THE EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD PROJECT
Earlier this spring, Common Vision's Fruit Tree Tour traveled the length of California – visiting communities from San Diego to Richmond. At each stop, the tour's crew of volunteer educators worked alongside elementary, junior and high school students, teachers, and family members to transform schoolyards and vacant lots into orchards.
Common Vision has been planting and supporting school orchards across the state for a decade. After planting more than 5,200 trees, the Tour crew knows exactly which varieties do best in a school setting. Every tree is selected to be climate appropriate, disease resistant, and easy to grow, providing delicious fruit that can be picked during the school year.
Varieties planted during this year's Tour included apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, persimmons, pomegranate, figs, lemons, oranges, tangerines, guavas, and – for the first time ever – avocados.
The tour snapshots below were collected collected from Common Vision's reports from the road, provided by Director of Education Michael Flynn.
Our first tree of 2014 was planted in La Mirada Elementary’s vibrant orchard, two away miles from the Mexican border.
The orchard at Lakeside Middle School, in San Diego, is also thriving. In addition to producing tons of fresh, free fruit, the orchard is an integral part of the school’s agricultural science program where students get to literally taste the fruits of their labor. According to Common Vision Program Director Leo Buc, “The trees are so unbelievably vigorous at Lakeside that we had to cut off their nitrogen fertilizer and put them on a phosphorous-only diet until further notice."
Whatever your favorite flavor of fruit tree, there is a really good chance that the Common Vision crew has planted a few on a public school campus somewhere in Los Angeles.
We've partnered with schools in the area, like Claremont's Vista Del Valle for 10 years, planting and maintaining productive fruit tree orchards.
In the next phase, we are supporting schools to integrate the orchard into every day school life, not just through students eating fresh school-grown fruit, but also though curriculum that uses the orchard as a living classroom to teach core subjects such as science.
At Environmental Charter Middle, the crew doubled the size of the school's orchard. We added over 7 new fruit trees including loquat, avocado and several exotic subtropicals. We were especially excited to work with their new garden educator, formerly with LA-based Tree People. Nothing beats having on-the-ground knowledge to care for a school orchard year round.
Our stop at Tierra Vista Elementary in Santa Barbara this season marks our first partnership with the Captain Planet Foundation. While they installed four new raised beds in the school garden, the Common Vision crew planted 21 new fruit trees. The crew worked until after sunset to move the last mulch into place.
The Richmond School Orchard Project is a partnership between Common Vision and Nutiva. We’re making great progress toward the goal of planting an orchard at every public school in the city.
Verde Elementary School sports one of the largest and oldest school gardens of any we visit. We planted 8 new fruit trees alongside their 23 year-old garden that already had a handful of old apple, pear and plum trees in need of a heaping helping of TLC. Not only was it our first tree care visit to Verde, but we also had the opportunity to partner with Urban Tilth to install drip irrigation on half of their school orchard. We’ll be returning this summer to irrigate the other half of the orchard along with the entire garden
In case you're not familiar with our friends at Urban Tilth, they cultivate agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help the community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. They hire and train residents to work with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to help their communities develop the capacity to produce five percent of their food locally.