RED WHITE & GREEN
Kind of hippy, but super cool: A veggie oil–powered caravan packed with tree-planting do-gooders is now touring the state of California, planting orchards at underserved public schools and performing a green theater extravaganza for the students. Started seven years ago byCommon Vision, a nonprofit that brings environmental education programs to needy urban and rural communities, the Fruit Tree Tour now has some serious muscle behind it, thanks to an Emmy Award win in 2008 and a recent sponsorship by organic foods powerhouse Organic Valley.
The 70-day, 20-city tour will visit areas with some pretty staggering rates of childhood obesity: In Fresno County, for instance, where the group will be stopping, over 35 percent of children are overweight. The problem, for many, is simply gaining access to healthy eating options. These are regions packed with cheap fast food, where there aren’t weekly farmers markets and a local Whole Foods at which to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. (Nor would it be economically feasible for most of the residents to shop at WF, even if there was one.)
Thanks to the work of the Fruit Tree Tour, though, schools will be left with orchards that can provide fresh fruit for their cafeterias and even their surrounding communities; to date, over 3,500 fruit trees have been planted, transforming more than 150 low-income schools into models of healthy eating and hope.