downtown watsonville tree planting
Ariana Lara (from right), Rozene Enloe and Camryn Crowley team up to plant a strawberry manzanita tree Wednesday morning on Main Street as part of a joint effort between the City of Watsonville, Studio Judy G and Watsonville Wetlands Watch. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Members of Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW) joined forces with Watsonville Public Works, Studio Judy G and others Wednesday to plant new trees in downtown Watsonville. 

The effort is part of the ongoing Watsonville Community Forest Project by the city to plant thousands of new trees around Watsonville to enhance the shade canopy.

The planting is running in collaboration with the current art exhibit at Studio Judy G, “Trees to Be” in downtown Watsonville. Judy Gittelsohn, gallery owner, said the show focuses on the beauty and importance of trees in the community with 50 other artists in a wealth of mediums.  

“This is the beginning of our downtown push,” said Jonathan Pilch, executive director of WWW. “This winter we are aiming to plant 70 trees around town. We are really pleased to be working with Judy. We’ve already planted over 650 trees.”

Park Maintenance Supervisor Jose Rocha called the group planting “a big plus for Watsonville. Getting trees back into the urbanization of our city will truly help with climate change, among other things.”

Also on Wednesday morning, Gittelsohn joined other volunteers to help plant several trees in a city parking lot off of Union Street.

“I’m so excited by this project,” she said. “The city is on board with this along with so many others.”

Pilch said crews were planting strawberry manzanita, gold medallion and Brisbane box trees, with the hopes of seeing more green in the city’s landscape.

“When I started in 2017 the tree canopy cover in Watsonville was 7.8%,” Pilch said. “It’s now at 9.7% and our goal is 30%.”

Gittelsohn added that 10% of sales from “Trees to Be” will be donated to Watsonville Wetlands Watch. The exhibit, which has pooled talent from New School, the Western Flyer Institute, Hope Services, and Watsonville Parks and Recreation, at 430 Main St. in Watsonville, runs through Feb. 29.

Pilch said that anyone wishing to welcome a new tree to their private home or business through the project can make contact at

downtown watsonville tree planting
Sean O’Connell of the Watershed Steward Program works with Jonathan Pilch, executive director of Watsonville Wetlands Watch, in planting one of several trees along Union Street. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian
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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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