I planted trees with Ojai Trees the weekend before Thanksgiving. My favorite volunteer activity. Over the years, I have helped to plant many trees all over the Ojai Valley. When I drive through town, I see trees I planted years ago. They are heathy and lovely, giving shade, oxygen and visual interest. Those trees will give joy not only to me, but to generations to come.

Trees sometimes thrive and other times they fail – just like people. The recent drought years and ongoing climate change make it difficult for some species to thrive in our valley. Too hot and too dry for nonnatives. But we still have many trees that are doing great.

Right now many trees show amazing fall colors. Season changes are subtle in our valley but trees let us know that fall has arrived. Bright red Chinese Pistache and Sweet Gum trees, golden Sycamores and Mulberry trees. The air is crisp and clear. The light early in the mornings and late afternoons is beautiful. I love living in Ojai, close to the mountains and the ocean. I am hoping for rain soon. Then the dust disappears, the trees get a respite and the air smells intensely. Trees heal my spirit and give me peace and hope. Right what I need in these difficult times of Covid-19. I am looking forward to our spring tree planting event and seeing more trees gracing our valley.

Contributed by Ojai Trees Board Member Gabriele Lashly who is pictured the second from right with her planting team.

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Did you ever wonder how a tree knows which way to grow? I have and it seems like they are hardwired.

“It’s really kind of mind-boggling,” says plant molecular biologist Chris Dardick

Check out this article from Knowledge Magazine at the link below.

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There will be 60 new Ojai street trees soaking up the winter rains after a new tree planting initiative takes place starting this fall. They’ll be the right trees planted in the right place providing shade, decreasing the heat island effect, and increasing rainwater capture in the years to come. Do you want one?      

“Ojai Trees will be partnering with The Center for Regenerative Agriculture and CREW to plant them,” said Garrett Clifford, president of Ojai Trees. “David White, CRA’s Executive Director, obtained this important grant from Cal ReLeaf to plant street trees in Ojai and Ventura.”

According to White the project, “Ventura County ReLeaf,” uses Prop 68 monies made available through CalFire to areas which suffered from extreme weather events, including the Paradise, Redding and Ventura County.

“CRA was already doing Thomas Fire regeneration work across Ventura County with grant support from the Ojai Women's Fund and Patagonia.” said White, who reached out to Cal ReLeaf for tree planting funds. “It took over a year and a half from an initial conversation with CalReLeaf representatives to sign the paperwork. The main grant partners are CRA, CREW, the Cities of Ventura and Ojai, Ojai Trees, Restore Ventura, and the Ventura Land Trust.” 

According to White, the new grant is for the planting of over 300 trees throughout western Ventura and Ojai. 

That’s where local organizations like Ojai Trees come in. White partnered with Ojai Trees because of their grass-roots approach, working with people who want trees and their experience planting over 60 street trees in 2008. 

Ojai Trees was a 2019 recipient of a Ojai Women's Fund Grant which made the school plantings possible under the program, “Shade for Ojai’s Children.” That program plants free trees in schools, pre-schools and community center grounds around the Ojai Valley, providing a cooler place to play, work, and learn for local children.

“This October alone 45 new Ojai trees went into the ground,” said Clifford. “This included two beautiful 24" box Tipus that we planted at Monica Ros School. We are looking forward to working with David to plant more trees in Ojai.”

All tree requests will go through Ojai Trees; their trained foresters will visit homes that request a street tree and help select the best tree for the location.  Ojai Trees will also review the homeowner’s responsibility to care for the tree. “It’s similar to adopting a pet from the County Animal Shelter”, said Clifford, “we want to make sure these trees are going to families who’ll care for them”.  “The care requirements are primarily during the first 5 years, as all the trees are natives and eventually can survive independently”.

“We will plant the trees using the CREW,” said White. “CREW is a great local resource. They train young people to provide labor for environmental restoration and tree planting projects. The bonus is green-collar jobs for youth and contributions to our restoration economy.” 

“With this grant, people can plant a tree and participate in a nature-based environmental solution,” said White. “It’s carbon banking, watershed protection and increasing community resilience with so many other positive effects. Over the last 500 years, we have a lost a tremendous amount of trees which has accelerated the drying of our landscape. Tree planting is key to using nature to slow climate change.”

This grant takes another step toward reforesting the Ojai Valley. If you are interested in a street tree in your yard please contact Ojai Trees at

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