As Arbor Day approaches, successful events like the 100 lemon trees planted in Chula Vista commemorating the city’s centennial shine as examples of what can be done.
Most of those 100 Eureka lemon trees planted in 2011 continue to flourish and serve as a living testament to the spirit of the tree-planting Arbor Day holiday.
“One hundred trees were sold to residents of Chula Vista for $10,” said Crystal Fairley of Chula Vista Garden Club who, along with Dennis Nouchi, were members of the city’s Committee of 100 Environmental Subcommittee who oversaw the centennial’s lemon tree-planting project with assistance from centennial manager Mary Marcdante.
“A few companies, including Cymer and Home Depot, made donations to support the effort,” said Fairley, who credited Fallbrook grower and nursery owner Bob Durling for supplying the 100 lemon trees for Chula Vista’s centennial.
“He’s the one who actually sold us the trees at a discounted price, so we were able to sell them in turn to whomever wanted to buy them,” she said.
Those who participated in Chula Vista’s centennial lemon tree planting were immortalized.
“A list of the tree owners was placed in a time capsule at the city,” noted Fairley.
It wasn’t a coincidence that lemon was the tree of choice for the centennial planting.
“Chula Vista was the lemon capital of the world – they’re all over the city,” pointed out another Chula Vista Garden Club member, Sandy Duncan.
“We wanted to replenish all the lemon trees,” said Duncan, adding, “Each tree was numbered. Two were planted in front of city hall.”
Duncan said centennial lemon trees were given as gifts or for other reasons.
“Some were given to the city in memory of somebody,” she said.
A review of the historical record proves Chula Vista’s claim of Lemon fame to be true.
In 1900 when there were only about 500 residents in Chula Vista, everyday life revolved around the then-unincorporated community’s 3,000 acres of citrus trees. Those trees had to be regularly irrigated, pruned, fumigated or picked by workers who back then were paid $1.50 for picking lemons by the box, up to 25 a day.
The Chula Vista Garden Club has continued its recent Arbor Day tradition, having planted trees for the past three years in honor of the holiday. In 2012, the Club planted fruit trees at the Veterans Home of Chula Vista.
“This year we will be planting a tree at the Norman Park Senior Center April 25 at 10 a.m.,” Fairley said.
Duncan added a ‘Forest Pansy’ Eastern Redbud tree will be the species planted at the senior center honoring the memory of Gloria Bunch, CVGC past president. A reception follows the program.
A presentation of an Arbor Day Proclamation will also be held at the Chula Vista City Council meeting April 23 at 2 p.m.