests surrounding the Georgian Bay area particularly in Wasaga Beach and Collingwood, have been converted into subdivisions and much to Steadman’s dismay, she learned that most of these cut-down trees end up as firewood. So along with fallen trees, Steadman decided to rescue these logs.

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“I realized that most of the logs that were available were being sold as firewood and once I cut into one and saw how gorgeous the wood was, I couldn’t believe that this was going into a fireplace! So I decided that I was to rescue those trees and keep their true essence,” said Steadman.

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Now seven years later since founding Tree Green Team, Steadman’s unique live-edge furniture which now includes vanity sink tables and benches sell as far away as California and are also at various Starbucks Coffee shops around the greater Toronto area.

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She also opened the first retail showroom for Tree Green Team in May 2013, located in downtown Collingwood, Ontario. Much of the Tree Green Team success has been due to an upward trend in the “reclaimed” or “salvaged” look in contemporary furniture. Unfortunately as Steadman explains, a lot of “reclaimed” or live-edge furniture that sells at major big-box stores are made from unsustainable Rainforest wood and imported from Asia.

“We only make tables according to how many logs are available locally, currently we make five tables every week. We do not cut down any tree for the purpose of making a piece of furniture.” explains Steadman.

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“When you’re buying a table from us, you are taking part of our process. We let you know what tree we are currently working with. We don’t have slabs on hand that you can choose from. If we’re working with maple or walnut at the moment you can order a piece from the log. You can choose stain and finish but in the end every table has its own fingerprint and will look different.”

This short film was commissioned by EnviroCare which only use 100% recycled paper for their line of bathroom and kitchen paper products. Filmed, edited and produced by Sivana Vythi.

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