"It's really fun to be part of something you can go down the street and look at for years and years," said Susan Hamilton, board secretary of Mountain View Trees, which plants over 100 trees a year on public land in cooperation with the city, and provides workshops to help people plant trees on private property.
"Mountain View is known for how many trees it has," Hamilton said. "All that greenery puts a whole lot of oxygen in the air and takes out a whole lot of carbon."
Until recently, the group existed under the umbrella of Canopy, a Palo Alto non-profit that advocates for the urban forest. But recently Mountain View Trees has become independent, receiving its own 501(c)3 non-profit status so it can begin raising and spending funds as at sees fit, Hamilton said.
"We're a brand-new organization now," Hamilton said. "This is brand-new territory for us. We are totally on our own."
The group is now looking to grow beyond the dozen or so regulars who come to the group's workshops, planting events and tree walks. The group is open to suggestions for tree plantings, such as planting a memorial tree for someone who did "great things," Hamilton said.
The group was formed in 2006 in City Council member Ronit Bryant's living room as an advocacy group for trees, which the group says have many benefits. Trees make spaces more attractive, encouraging community-building activities, reduce "heat islands" and shade homes to reduce energy bills. Trees are even shown to help people "recover from illness more quickly, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure," according to the group's website.
Hamilton says homeowners have found the group's workshops taught by experienced arborists helpful in selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place, including a recent workshop at A-Z nursery at the east end of Crittenden Road. Putting a tree in the wrong spot could block the sun from potential solar panel locations, for example, or the roots could damage a home's foundation, depending on the species and location.
"There lots of people who say, 'I want to know what to plant in my backyard,'" Hamilton said.
"It's like going to school for free," she said.
November through January is about the best time of year to plant a tree, Hamilton said. That could mean more planting projects for the group, such as the cherry trees planted on the Shoreline Boulevard median island between Safeway and the Mountain View Buddhist temple at 575 Shoreline Blvd. The group also plated over a dozen redwoods in Cuesta Park a few years ago which are now "gigantic," Hamilton said.
Small children especially fond of tree planting and it's not uncommon to have to pry shovels from their hands when it's over, Hamilton said.
The group's next event is "Ask the Arborist" on Oct. 7 at the Mountain View farmer's market.
The group holds events about once a month, and holds monthly board meetings in the city library. More information is at mountainviewtrees.org, where you may sign up for the email list.