ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
by Pat Brennan
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a caravan of vegetable-oil buses, chugging into the school parking lot and filled with volunteers carrying life-sized puppets, shovels and a variety of fruit trees for planting right there in the school yard.
The 2009 Fruit Tree Tour is on the road again, bringing its message about the perils of climate change to school children around the state. It’s the sixth year of the tour, with two stops this week in Orange County.
“We’ve got the whole storyline explaining global warming,” said Michael Flynn, an organizer with the Bay Area group. “It’s a really fun way of getting kids engaged in their own communities. That’s the vision.”
The first OC stop, on Monday, was at Anneliese’s School in Laguna Beach. The program starts with a time-travel play put on by the Fruit Tree volunteers — this is where the life-sized puppets come in — in an “eco hip-hop” style. (Photos of Anneliese’s School event courtesy Anna Purna.)
“A dorky professor takes a time machine back to 2009, to tell students across California what is happening in the future and how they need to make some big changes to avoid the future he came from,” Flynn said. In the professor’s time, “there weren’t that many trees, the air wasn’t clean enough to breathe, and clean drinking-water was really hard to come by.”
After the play, it’s on to the main event: planting up to 25 fruit trees, playing drums and writing rhymes about changes they hope to see in their communities.
“The trees are planted right on school grounds — apples, pears, nectarines, figs, oranges, persimmons – in such a way that students can harvest fruit off the trees all through the school season,” Flynn said.
The next stop, on Tuesday, will be at Beatty Elementary School in Buena Park.
“The purpose is to inspire youth across California to develop a relationship with the earth, and to take care of the environment by actions in their own neighborhoods,” Flynn said