Awareness raised through fruitful planting, planning

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

In celebration of Arbor Day, the culinary arts department with Buildings and Ground planted 10 fruit trees in the department’s garden behind the Applied Arts Building Friday at noon.

Contra Costa College Interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh gave the opening speech about the importance of trees to a group of about 50 students and faculty standing in the beaming afternoon sunlight.

“Trees are essential to our world and offer a wide range of benefits to our environment,” Mehdizadeh said. “Just looking around and seeing all the trees is already helping me breathe better.”

She said the 10 fruit trees that were planted will help reduce pollution, prevent erosion, attract more wildlife, save energy and provide general beautification of the garden in the long term.

Glenn Scott, math professor and Sustainability Committee member, said, “Aside from making this terraced part of campus more beautiful, this is a great way to show that the (culinary arts) program is working toward becoming sustainable.

“(Culinary) students will be able to work in the garden, pick fresh fruit to cook with and serve it in the (Three Seasons) restaurant.”

Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said the students in the program are learning how to combine environmental sustainability while working in a kitchen.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said, “In three years these trees will start producing fruit and once that happens (students) will be able to use them in the restaurant.”

King said the 10 trees planted in the terraced garden were a purple crush hybrid plum, sweet cherry, Asian pear, red Bartlett pear, yellow crush apricot hybrid, sweet merlot plum, two lime trees and a mystery tree.

“We’ll know what that mystery fruit is in three years,” he said. “Until then it will keep us in suspense.”

HSI/STEM Office assistant Ysrael Condori said, “(CCC’s) culinary department uses some of the produce that is grown in the garden and I think that is really cool.”

King said, “But if you don’t like trees or Arbor Day, then come for the food.”

Students from Baking 120 and Cooking 214A and B classes prepared beef kabobs, calzones and fruit water for attendees of the Arbor Day tree-planting celebration.

Scott said he was informed about the Arbor Day celebration by attending the monthly Sustainability Committee meetings every first Thursday of the month at 7 a.m. in the R Building, in between Lot 10 and the temporary Bookstore.

Condori said, “Sustainability is something that our students should be aware of and events like (Arbor Day) do a good job to promote (the Sustainability Committee’s) efforts.”

King said his department used $150 from their budget to purchase the trees from Home Depot.

Dr. Susan Lee, LAVA Division dean, said, “(The Arbor Day tree- planting) is great. I love that our students are up-keeping this garden and making (CCC) an even better environment.”

Mehdizadeh ended her speech by quoting John Muir, an environmentalist advocate who founded the Sierra Club and protected the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park.

She said, “It has been said that trees are imperfect men and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.

“They go wandering forth in all direction with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day and through space, heaven knows how fast and far.”