livingind1_RMIn April 2010, UL Lafayette was awarded the title of Tree Campus USA and was one of five colleges across the country selected by the national Arbor Day Foundation to host a tree-planting event where students and community volunteers planted 43 trees that now provide shade to the heart of the campus. This year, they decided to aim even higher.  

Instead of simply planting trees to enhance the canopy and beauty of the university grounds, Mike Hess, UL’s manager of grounds services, decided the foliage should be practical and productive as well. In early March, he and his crew began strategically planting more than 30 fruit trees along well-traveled paths on campus. Some of these trees, such as the peach tree in front of Rougeou Hall located on East Lewis Street, are already producing fruit.

This truly unique idea began when Hess planted a satsuma tree in his own front yard. As the branches filled with fruit, he noticed some of the neighborhood children picking afternoon snacks from it and encouraged them to take as many as they could eat. Shortly thereafter, he was approached by UL horticulture student Jacob Delahoussaye, as well as several members of Trees of Acadiana, with a similar proposal: Plant fruit-producing trees on campus so that students can pick free, healthy snacks on their way to and from classes.

As part of the university’s endeavor to obtain another Tree Campus USA designation in 2011, UL — in a joint effort with the Boy Scouts, specifically Eagle Scout Mark Andries — planted trees containing a wide variety of fruits, including satsumas, oranges, ruby red grapefruits, peaches, apples, avocados and loquats (or Japanese plums). Even a blueberry bush has been planted on President Joseph Savoie’s front lawn for the students’ enjoyment.

Savoie explains that trees have been a significant and valuable element on campus since January 1, 1901, when UL’s first president, Dr. Edwin Stephens, planted approximately 100 live oaks on the property to commemorate the dawn of the 20th century.

“UL Lafayette’s campus is beautiful because of the efforts of individuals who, in the past, wanted to preserve and enhance our natural resources. By planting these trees, we are carrying on that tradition,” says Savoie. “They have come to symbolize our faith in the future and our desire to provide subsequent generations with an environment that reflects the natural beauty of Louisiana.”

According to plans, this natural beauty will only continue to increase as Hess and his crew begin planting fragrant trees around campus sometime next year in an effort to enhance not only the sites, but also the scents of the university grounds.

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