Artique’s First Friday finds art in fruit trees |

Artique’s First Friday finds art in fruit trees

Barto and Richardson will give presentations

Art can be found everywhere, including galleries, museums and nature.

For the May “First Friday” opening at Artique, owner Katie Stellpflug wants to focus on the power of natural art, specifically fruit trees in Summit County.

She asked Jason Barto, executive director of reLeaf Utah — a nonprofit that works to develop community-based tree and forest stewardship through effective partnerships, meaningful projects and informative outreach — and volunteer Barbara Richardson, the Utah Community Forest Council’s 2016 Citizen’s Forester Award winner, to give a presentation at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at Artique, 283 N. Main St. in Kamas.

“I have passion for both art and the environment,” Stellpflug said. “I also feel it is important to feature local community members doing important things: in this case Jason Barto and Barbara Richardson.

“Spring is a time for planting and growing, a great time to feature trees and I, too, feel that trees are the answer. Not to mention Jason is an artist himself, a nature artist with trees.”

Barto, an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist, said there is a correlation between an artist and what he does.

“Trees can be art,” Barto said during an interview with The Park Record. “I even talk about my tree-planting palette and I sometimes describe an area of work we plant on as an open canvas.”

Barto said, on a macro level, his organization creates art.

“We try to mix up the species of the trees, so you get different colors in the blossoms in the spring and leaves in the fall,” he said.

Barto said he and Richardson will share information about tree species choices for planting in the Kamas valley and around Summit County as well as how to deal with the various microclimates found in the area.

“Ultimately, we live in a desert area,” he said. “Fortunately, people who came here before us planted trees and made the area more hospitable.”

There is, however, a lot of work that needs to be done in order for the trees to thrive.

“Right off the get-go, we have a challenge because we have alkaline soil,” Barto said. “We have funky weather patterns, such as the ones we are experiencing right now. And our water is typically alkaline when we can get it. So, the number of trees I have on my palate that we can plant is fairly slim.”

Barto will also discuss soil conditioning and amending, as well as root management.

“One of the things we focus on in tree planting is to make sure the roots, the parts of the tree you can’t see, are well taken care of,” he said. “It’s like a foundation of a house. Without a strong foundation, the house will fall. That goes with the tree. If you have strong roots, the tree will survive.”

Barto and Richardson will also discuss reLEAF Utah’s Fruit Nuts program, which was instrumental in garnering Richardson the 2016 Citizen Forester Award.

“There has been a nationwide trend for community gardens and someone had the idea of making community orchards a thing,” Barto explained. “Our first attempt of a community orchard, the organization that oversaw the property dissolved. We were left with five apple trees that no one could take care of.”

He and Richardson decided to go in a new direction.

“We thought, why don’t we take care of our existing resources,” Barto said. “There are quite a few people around the county who have apple trees who may have grown tired of taking care of them.”

He and Richardson adopted those trees.

“We take care of them by removing the turf around the bottom to give them a healthier root zone,” he said. “We also condition the soil and give them a proper pruning. We also do some organic integrated pest management.”

The apples harvested from the trees are divided into four categories.

“The best apples are donated to the Christian Center of Park City food bank, and at the Community Action Food Bank in Kamas,” Barto said.

The B-list apples go to reLEAF Utah volunteers.

“Those apples usually have a blemish or two, but are still good apples,” Barto said.

The C-list apples go to local livestock.

“They are donated to horses, chickens and goats, and I think to pigs and ducks,” Barto said.

The D-list  apples are put into local compost piles.

“The program has doubled in size over the past few years and much of that has to do with Barbara’s participation and passion for the program,” he said. “Barbara is an awesome lady.”

Richardson, a local author who has been a landscape designer for more than 20 years, said the award was a surprise, and that she is looking forward to the presentation at Artique.

“The idea isn’t to honor me,” she said. “It’s to talk about trees.”

Richardson said Stellpflug reached out to her and Barto about doing the presentation.

“Katie and I are friends from her boutique because I shop there a lot,” Richardson said.“I’m also a novelist and in addition to Artique selling my books, I did a book reading there once.”

In 2013, Richardson’s book “Tributary” won the Utah Book Award, and her latest book, 2015’s “Dirt: A Love Story,” is an anthology of 36 essays about dirt.

“My interest in dirt, water and clean air runs deep,” she said with a laugh.

Richardson introduced herself to Barto three years ago after seeing a Wasatch Back Trees sign.

Wastach Back Trees is the former name of reLeaf Utah.

“It said ‘trees were the answer’ and I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I’m in paradise,’” she said. “So, I contacted Jason and started volunteering.”

Richardson became interested in landscape design after years of working with flowers.

“It started with wildflowers some 20 years ago, when I fell madly in love with them in Spokane, Washington,” she said.

Richardson then moved to Mississippi, where the wildflowers were “crazy gorgeous.”

“I started working at a nursery, and at the very end of the stay there, a woman told me she needed help with landscaping,” she said. “I went to her house. I put in a path and selected some good plants.”

Richardson’s next move was back to the Pacific Northwest.

“When I moved to Portland, Oregon, I decided I was a landscape artist and worked there for nine years in the rain, wind and sleet,” she said. “Then I moved to Kamas.”

Richardson hopes people will attend the First Friday event.

“I want them to come and learn about trees, because Jason has so much information about trees,” she said. “It’s also a night to shop for beautiful gifts at Katie’s shop.

“Tree nerd and dirt nerds tend to hang together. So, it will be fun to meet some other nerds.”

“The First Friday” opening at Artique will feature a presentation by Jason Barto, reLeaf Utah executive director, and 2016 Citizen Forester of the Year, local author Barbara Richardson, from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at Artique, 283 N. Main St. in Kamas. The event is free and open to the public. For information, visit

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