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Widespread tree planting takes place in Ceres
Garden Club partners in grant funded tree planting operation
Ceres firefighters await instructions along with with tree planting effort chairwoman Helen Condit and her son, Channce Condit, who was the co-chairman. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Ceres Garden Club celebrated an overwhelming turnout of volunteers on Saturday to plant Red Maple trees in parks and neighborhoods. The planting of the free trees was made possible by a grant administered by CalFire through the California Initiative to Reduce Carbon and Limit Emissions (CIRCLE).

"Never has a project touched so many within the community in such positive way," commented Garden Club president Berni Hendrix. "Homeowners were touched with volunteers coming onto their property to help them plant the trees. Neighbors were touched by neighbors working together to make their neighborhood healthier with added landscape beautification."

Volunteers included students of all ages, Boy Scouts, parents, grandparents, and volunteers from neighborhoods receiving trees and many from neighborhoods who did not receive trees.

The effort started last summer when members of the Ceres Garden Club walked door-to-door to offer trees to residents in neighborhoods selected by the Ceres Public Works Department. Residents not only had to grant permission for the planting but signed a statement saying they would accept responsibility to water the young tree with a minimum of 10 gallons per week for the first three years.

The objective of the CalFire Grant is to plant more trees to filter the air rendering it cleaner and healthier to breath. As a bonus is the increased property value for the homeowner, greater curb appeal in beautifying the community, and energy reduction for home heating and cooling costs from shade. The non-profit club received a donation from the grant for doing the legwork for securing the signed watering agreements, said Hendrix.

The trees became the property of the city, and are planted within the public utility easement that stretches 10 feet from the sidewalk.The city maintains the city trees located in neighborhoods and parks through a contract with professional arborists. Under contract with the city, West Coast Arborists employees were on hand Saturday to instruct volunteers on the proper method to plant the young trees.

Local professional certified arborist Daniel Bote of Ceres volunteered over 50 hours with the club to walk door-to-door getting agreements signed. Bote also paid his staff from Central Valley Trees and Landscape Services to participate in the project. Additionally, Bote headed up a team of volunteers to plant trees on Saturday.

Ryan Thornberry, owner of California Landscape & Supply Nursery, also volunteered and planted trees.

Hendrix said her club "honors the community support and dedication" rendered by both California Landscape & Supply Nursery and Bote's Central Valley Trees and Landscape Services as a preferred local business.

The efforts of Helen Condit, chairperson of the free tree project, are credited for the strong turnout for the tree planting. Her son, Channce Condit, served as co-chairman and organized teams to canvas the targeted neighborhoods.

Ted Hawkins, vice president of the Ceres Garden Club was the spokesperson at the Celebration ceremony.

The planting event on Saturday included dedication of one tree planted in Smyrna Park to the late youth baseball coach Luis Malagana who was fatally shot earlier this year.