Project Tree Seeded

Project Tree Seeded


A longtime dream of mine is coming true this year. The Alameda Sun has funded a tree-planting effort here in Alameda. In today’s era of climate responsibility and such, it seems well past time for the newspaper industry to start giving back some of the trees we’ve been using lo these few centuries. So for all the New York Timeses, Wall Street Journals and San Francisco Chronicles out there, the Sun took one for the team. We forked over a $1,000 donation to the Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) last month to fund a tree-planting effort hereby dubbed “Project Tree.” 

In a strange twist of name-sakes, I was introduced to the ideal partner in this effort, Marla Koss, a deeply experienced fruit tree steward who couldn’t have been a better leader on the ABG side of things. And so the team of Koss and Kos ironed out some of the details and envisioned the project. A committee of Growers has since taken the lead, structuring an application process, setting up administrative details and ensuring they could devote the time and energy needed to get these trees the start they need. 

I suggested they stick to native species, drought-resistant trees, carbon dioxide vacuums, pollinator havens and no species known to cause problems. ABG stayed true to their mission devoting much of the attention to fruit trees and feeding fellow Alamedans. The trees are eligible to be planted on public land, in private yards, in curb strips and other places that receive approval – on the Main Island, on Bay Farm Island and on Coast Guard Island. 

The ABG committee stepped in and connected with Gretchen Doering, the garden overseer at Boys and Girls Club of Alameda, who will be among the first recipients of a tree courtesy of this newspaper. “They will receive a mandarin tree in the fall and an apple and a plum in late January or early February,” said Koss. “Officials at the club were over the moon when asked if they would like to be a part of this project.”

ABG has placed copies of the application in the local library branches, and notified their more than 500 members of the opportunity to get a tree. The trees are free, and there are a limited number. Applications will also be available at ABG’s booth at the Earth Day Celebration in Washington Park Saturday, April 23. Koss will be at the booth all day to answer questions about the program, help applicants figure out if they’re eligible, and help fill out the form. If you have the space and the inclination, simply fill out the application and start contributing to Alameda’s urban forest. Application deadline is April 30.

“We’re proud of the amount of work we put into this thought process and the application,” said Koss. “We have certainly done our best to cover all bases for getting these trees to homes where they’ll thrive.” I couldn’t agree more. 
Fruit tree species available from Project Tree are all self-pollinating, so they can be planted singly, and include: Apple – Fuji, Gala; Apricot – Blenheim; Fig – White Genoa; Mandarin – Owari Satsuma; Orange – Trovita; and Plum – Santa Rosa.

The non-fruit tree alternative will be the Purple-leaf Plum (Prunus Ceracifera), an ornamental member of the plum family which typically does not fruit (or fruits very little) in areas with mild winters. PG&E recommends it as one of their “Right Tree, Right Place” selection guide picks for our area. The Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute rates it as a “utility-friendly tree” with Oak Root Fungus resistance and excellent health, safety and environmental ratings, including: low potential for root damage and no known health hazards (allergies, toxicity, etc.). It is also known to attract bees.

So thanks, Alameda for your part in making this happen. Nothing at the Sun happens without the community’s support, so in a way, we have you to thank for this environmentally motivated effort to green our Island City. From newspapers we will make trees. 

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