Many SLCC students are concerned with environmental issues here in Utah, but political solutions are often frustratingly elusive. TreeUtah offers a more hands-on approach for anyone who wants to make a difference.
TreeUtah is a local nonprofit organization that, since 1990, has invited volunteers to become involved through environmentally focused projects. The group’s main focus over the past two decades has been ecological restoration and urban forestry. Since its inception, TreeUtah volunteers have planted over 132,000 native trees and shrubs along the Jordan River.
“We’ve had ecological restoration work both on the Jordan River and in the canyons over the years with the forest service. We’ve worked with most of the parks departments when they’ve done major tree planting projects,” Vaughn Lovejoy said, TreeUtah’s community orchard program coordinator. “We’ve also done plantings in low-income neighborhoods, where we’ve found funding, then we go in and we can either help them plant shade trees in their yards, or fruit trees to grow food.”
In recent years, TreeUtah has expanded its programs to include the development of community orchards. These three sites, located in Rose Park, West Valley City and South Jordan are designed to be places where groups and individuals can learn how to integrate fruit trees into their local ecosystem.
Members of TreeUtah hope that, through showing examples of sustainable gardening, communities can learn how to grow their own food as well as enrich their neighborhoods.
“TreeUtah is a very good learning experience. It’s just really calming. You’re outdoors, you learn about nature, and how everything works in the best interest of us,”Audrie Bennett said, SLCC student and TreeUtah intern.
SLCC students don’t have far to go to visit one of TreeUtah’s community orchards. One is located at Redwood Park, just a few miles north of the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Another, dubbed the “EcoGarden,” is a bit further north, next to the Day-Riverside Library at 10th North, just east of Redwood Road.
The EcoGarden is host to a huge variety of organically grown fruit and vegetable plants and is open to the public. Visitors can see everything from lettuce and grapes, to artichoke and kiwi. Those who are looking for a bit of guidance can also check out the EcoGarden Manual from the adjacent library, which can be helpful for both horticultural experts and curious beginners alike.
TreeUtah also regularly hosts tours of the community orchards for those interested in learning sustainable gardening techniques, or those who just want to help out.
More information about TreeUtah, as well as a schedule of TreeUtah sponsored tours and events can be found at treeutah.org.