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A tree for Luther Burbank

  • From left, Thea Schwarcz, Avery Reed and Cypress Nickelson of Mulberry Farm, a Waldorf school in Santa Rosa plant a fruiting cherry tree that will be used for rootstock, Wednesday March 6, 2013 at the Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Farm in Sebastopol as they celebrate Arbor Day. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Arbor Day and Luther Burbank were the focus of attention Wednesday as scores of people gathered at the famed botanist's historic Gold Ridge Farm near Sebastopol.

Though California's Arbor Day is traditionally March 7, the farm combined that celebration with Luther Burbank's March 6 birthday.

"I think it's the biggest crowd we've ever had," said Fred Bollinger, a volunteer for over 20 years at the farm.

Arbor Day At Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Farm

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The ceremony began with the planting of a cherry tree by farm volunteers and school children. Classes from Parkside Elementary School and the Mulberry Farm School participated.

"I liked it a lot," said Samantha Church, 7, a second grader at Parkside. "The best part was planting the tree."

A presentation by the Bay Area-based Tree Circus team of Tim Womick and Chad Brey delighted the younger audiences. Tree Circus encouraged the kids to take care of trees and reminded them that they could "make a difference."

"Promoting education like this is really important," said Womick, who previously served as a spokesperson for the National Tree Trust. "But it's just not high on the agenda list."

Jenny Sortino, a second grade teacher at Parkside Elementary, heard about the event through a friend and thought her class could benefit. "I like to give my class as many different experiences as possible," said Sortino.

Light showers prompted an early end to the circus entertainment, and kids rushed inside the farmhouse to celebrate Burbank's birthday with cupcakes.

"Burbank is such a great role model," said Womick. "The man is a legend."

(Staff Writer Melody Karpinski can be reached at 521-5205 or Melody.Karpinski@pressdemocrat.com.)


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