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Fruit Tree Tour rolls again. A "Bus full of hope!"

ESCHOOL NEWS

World´s largest veggie-oil powered caravan plants thousands of fruit trees at California inner-city schools 4th year in a row.

This week in California the world´s largest veggie-oil powered caravan, covered in forest-scape murals and carrying 1000 fruit trees and 27 volunteers, rolled out of Riverside and to begin its annual 20-city, 70-day tour to urban schools from San Diego to Sacramento.

In a one-of-a-kind day-long interactive outdoor program that includes West African agricultural drumming and eco-conscious hip-hop, Common Vision´s Fruit Tree Tour teaches inner city students how to turn barren school yards into abundant orchards, creating living classrooms with the potential to produce enough fresh fruit for the a school´s cafeteria and community.

Starting this year, all trees planted by students at Los Angeles public schools during Fruit Tree Tour will count toward the city´s ambitious new Million Trees LA initiative. On March 3 at Los Angeles City Hall in an street-closing event expected to draw thousands, Ed Begley, Jr. will introduce the Fruit Tree Tour drummers who will sound the beats to launch the new Keep LA Beautiful Campaign at a kick-off rally for the Great American Cleanup.

Each year the tour visits first-time schools to plant new fruit trees while returning to old school orchards to start new initiatives like Roots to Fruits: School Nurseries to Feed Communities, a grafting program, and Harvest Hip Hop, a roots-rhythm rap contest.

All along the way, the caravan connects and collaborates with nutrition networks and community groups working to plant trees, grow gardens and eradicate hunger, including the California Rare Fruit Growers , Community Services Unlimited , Koreatown Youth & Community Center , Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council , Los Angeles Unified School District Nutrition Network , TreePeople , Watts Garden Club and Urban Farming in 2007.

Called a "bus full of hope" by one South Central resident, the tour, now in it´s 4th year, has planted thousands of urban trees and taught of tens of thousands of inner-city California students about sustainable ecology. Fans can follow the tour online at CommonVision.org and on YouTube.

"Why can´t every day be like this?" asks Ley Yeager , principal of Vista Del Valle Elementary School in Claremont. "The music, dance and drumming are engaging and positively therapeutic. The tree-planting is a reminder of the profound power of hands-on learning. The legacy of 20 planted trees will live with us throughout our campus for many years to come. We´re already making plans to plant more trees with the hope that this seasonal produce will help enhance our school lunch program´s salad bar. And what if we end up with more fruit than we can eat here? Our students are already asking, "Who else could we help feed?

"When Fruit Tree Tour first rolled into California´s inner cities in 2004, we had visions of transforming community centers, neighborhoods and schoolyards into edible urban forests," says Michael Flynn, director of education for Common Vision. "Our day-long tree planting program today inspires all of us to realize our responsibility to selflessly look ahead at least seven generations ahead when making decisions and taking actions to improve our local environment. From the over-heating of our atmosphere to the depletion of our topsoils, today´s children will inherit unprecedented environmental challenges caused by the short-sighted progress and development of the last few hundred years. Each year, our caravan of volunteer artists, educators and tree planters travel the length of California to support local teachers and grassroots groups in their day-to-day work to leave behind a better world."

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