Husband and wife Joe Imhoff and Sara Tekula, from Hawaii, are traveling the country with goal of planting at least one indigenous tree in each state of the U.S. Last week, they made a stop in Northwest Tucson to mark a significant event.
The mesquite tree they planted was in memory of those killed or injured on Jan. 8. It was planted at the Northwest YMCA Park, located near Mona Lisa and Magee roads.
The duo, who run the organization Plant a Wish, are planting native trees in each state.
“The goal is to get people to plant natives in their yard and in their parks,” Tekula said, “and to know the difference, to know why it is important to select native trees and why it’s beneficial. In each place, the trees have different stories to tell, but all of them, the native ones, have adapted over many years so they do the job the right way.”
The couple did not simply plant a tree in a park and leave. They planted this one with wishes, literally.
Before ceremonially planting the tree, people in attendance wrote their wishes on pieces of paper, which were then mixed in with the soil used to fill in around the base of the tree.
In doing so, the people who made and planted their wishes with the tree will, “be able to look at the tree as a physical representation to our strength,” Imhoff said during the ceremony.
Arizona was the 26th state in which the couple planted a tree, and they hope to be finished and back in Hawaii by early November in time for Arbor Day, where they will ceremonially plant their last tree. The couple then plans to take all of the film footage they have collected during their travels and make an educational documentary.
“I feel like we have enough gloom and doom environmental disaster films out there,” Tekula said about the documentary. “We don’t really want to scare people. We know what is going on. We want to point out that there are very simple things you can do to make changes in a very short period of time.”
To follow the couple’s progress, visit www.plantawish.org.