By Maureen Robertson
When Craig Jung, Ramona Chamber of Commerce executive director and a member of the Ramona Rotary Club, heard Rotarians discussing what to do on Rotarians at Work Day, he had an idea that involved both organizations.
The San Diego Regional Urban Forests Council had offered a $1,000 grant to the chamber for trees, he said, so why not have Rotarians plant the trees?
With help from Ramona school district maintenance and operations supervisor Ed Anderson and groundskeeper Dan Swaim, the chamber received a list of trees to order for Ramona Community School and Ramona Elementary School, two schools that need more shade. With San Diego Gas & Electric donating and planting 20 trees last week at Ramona Elementary, the Rotary/chamber project designated 15 trees for Ramona Community School at 1010 Ramona St. and five around the playground used by kindergartners and special needs students at Ramona Elementary at 415 Eighth St.
A $406 donation from the Ramona Tree Trust paid for material to stake the trees, One Stop Equipment Rental and Landscape Supply Centers donated use of an auger, KD Donuts donated doughnuts, Quiznos donated sandwiches for lunch, water came from Ramona Disposal Service, and coffee was courtesy of the chamber.
On April 30, Rotarians at Work Day, the phyical labor began.
Joining a team of Rotarians were chamber president Jason DeLeo and his 2-year-old son Jaz, Swaim, Ramona High School Interact president Juan Villasenor and vice president Hannah Kramer, and Ramona resident Jack Riordan and his children, 6-year-old Lily, a Ramona Community first-grader, and 4-year-old Jackson. Also pitching in were San Diego Regional Urban Forests Council volunteers Lynnette Short, Danielle Campbell, Vince Mikulanis and Drew Potocki and Ramona resident Christiane Holmquist, a landscape designer and horticulturist. Ramona Tree Trust gave away T-shirts and information. The regional urban forests council, Ramona West End Fire Safe Council and Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County also set up information booths.
After volunteers planted nine Brisbane box trees and six patio maple trees at Ramona Community School, Rotarians, chamber ambassadors, and two urban forests council volunteers headed to Ramona Elementary to plant five liquid amber trees. The ground was rock hard and had to be drenched in water, even with the auger.
“I know trees will grow here, because there used to be trees here,” Swaim said as he softened the ground with water and volunteers sat on the auger to give more weight to start holes that others could shovel deep and wide enough to hold the trees.