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Want a free tree? Promise to water?
Red maples will be given to Ceres homes without any front-yard trees. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Free trees will be given to Ceres homeowners living between Whitmore Avenue and Hatch Road - or very close to it - who want to add beauty and shade and more oxygen to their neighborhood.

"This is a really great opportunity for Ceres," said Berni Hendrix, president of the Ceres Garden Club.

The trees are being made available as part of the California Initiative to Reduce Carbon and Limit Emissions (CIRCLE) program through a grant from CalFire. The planting is being done by the California Urban Forests Council (CaUFC) and West Coast Arborists.

Channce Condit has volunteered to spearhead the Ceres Garden Club's effort to find homes for 150 red maple shade trees on a first-come, first-served basis.

The free trees are intended for yards which do not have an existing shade tree. One tree per lot is available but corner lots qualify for two free trees. Property owners must give written authorization to accept through the Ceres Garden Club and water the new tree after it's planted. Authorization must be completed prior to August 30.

The club, said Condit, is able to obtain a $1,500 grant if they can get the 150 trees planted.

Volunteers will be going door-to-door after meeting at the Ceres Community Center at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 6 to get people signed up to take a tree.

"We just have to pretty much get people signed up to authorize us to put a tree in their front yard," said Condit. "It helps the home value and provides shade. Who wouldn't want a free tree? I'm going to get one in my front yard too."

Actual planting will take place on Oct. 22 by 100 volunteers who are now being sought to show up at 9 a.m. that day at Smyrna Park.

The tree will be checked on by an employee of West Coast Arborists and maintained for three years, and then the responsibility will be taken over by the city. For the first three years, CalFire is only asking residents to water the tree, especially during the first year. The funds from the grant will provide visiting the site 30 times in the three years to make sure it is being watering and that the tree is surviving well; mulching the tree; removing stakes after establishment period; giving the tree one structural pruning in the third year; and reestablishing tree wells as necessary.