INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN
by Caroline An
CLAREMONT - Take some fruit trees, add in rhythmic drum beats and groups of enthusiastic students, and you have a typical Fruit Tree Tour experience.
In its third year, the Fruit Tree Tour is a program sponsored by Common Vision, a nonprofit organization that focuses on ecological awareness. The Fruit Tree Tour is one of its major programs 30 volunteers spend three months on the road in buses and plant 1,000 fruit trees with students throughout the state.
"The tour has grown every year," said Blair Phillips, founder of Common Vision. "The first year, we visited five schools and planted 50 trees in Santa Cruz County."
Nearly 10,000 students have helped plant 1,500 trees in cities across the state.
This year's tour kicked off Tuesday at Vista del Valle Elementary School, which participated in the program last year and has 20 fruit trees scattered across its campus. Volunteers will visit Sycamore Elementary School today.
In addition to 12 different fruit trees being planted including guava, peach and apricot students also planted corn and perennial fruits such as kiwi and passion fruit, which will be in season when the fruit trees are not.
Volunteers also led students in a drum workshop to teach them ancient agricultural rhythms and sing traditional agricultural songs.
The goal every year is simple getting students to appreciate the land through hands-on activities and encourage teachers to teach themes of ecological awareness through song or outdoor study.
While volunteers have these lofty goals, the day belonged to the Vista del Valle students who relished the chance to be outdoors. Some planted trees last year, like Jonathan Villa, a second grader. Jonathan and classmates planted an apple tree, but it hasn't borne fruit. He isn't too disappointed though since he and a group of second graders are in charge of a guava tree this year.
"I like being outside and with friends," he said. "Planting the tree and digging is fun, too."
Elisabeth Iniguez enjoys planting flowers with her family. As she helped pat the planting mix into the ground, she said this was the first tree she had planted. Her family prefers to plant daisies or roses.
Ley Yeager, the school's principal, is supportive of Common Vision's goals of promoting agricultural awareness.
"I believe you can gave indoor and outdoor learning," Yeager said. "This tour gives students a lot of good hands-on experience."