Of the many activities held in recognition of KCU’s centennial, perhaps none will have a more lasting or beneficial impact on the local community and environment than the planting of 100 trees throughout the year in and around the Historic Northeast Neighborhood KCU calls home.
As part of the final installation on Nov. 29, a beautiful Asian Pear found a home in KCU’s orchard at Independence and Woodland Avenues, distinguishing itself as the 100th tree to be planted as part of the University’s 100 Tree Project, and symbolizing 100 years of academic excellence at KCU. Volunteers from KCU, the neighborhood, the Giving Grove and Scuola Vita Nuova elementary school were out in full force to ensure the project’s remaining 15 trees became a part of the orchard.
“We couldn’t have been more thrilled with the turnout for the final tree planting,” said Sara Selkirk, executive director of community/student activity. “KCU’s commitment to establishing 100 new trees on campus and in the Northeast Neighborhood was an exciting highlight of our centennial year and one that will continue to give back to the community for generations to come. We’re grateful to the Giving Grove for showing us the way and for the additional support from all of our community volunteers.”
Throughout the year, 67 KCU volunteers contributed more than 200 hours of service to plant trees within the neighborhood. In total, 68 fruit or nut-bearing trees began productive new lives in three community orchards and 32 landscape trees, including 12 flowering dogwoods (the state tree of Missouri) were planted as part of the campus and neighborhood beautification project. The trees were planted on four separate occasions throughout the spring and fall.
Once the fruit and nut-bearing trees reach maturity, the three orchards will yield more than 13,000 pounds of consumables annually. That’s over 394,000 pounds of food over the lifespan of the trees. In support of KCU’s commitment to improve the well-being of the communities it serves, food will be distributed to urban communities and the underserved in the area.
An added benefit, the trees will play a part in the fulfillment of KCU’s commitment to the environment. As each tree matures, it will absorb increasing quantities of airborne pollutants and release oxygen, via photosynthesis, back into the atmosphere. The fruit trees, especially, will provide habitat to pollinators such as bees.