Shovels in hand, volunteers headed to Girard Park in Lafayette on Saturday for a tree-planting project that will bear fruit for visitors for years to come.
In a partnership among Festivals Acadiens et Cré oles, Lafayette Boy Scout Troop 405 and tree conservation group TreesAcadiana, about 30 volunteers and 15 Boy Scouts planted fruit-bearing trees around the 33-acre park.
“We think this is going to be really nice,” said TreesAcadiana President Heather Warner-Finley. “Families could come, relax and pick fruit with their kids. I think it makes for a really attractive place to be.”
Volunteers gathered about 9 a.m. Saturday, shovels in hand, to plant the roughly 60 citrus, fig, persimmon, Japanese plum and pecan trees.
“The nicest sight is to see an 80-year-old planting a tree,” said volunteer Joann Pugh, a retiree and gardening enthusiast who was among volunteers shoveling and planting throughout the morning.
“This is great, and they’re all fruit-bearing,” she said. “These are going to give back to the community lots of shade.”
The project was headed up by Eagle Scout candidate Stewart McFayden, who organized the planting as his Eagle Scout project.
“I think it’s highly important because all the people who come to Girard Park will be able to come and pick this fruit,” McFayden said. “They’ll have a better experience in the park.”
Troop leader Harold Shoeffler recommended the project to McFayden after he was contacted by officials with Festivals about planting more trees around the park. The Cajun and Creole music festival helped with the cost of buying the trees. The total cost for the project was about $1,000.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette environmental science professor Jim Foret assisted McFayden and the troop in figuring out the best spots for planting the fruit trees.
Lafayette city government donated the mulch as well.
TreesAcadiana is a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the region’s urban forests.
“Trees are not something you just plant for yourself,” TreesAcadiana member Joe Katz said. “It’s something you plant for the future generations.”