Common Vision, with help from corporate sponsors, is planting more than 5,000 fruit trees on campuses up and down the State of California
The rewards of Common Vision’s labor – apples, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines and cherimoya – become stars in a school’s nutrition program while the program’s biggest fans are the students who pitch in to plant and maintain the school orchards.
Irrigation equipment manufacturer Netafim USA supports Common Vision and has donated thousands of feet of Netafim Techline CV dripline and all the accessories necessary for a school orchard installation.
Common Vision Director Leo Buc reports that his team will plant another 400 trees on 20 campuses this year and that more than 180 elementary, middle and high schools are already participating.
The organization launched its efforts in 2004 when Los Angeles-based Tree People gave Common Vision 400 fruit trees for campus orchards. In order to qualify, each school had to first organize an Orchard Care Committee with a teacher, administrator, parent and groundskeeper.
On tree planting day, a Common Vision crew arrives with a truckload of three year-old fruit trees, irrigation equipment, tools and lots of willing hands. Student volunteers spend the afternoon digging, prepping the soil, installing the dripline and planting the young trees. The average installation is 20 trees per campus, though some sites have up to 90.
Other corporate sponsors joining Netafim include Kashi, Organic Valley and Nutiva.
"Many schools have an under-utilized dirt lot or turf area which can easily be converted to an orchard, even if it’s just seven or eight trees," says Buc.
By bringing a living orchard to the campus, schools can broaden their science curricula by incorporating learning experiences on pollination, soil micro-biology, plant life and more."
The orchards quickly become part of a school’s culture with fruit on display in the cafeteria or with food donations to charitable groups.
"The response for this program has been very enthusiastic..the kids enjoy being involved, the school gets the fruit of their efforts and the sponsors have been extremely supportive," he says.