By planting trees for a campus orchard, students at Deer Creek Elementary were also laying the seeds for an understanding in environmental consciousness, said members of Common Vision, a traveling tree-planting troupe that organized the lesson.
With holes already dug, students broke into groups and helped plant 18 young fruit trees on Friday, Nov. 18, at the northwest corner of the Deer Creek Elementary School campus, behind the baseball field.
They planted Gala apples, Osborne Prolific figs, Santa Rosa plums, Arctic Glo nectarines, Hachiya persimmons, Yellow Bell apples, pears and pomegranates.
“Their intimacy with everything allows them to come back and say ‘I actually planted this and so did my friends and I want to see this survive,'” said Faith Sabatine, a tree and materials coordinator for Common Vision. “They are much more excited when they are involved like this.”
Common Vision, based in Mendocino County, travels the state turning city school yards into urban orchards. Since 2004, the all-volunteer crew of modern-day Johnny Appleseeds has impacted more than 85,000 students and planted nearly 5,000 fruit trees at public schools and community centers throughout California, mostly areas classified as urban food deserts due to a lack of local access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
However this fall, the group head to rural areas such as Nevada County.
“We're very excited to work with the local schools and model the very best in school orchard care,” said Michael Flynn, a program director with Common Vision and a Nevada City resident.
“We have a great community here that is dedicated to organic agriculture and showcasing the best of what school orchards can do in terms of nutrition and using an orchard as an outdoor classroom.”
At Deer Creek Elementary, Bob Zucca of BP Landscapes donated equipment and helped plan the site, said Aimee Retzler, a Deer Creek Elementary parent.
Hansen Brothers brought a trencher to dig the long trench to help with irrigation alternatives. The Parent Teacher Club supported the effort financially, Retzler said.
“Planting, caring and harvesting these trees is probably the most direct tool to teach students about caring for the environment and how actions now can support future generations,” Flynn said. “The students at Deer Creek were exceptionally receptive of the program and excited to put in an orchard.”