Trees Donated to San Bernardino Nonprofit to Memorialize Veterans

The last of the trees from SCE’s Auberry Nursery were given to The Guardian Project so they can be planted in the name of veterans.

Eleanor Torres remembers her excitement when the first truckload of trees from Southern California Edison arrived at the Incredible Edible Community Garden’s nursery in San Bernardino.

“Then the trucks just kept coming and coming and coming,” recalled the Community Garden’s co-executive director. “First two trucks came every week, then in the last week, trucks came two times a day.”

When it was all over, SCE had donated 10,470 trees ranging in size from seedlings to 15 gallons. It was a bonanza Torres still doesn’t quite believe.

“The community is so grateful for this whole thing,” she said.

“This whole thing” was an idea Torres came up with when she heard SCE was closing down its Auberry Tree Nursery in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and giving away the last of its trees.

Torres’ group, the Community Garden project, is a nonprofit that helps build community gardens and plant trees throughout San Bernardino County. In 2013, the group began working on projects built by and for veterans including the Veterans Living Memorial Garden, a tree garden, at California State University, San Bernardino.

Torres was looking for a way to expand on that veterans’ effort when she heard about the SCE tree giveaway. She wanted to launch The Guardian Project, a nonprofit effort that allows people to sponsor trees to be planted and named in memory of a veteran, living or deceased.

But Torres needed trees and she had no guarantees SCE would select her program. Demand for the trees was strong with requests coming in from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara.

“I told SCE we would even take what’s left over,” Torres said. “We have nothing here in San Bernardino.”

Teryle Sandridge, SCE’s Auberry Tree Nursery supervisor, was sympathetic, especially since The Guardian Project will memorialize veterans.

“I held back what trees I could,” he said.

Sandridge initially thought it would be about 8,500, including 3,500 15-gallon trees. But as they loaded the trucks, the number grew. He eventually shipped nearly 10,500 trees valued at over $233,000. SCE also provided $20,000 in nursery materials.