Saturday afternoon brought new life to residents of the Positano Apartments in Goleta. Thirty trees representing 10 different species were planted in the affordable housing complex by the nonprofit Goleta Valley Beautiful, which has been encouraging the community to go green — one tree at a time — since 1974.

“We chose to plant a variety of different trees to encourage diversity in the urban forest,” said Goleta Valley Beautiful executive director Ken Knight.

Saturday’s planting was part of Goleta Valley Beautiful’s series of NeighborWoods projects, which are helping to revitalize Goleta’s public housing complexes by beautifying the area and
increasing energy efficiency. This campaign is made possible, in part, by a $10,000 National NeighborWoods Grant from the Alliance for Community Trees and the Home Depot Foundation.

In attendance for the groundbreaking ceremony at 11 Camino de Vida were 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf; Assembly candidate Susan Jordan, representing her husband, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara; Jonathan Saul, district representative of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; and John Polanski, the housing development director for the Santa Barbara County Housing Authority.

Goleta Valley Beautiful plants roughly 500 trees per year through the selfless efforts of volunteers and sponsors. On Saturday, those volunteers included two student groups from UCSB, members of the Home Depot Foundation and the Alliance for Community Trees, and several of the 190 youths who live in the Positano complex.

“How wonderful it is for these kids to be able to see the fruits of their labor,” observed Wolf. “There’s nothing more important.”

Goleta Valley Beautiful volunteers water each newly planted tree for the first two to three years to ensure that they have the proper chance to grow and blossom for future generations.

“Don’t step on the soil,” Knight called out to a group of volunteers just before the finalization of the proceedings. “The key is to leave the soil loose enough to soak up essential nutrients.”

The volunteer youths seemed to understand that Knight wasn’t just talking about trees.

— Kevin McFadden is a Noozhawk contributor.