New Trees Take Root in Watts

It’s 8:30 on a Saturday morning. The late summer sun beats down on a grid of blacktop. It’s already hot enough that the stop sign at the end of the block is almost hidden by a mirage. But something is different about today. Trees line the sidewalk on both sides of the street, waiting to bet let out of the cramped nursery pots that they’ve known their entire lives, and given a new home in the soil. These trees are about to find their new forever homes along three blocks of Croesus Avenue in Watts. With a little love from TreePeople volunteers, these trees will grow to bring canopies of much needed shade and clean air to Watts residents.

“It’s so wonderful to be a part of this,” said Eileen Garcia, Regional Manager of South East Los Angeles at TreePeople, whose team is working with the community to bring over 1000 trees to Watts. “We’re out here planting trees because it’s hot!”

The volunteers gather at the beginning of the block. TreePeople staff in bright yellow vests break down what it takes to put each tree into the ground and how to care and nurture the trees so they get a head start in their new homes. The clang of shovels and the sifting sand echoes through the neighborhood. It’s hard work, but it’s good work. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty and seeing a greener world grow from your fingertips. Soon the din of steel and exertion gives way to the sound of a gentle drip as the volunteers welcome the trees with a house warming gift of 15 gallons of fresh, cool water. 

The process repeats itself all morning until this new grove in our urban forest stretches down the block and all the way through the next. But this isn’t where the story ends. Throughout the planting season TreePeople, TreePeople volunteers and the residents of Watts will be planting hundreds of trees across Watts — and those trees will be cared for by TreePeople for years to come. These trees are a promise that everyone deserves cooling shade and clean air to breathe and together we can create lasting change.

This critical work can’t be done without your support. To find a volunteer event near you, visit TreePeople.org/volunteer. To make a donation to support our greening initiatives, visit TreePeople.org/donate.

TreePeople staff and volunteers planting a tree in Watts, CA

By Adam Thomas

As staff photographer and videographer, Adam brings a decade long passion in telling people's stories to TreePeople. From the joy of a tree planting to the behind the scenes efforts of our policy advocacy and restoration work, Adam captures it through his lens so it can be shared with the world. When he's not behind the camera, he can most likely be found curled up with his cat Kinsella.