What child doesn’t love playing in the dirt?
At Lynwood Elementary School the common childhood fondness of getting dirty is being fostered into a lesson on growing your own food and helping out your fellow man.
Last week the Lynwood Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association partnered with California-based Common Vision to assist second- through fifth-graders in planting a fruit orchard on campus, adding to the school’s garden area.
“This is the very first fruit orchard in the Novato Unified School District, and hopefully the first of many,” said Gretchen Schubeck, Lynwood PTA president. “Schools are such a wonderful place to educate children about the importance of eating healthy food.”
Schubeck said some of the food grown in the orchard will be used in the school cafeteria and the remainder will be given to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.
Thursday the elementary students started planting 20 fruit trees — featuring apples, pineapples, lemons, loquats, plums, oranges, pomegranates and plumcots — with help from 18 Common Vision volunteers
Common Vision has partnered with 250 schools throughout the state, sending teams of volunteers to help establish orchards that produce food and act as living classrooms. After establishing the orchards, the organization returns periodically to provide upkeep and maintenance services.
On its website Common Vision says its mission is to bring healthy food choices to low-income schools and to use agriculture as a tool to combat global warming.
Michael Flynn, Common Vision’s executive co-director, said he would like to see his organization provide orchards to every school in the state.
As students in Novato helped dig holes and plant trees, they also made signs to identify each tree being planted and came up with nicknames like “Larry the Cool Lemon.”
Flynn said he believes the orchards have multiple benefits.
“Students cannot only pick healthy snacks directly off the tree, but also recreate a connection with where food comes from and have a healing relationship with agriculture,” Flynn said.