Trafalgar Middle School staff, students and city officials celebrated Arbor Day by planting donated fruit trees at the school's student vegetable garden on Tuesday.
The city of Cape Coral donated two fruit trees, a lemon and a mango, to the school in commemoration of the city's 22nd straight year of certification as a Tree City USA community.
"That is quite an accomplishment for a city that 40, 50, 60 years ago the land was being cleared to raise the earth to build homes on," said Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman. "Consequently, it became necessary to plant trees here and say to those who come here that the quality of life is better in Cape Coral."
Trafalgar Middle School principal Dr. Michael Galbreath (left with shovel) is joined by garden club students, city and LCEC officials to reenact the planting of a tangelo tree on Arbor Day at the school's vegetable garden Tuesday.
The vegetable garden was given life last June when students went to principal Dr. Michael Galbreath asking to start a garden project.
"I said go for it," Galbreath related. "What I expected to see was a few square feet of garden, but it has grown to more than 20,000 square feet."
Area businesses and civic organizations pitched in to help prepare the soil, put down mulch, cultivate the worms to make it organic and plant the seeds. Through equipment and monetary donations, the school has accumulated tool and garden infrastructure valued at $25,000.
"The student garden has donated 3,900 pounds of fruits and vegetables to local soup kitchens and the Harry Chapin Food Bank and we've started to sell fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market," said Galbreath. "Our biggest thanks has to go to the students, more than 100 of them, who have met new friends and learned soil preparation, planting, tending and picking vegetables."
The goal at the beginning was to donate one ton of vegetables to the needy in the community, but by the end of the school term they will have exceeded two tons.
"We at LCEC take great pride in partnering with the community," said Diana Gilman, spokesperson for LCEC which donated one fruit tree.
Mayor Marni Sawicki proclaimed Tuesday as Arbor Day in Cape Coral and was joined by Councilmembers Lenny Nesta and Rana Erbrick in attendance.