A diminutive 18-inch tall sapling from the horse chestnut tree that once gave Anne Frank hope as she hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam is now at its final home on the Sonoma State University campus.
The Rohnert Park campus was the first of 11 locations nationwide to receive a sapling taken from the mature, aging tree that resides behind the Annex where Anne Frank, her family and friends spent two years in hiding during WWII. The 150-year-old tree is battling a lethal fungus.
To greater accomplish its educational goals, the Anne Frank Center USA (AFC) together with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam donated the eleven saplings of the Anne Frank Tree to sites across the country. The remainder of the saplings are still in a Maryland facility awaiting processing. SSU's sapling arrived even earlier than the one destined to be planted on the White House grounds in Washington D.C.
The AFC is primarily interested in protecting the health of the tree and donating it to establishments that are equipped to tell the story of Anne Frank so that it is relevant to other incidences of injustice, intolerance and discrimination, says Yvonne Simons, ExecutiveDirector, The Anne Frank Center, USA.
The sapling will grow in a special shade house under lock and key for three years supervised by Sam Youney, Director of Landscaping, who is an expert in plant diseases and pest control. It will be protected so rain, rodents and insects cannot penetrate it. It passed initial inspection by a state pathologist last week.
"SSU has the experience and resources, including an onsite arborist who can oversee the tree's growth and health and a full complement of landscape specialists that have demonstrated experience, to ensure that this sapling grows to full maturity," Youney says.
The choice of SSU is a "perfect fit," says Senior Director for Capital Planning, Design and Construction Christopher Dinno. "We live in a world- renowned region with the climate and soil characteristics that are ideal for this historic sapling."
SSU has other chestnut trees growing on campus. The sapling will eventually mature to be 80-feet high and 75-feet wide.
In three years, the sapling will be planted at the foot of the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove near the campus lakes area which now features a ten-foot tall light tower sculpture created by SSU Professor Jann Nunn. Signage near the tree will carry the words written by Frank in her diary: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
A special ceremony celebrating the sapling's arrival will be held in the spring semester.
ABOVE, Director of Landscaping Sam Youney with newly arrived sapling grown from a cutting taken from the original horse chestut tree located outside the Anne Frank annex in Amsterdam.