Project Tree Taking Root

Kari Barnes  This intrepid group of planters all helped Alameda Sun-funded trees take root in Italo’s Garden at the Alameda Boys & Girls Club on Dec. 21.

Project Tree Taking Root


Earlier this year the Alameda Sun presented the Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) with a specific donation for a specific purpose (“Project Tree Seeded,” April 14). The idea was to seed a tree planting program in Alameda that would help restore and maintain the city’s urban forest. 

Since January, Marla Koss of the ABG, who you might call a fruit tree scientist, has established groundwork for planting 29 trees in various locations around the city as the Project Tree pilot program. 

On Dec. 21, the ceremonial launch of Project Tree took place when Koss brought three trees to “Italo’s Garden” at the Alameda Boys & Girls Club for the kids to plant. A team of young gardeners asked all the questions they had before planting the trees: an Osborne Prolific Fig, a semi-dwarf Owari Satsuma Mandarin and a semi-dwarf Trovita Orange, all carefully selected as trees the kids can easily maintain (they don’t grow too tall). Each will produce delicious fruits the club members can eat as part of their Seed to Table program, and, with care, will very likely survive until the young people who planted them reach age 50 or more. The trees were each purchased from a different local nursery: Encinal Nursery and Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda and Pollinate Farms in Oakland.

The garden is overseen by Gretchen Doehring, the Seed to Table director at the club. She and the kids were thrilled with the new residents of the garden, as well as the promise of three more bare-root fruit trees that will be planted in the spring. 

The garden was named for local architect and club board member Italo Calpestri earlier this year. He originally suggested the parcel be made into a garden after the new club building was constructed. 

Elsewhere in the city, Project Tree has helped a number of private residents add new trees to their yards. Koss established an application process in time for Earth Day that identified residents interested in supporting the program. Since then, Koss has held workshops with the tree recipients to share her extensive knowledge on caring for the trees. 

The project has taken on a life of its own. Both the Sun and the ABG have identified new sources of funding to continue this effort well into the future, along with unique opportunities coming up to support plantings at new developments, parks and other unique locations.

Eric J. Kos A young planter from the Alameda Boys & Girls Club gives the Trovita Orange tree its first drink of water at its new home on the West End.