While we were thrilled about the recent rainfall, we must admit we were a little nervous about how it would impact last Saturday’s fruit tree distribution festival at Roger Jessup Park in Pacoima. We needn’t have worried.
Enthusiasm and dedication trumped the grey skies: we distributed more than 800 bare-root trees to local residents and in the process helped create a food forest in this under-canopied community in our city. We worked alongside hardworking sponsors and volunteers from Bank of America, Pacoima Beautiful, MEND, Felipe Fuentes, Project Youth Green, Alex Padilla, Hubbard, Holy Rosary, Nury Martinez, Disney, Starbucks, and even a few of the charming Laker Girls.
Bright and early on Saturday morning Starbucks team leader Tim Douglas showed up with an impressive 32 highly-caffeinated volunteers, who did everything from direct traffic to help prep the trees for distribution. One such volunteer was Jamie Mueller, who arrived in a bright pink ski cap and claimed she was mostly a homebody but didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to volunteer with Tim and TreePeople. “Once you get some coffee in you and see your friends, it’s great being outside. I love it. And who wouldn’t want a nectarine tree?”
Not to mention a peach, plum, or apricot tree! All four varieties were available but regardless of your choice, every one came with a special green tag attached. The tags explained that the festival was supported in part by the generosity of an anonymous donor in loving memory of Dr. George A. Roberts, who passed away last year at 93 and served as Chair for United Way, volunteered with Little League, founded the American Society for Metals Materials Education Foundation, and created a scholarship program for materials science students.
Given Dr. Roberts work with young people in particular, it felt appropriate that Saturday’s participants were greeted by Pacoima Beautiful’s Youth United Towards Environmental Protection [YUTEP] group, who set up a cheery booth right out in front. Juicing oranges for fresh-squeezed juice and selling their clever “carrot” topped chocolate cupcakes, the group came out to cheer everyone on and raise money for an upcoming camping trip. They also brought along an adorable four-month-old pughuahua [pug + chihuahua] puppy named Dino, who almost made us wish we were distributing puppies instead of trees!