Environment / Nature

Volunteers work on new landscaping at Aromas Sports Park

Rotary Clubs provide money and labor to add beauty to the grounds.
Jackie Munoz, Jessie O'Malley, Brad Bannister, and Bonny Seagraves. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Aromas Sports Park planting. Photo by Paul Goodman.
Bonny Seagraves. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Strawberry bush. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Trees to be planted. Photo by Robert Eliason.

A group of volunteers drawn from local Rotary Clubs came together on Nov. 13 to plant a variety of shrubs in an area near the residential fence line of the Aromas Sports Park.

Over a dozen people worked alongside Bonny Seagraves, treasurer of the Aromas Community Center Foundation, which manages the park.

“We are putting in around 100 different shrubs from 15-gallon containers today,” Seagraves said. “The idea is to plant them as a mixed hedge to enhance the walking trail here to add beauty to the park.”

The shrubs, provided by Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery, include native species such as California Wax Myrtle, Redbuds, and Strawberry trees. The holes were dug ahead of time by a tractor-driven auger. A drip irrigation system was installed to water the plants, but otherwise they will require little care.

“These are all low-maintenance plants,” Seagraves said. “They don’t have to be pruned or watered a whole lot. And they will provide a nice home for wildlife, which we want to preserve as much as we can.”

The park is a popular recreational destination for the area, with a field for outdoor sports, a dog park and walking trail. The dual purpose of the hedge is both aesthetic and to provide a barrier between the park and its neighbors. Most of these plants will top out between 10 feet and 15 feet to give the bordering houses the screening and privacy they want without blocking their view of the hills. 

Jackie Muñoz, the club service chairperson for the San Juan Bautista Rotary Club and former superintendent of schools for the Hollister/Aromas district, participated in the work at the park.

“In the late ’90s, the only place people had for activities like youth soccer, softball and Little League was at the school,” Muñoz said. “With the park, the community has this nice large area they can use and does not have to rely on the schools anymore. And it has become important for the community—there are always people out here enjoying it.”

A total of $12,000 was raised for the project by local Rotary Club members from “Area Six,” a group made up of the Gilroy, Gilroy Sunrise, Gilroy After Hours, Morgan Hill, Almaden, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista clubs. The planting was the second of two parts of this project, with the first part being the installation of a perimeter walkway earlier this year.

Rotary International is a worldwide organization of 1.4 million members in over 46,000 clubs. The yearly Rotary Club project is one small part of the organization’s charitable work, according to Cain.

“It’s really great how we come together collaboratively to do not just local community projects but larger international projects as well,” she said. “We have raised money for water wells, education, health projects, and we are eradicating polio throughout the world—there are only two countries that still have polio left.”

But today, the focus of the club is on dropping root balls into holes and filling them with dirt while dozens of children compete on the soccer field and dogs slowly walk on the brand-new path.

“I am so passionate about these trees,” said Annette Cain, the president of the San Juan Bautista Rotary Club. “Because of COVID, this project has been on and off for a while. But I am glad we are able to complete it and that I can be here taking part in this last phase.”


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.