On Friday, September 29, 2017, the Rotary Club of Bishop Sunrise will have a kick-off pear tree-planting ceremony at the Lydston Orchard at Manzanar at 10:00 am. The planting supports Rotary International President Ian H.S. Riseley’s goal of planting a tree for each member by Earth Day, April 22, 2018. Trees are planted by Rotarians in the name of fellowship, friendship, and community service and are meant to grow as enduring monuments of Rotary’s ideals.
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In the early 1900s, farmers planted thousands of apple and other fruit trees in the town of Manzanar (Spanish for “apple orchard”), just as the city of Los Angeles was building an aqueduct to carry the valley’s water 200 miles south. In the mid-1920s, Los Angeles bought out Manzanar’s farmers, and in 1941, Inyo County declared the town abandoned. From 1942 to 1945, incarcerated Japanese Americans pruned, thinned, and irrigated nearly 40 acres of Manzanar’s abandoned orchards, yielding several thousand crates of fruit for the camp’s mess halls.
For more than a decade, the National Park Service has worked to rehabilitate the historic orchards, installing new irrigation systems, pruning, and grafting old stock to new roots to preserve Manzanar’s heirloom fruit varieties.
The planting will be followed by a 30 minute talk from Rotary Peace Fellow, Aimal Halim, at 11:00 a.m. in the West Theater of the Manzanar Visitor Center. Halim was born and raised, in Afghanistan, amidst the brutal civil war that engulfed the country after the exit of the Soviet Union and during the rule of the Taliban Regime. He learned English and served as a translator and cultural advisor for U.S. Armed Forces. Halim holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Reno, and completed his master’s degree in International Politics and Peace studies in England. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, Halim shares his life experiences and hopes for world peace.
“This collaborative effort with the Rotary Club of Bishop Sunrise is a way to continue to help us rehabilitate the Manzanar orchards consistent with our Orchard Management Plan and shows how Rotary is making a difference in the local area. The Manzanar orchards fruit trees are some of the last remaining in the Owens Valley and we are happy to partner with local Rotarians to continue to preserve this part of our community heritage.” said Superintendent Bernadette Johnson. She continued, “We are also honored to welcome a Rotary Peace Fellow to the site. Mr. Halim’s emphasis on peace studies and Manzanar’s role as a Site of Conscience are relevant examples that allow us to contemplate injustices experienced today and throughout history.”
Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. Learn more on our website at www.nps.gov/manz or on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.