The Bowdoin Office of Sustainability and the Bowdoin Organic Garden (BOG) teamed up to plant two semi-dwarf anjou pear trees in the gardens behind first year dorms Osher and West to celebrate Arbor Day.
The tree-planting ceremony, led by Office of Sustainability student-worker Maya Chandar-Kouba ’23, Associate Director of Sustainability Keisha Payson and the BOG Superintendent Lisa Beneman, took place on April 28. Attendees enjoyed refreshments and music, but for most, the trees were the main attraction.
“I just love trees,” Luisa Wolcott-Breen ’25 said.
The College hopes to gain Tree Campus U.S.A. status from the Arbor Day Foundation. Bowdoin will have to show proof of reaching five different standards to receive this recognition: establishing a campus tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, verifying the plan’s dedicated annual expenditures, observing Arbor Day and creating a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body. With the tree-planting complete, the ceremony met the standards for both observing Arbor Day and creating a service-learning project.
When asked about why the College wants to achieve this status—which can be applied for only once per year in December—Payson emphasized elevating the dialogue, conversation and education around the importance of trees.
“We have to check all these boxes to show that we are worthy … in becoming a Tree Campus U.S.A.,” Payson said. “This event is part of that.”
Chandar-Kouba, who has been responsible for creating a tree care plan and establishing the campus tree advisory committee, felt that connecting with the BOG would be the best way to move forward.
“We were mostly worried about logistically trying to get a tree in the ground, and we knew that the BOG had fruit trees, and it felt like the logical next step,” Chandar-Kouba said. “It is also good to get other Bowdoin organizations involved in all this.”
Beneman echoed Chandar-Kouba’s thoughts, adding that the timing was especially convenient after tragedy struck a previous fruit tree over the winter.
“[The Office of Sustainability] reached out to me for the Arbor Day event, but we also needed to replace a fruit tree that got hit by a plow truck this winter,” Beneman said. “It was a perfect match. We are glad to be able to replace the tree and happy to be a part of this Arbor Day celebration.”
The new trees are visible to any passersby on their way to Farley Field House, but they can easily be mistaken for two small sticks protruding from a newly soiled plot of dirt. Yet, according to Beneman, the grafted trees will be able to bear fruit in just four to five years and will stand six to eight feet tall when fully grown.
Going forward, the Office of Sustainability and the BOG plan to celebrate Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony every year.
“We just want to highlight the value of trees,” Payson said. “There are so many things that they do for us, and [we] would love to make it an annual thing that we celebrate.”