Sustainable Claremont ‘branches out’ to plant trees in Pomona

by Andrew Alonzo |

Saturday morning packed quite the workout for Nicole Lang and her 45 green volunteers. Beginning at 9 a.m., Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew program manager, along with the volunteers, spent about four hours digging and doing some heavy lifting at Pomona’s Ganesha Park, helping the city and environment by planting trees.
Most know Sustainable Claremont has been in action for the City of Trees since its March 2009 inception but in 2017, Sustainable Claremont established the Green Crew, an urban forestry program to plant, oversee and sustain the City of Trees’ trees.
“Since we’ve planted so much in Claremont, now we have branched out to other cities that really need [trees],” said Lang, who has been Green Crew program manager since 2019. “We decided to collaborate with Pomona because they are a city that really needs more canopy coverage and of course with our climate crisis getting worse and [temperatures] getting hotter each year, it’s really important that we plant as many trees as possible in areas that need it most.
“We reached out to the city and the city provided us with different parks and areas that needed more canopy coverage. The city [of Pomona] chose the spots, we coordinated the residents and got our trees planted,” Lang continued.
The trees planted on Saturday included 10 different species that ranged from red pines, red oaks, coastal oaks and more. The newly planted trees were said to be grant funded through California Relief, CalFire and California Climate Investments, according to Lang.
Saturday’s meetup was the second tree planting effort of the year for Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew, its first was in October when the crew went to neighboring Glendora. Between 2017 and 2018, Lang explained, the Green Crew hosted a tree planting each month. However, since COVID-19 upended theirs and all of Claremont’s city programs in 2020, the crew has not had a tree planting for almost a year.
Since recently returning to planting, Lang said it has felt amazing to help the cities as well as the environment again.
“It feels great, especially when it comes to environmental action — to do something that you know there’s a tangible effect,” she explained. “You can come, show up and plant your trees for the day, get a nice little workout. You feel good, you’re outside. And it’s nice especially for the people who are residents here to come out and see the tree planted and then they can continually come back to it and see it as it grows.”
As the 45 volunteers worked in Ganesha Park and along White Avenue, it did not take long for Pomonans to notice the group’s efforts. Tom Garcia, a resident who lives off Alameda Street, came walking down from his home, enthusiastic about the incoming greenery.
“Well, you don’t see people doing this anymore. It’s very unusual and it’s nice to see people taking up that cause. I mean more trees are better,” Garcia said. “We do need some trees along the street here and nowadays with all the noise pollution and stuff, these trees seem to absorb a lot of that. They’re going to really fill in nicely.
It’s also, just for the neighborhood and we have all this traffic here [on White Ave.] and it’s just a nice thing to have.”
Using teamwork and tools provided by the Green Crew, Liam Kilby, Nicholas San Juan, Seth Silva and Peter Trinh planted four trees along the south end of White Avenue before moving into Ganesha Park for the final hour of planting. Among the group of friends, three of the four were students from the University of La Verne who came out to help as part of their Learning Through Community Service course.
All agreed the morning project was intense work — even though it sounded easy on the flyer. San Juan said the morning not only taught the friends how to properly plant a tree, but it also showed them how meaningful planting a tree can be to citizens and the environment.
“A lot of people see work like this as not really impactful, they don’t really think how it will impact the future enough because I think a lot of people are stuck in the mindset of instant gratification and don’t really think of the long term,” San Juan explained. “A lot of these trees that we planted, they won’t be like the [fully grown] tree behind us and how big that is, but it will be like that in maybe 20 to 25 years. It will definitely help out the environment and a lot of people.”
By the time Saturday’s eerie fog subsided around 1 p.m., 35 brand new saplings stood in and around the Pomona park, freshly planted thanks to the participants’ efforts. The weekend’s volunteers included members of Sustainable Claremont’s Green Crew, students from service clubs at Walnut and Diamond Bar high schools, University of La Verne students, Girl Scouts from Troop 15824 in Pomona, and numerous community members.
Lang gave thanks to the many volunteers who donated their time and explained that their effort will help us all in the long run.
“Trees are super, super important. As I said, as our climate crisis begins to worsen, I think trees provide us with so many benefits that people don’t necessarily realize [them],” Lang said. ‘I kind of hate the phrase ‘save the earth’ … It’s really ‘save the hsumans.’ The tearth is going to be here regardless, it’s whether or not it’s an inhabitable earth for us. Whether there’s humans living on it, whether we have trees and animals.”
The Green Crew is plotting their next tree planting project and Lang shared that the group hopes to return to their monthly planting schedule in 2022. For more information about Sustainable Claremont or the Green Crew, visit
“I think of course it’s important to plant trees. Not only that, but it’s important for everybody to be a part of our community for us,” Lang said. “It takes an effort from all of us to keep our trees growing, to get them in the ground and it’s important that we work together as a community to solve the issues that we are facing due to our drought and the climate crisis.”


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