Cedar Trail gets gift of trees

The Cedar Lake Bike Trail got some trees planted this year, despite a lack of funds - thanks to help from Ed Karbo and a different kind of community garden in Northeast Minneapolis.

Karbo, 83, tends a tree plot across the street from the NSP power plant near 30th Avenue Northeast and Marshall Avenue. Concerned Citizens of Marshall Terrace, a group Karbo helped start in the 1980s, turned it into a community garden for both vegetables and trees, he said.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recently harvested 80 bicolor oaks, black maple, bur oak and northern red oak from the plot and planted them along the Cedar Lake Bike Trail, said Ron Werner, a forestry foreman.

"We have been harvesting that nursery for the past 10 years," he said. "We have gotten a lot of trees out of there."

The Park Board planned to plant trees along the bike trail, but the project ran out of money. "They had been forgotten," Werner said.

Werner estimated it would have cost the Park Board $5,000 to buy the trees donated by the garden. "We're doing them in a scattered oak savannah look," he said. "In 20 years, they should provide some nice shade."

The Park Board has trimmed trees from its budget this year, Werner said. For instance, the Board decided to cut $100,000 for boulevard tree planting.

The trees harvested from the Marshall Terrace plot are too small for boulevard trees, which need to have at least a 2-inch diameter, Werner said. But the inch- to inch-and-a-half diameter trees were big enough to plant along the bike trail.

"It used to be peat," said Karbo, standing amid the trees in the garden. "When I was a kid, it used to burn. You'd see smoke coming out of the ground. We filled it and made it a community garden and tree farm. It has been functioning well for 13 years."

The brother of former All-Star Wrestling promoter Wally Karbo, Ed Karbo used to teach tailoring at the old Vocational-Technical school. Now he spends his days watering the trees.

"We started meagerly, with the National Tree Trust just to get us going," he said. "We have been going, going, going. Everyday is Arbor Day for us."