Planting new roots
A community garden organization in San Antonio’s East Side will celebrate Texas Arbor Day the first weekend of November with a mass tree planting and giveaway and by launching a new farmers market.
While many communities nationwide observe Arbor Day in the spring, Texas offers its version of Arbor Day on November 4, when the weather is more optimal for planting and sustaining, organizers say.
In honor of Texas Arbor Day, San Antonio nonprofit Gardopia Gardens will expand its tree planting initiative this year with a goal of planting 1,000 fruit and other trees on 100 sites citywide. Planting will officially begin on November 4 and continue over a four-month period.
According to a news release, the initiative involves Gardopia Gardens partnering with various educational and community organizations as well as sustainably-minded businesses, such as The CO-OP SA, which will be planting 10 trees along Wurzbach Parkway and O'Connor Road.
From 4 to 7 pm on November 5, Gardopia Gardens will also host a community tree giveaway for the public. The news release said the trees — a mix of pomegranate, pear, fig, peach, plum, orange, lemon, lime, olive, live oak, Mexican sycamore and more — will be provided by San Antonio's Parks and Recreation Department, along with other partners, as needed.
Gardopia Gardens representatives said the tree giveaway and its resulting influx of newly planted fruit trees will positively benefit neighborhoods, especially those experiencing food scarcity.
Community garden representatives also said, one day, the newly planted trees will provide a much needed canopy to help counteract the heat island effect that growing population endures each spring and summer.
"The trees will help sequester carbon to address climate change. This is important because a lot of areas in San Antonio have a low tree canopy and so they have higher electric bills and a lot of these same areas are also food insecure. We may not see the shade, but we know the future generations will,” Gardopia Gardens founder Stephen Lucke said in a statement.
According to the release, when Gardopia Gardens first began its tree planting initiative in 2020, they planted 500 trees and the same again in 2021. This year, they intend to double that number.
At the same time as the November 5 onsite tree giveaway, Gardopia Gardens will host a new farmers market, which will offer fresh vegetables grown in the garden. The market will be open 9 am to 4 pm every Saturday, with plans to expand days and hours of operation, the release said.
Lucke stated the new store will help his group’s micro farm become sustainable and create a few jobs for the community.
Over the last few years, Gardopia Gardens has made a name for itself by offering programs and services to educational, commercial, and residential communities, providing tools, materials and best practices to ensure their sustainability and to help fight the local epidemic of obesity-related diseases and environmental issues.
“Gardopia Gardens is in a good place and continues to grow. At some point, we have aspirations beyond the garden to make sure the work we're doing is truly going to last for the long termm” Lucke said.