PIEDMONT -- Planting trees purifies the air, provides shade, beautifies the landscape and can produce fresh fruits for enjoyment with a simple pluck.

The town will celebrate the worldwide observance of Arbor Day with a bushel of activities that includes speakers, refreshments, demonstrations and tours of the edible gardens newly expanded at Beach Elementary School.

John Gibbs, architect for the Beach school garden, and park Commissioner Nancy Kent, architect for the city's portion of the garden, will discuss the joy of edible landscapes.

"This year's Arbor Day is a good example of Piedmont's tradition of public/private partnerships working to improve the city," emcee and Park Commission Chair John Lenahan said.

"Many volunteers helped make the Beach school garden possible, and both architects donated their services. This year's Arbor Day has something for everyone," he said.

A ceremonial apple tree will be planted by Beach Principal Julie Valdez and Mayor John Chiang, adding to the already bountiful garden at Beach near the Schoolmates building on city property adjoining the tot lot.

Three other apple trees, lime and lemon trees have been planted there, as well as strawberries, kiwi, blueberries and grape vines. Following the program, student ambassadors will lead tours of the newly planted gardens.


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Chiang will open the program with an explanation of Arbor Day history. Arbor Day (arbor in Latin means tree) originated in Nebraska City, Neb., by civic leader J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, when an estimated 1 million trees were planted that day throughout Nebraska, dubbing Nebraska the "Tree planter's state." It became a recognized holiday in 1885.

Morton planted the seed of appreciating and caring for trees, so that dozens of countries around the world now celebrate the day. According the state of Nebraska's historical website, Morton planted 200 elms, ash and linden trees on his property to show his love for trees.

In Piedmont, representatives from Whole Foods will talk about "farm to market to table" sustainable farming concepts. Local chef Jerry Jaksich, a Chez Panisse alum, will discuss "slow food and slow cooking." He is co-founder of the Ramen Shop, a new restaurant on College Avenue in Rockridge.

Partners for the Arbor Day event include the Piedmont Beautification Foundation, Highlanders Garden Club, Hoe and Hope Club, Cleary Brothers Landscaping, Diamond Tree Service and Tree Sculpture.

Jim and Carol Egoian of Twin Girls Organic Farm will provide refreshments, with contributions by Whole Foods Market, and park commissioners Jamie Totsubo and Patty Siskind. The event is co-hosted by the city of Piedmont and the Piedmont school district.

IF YOU GO
What: Arbor Day celebration by the city of Piedmont
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Beach Elementary School, 100 Lake Ave., Piedmont