SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE
Last week, the kids at La Mirada Elementary School in San Ysidro got a visit from a big ol’ bus full of bare-root fruit trees and a crew that helps plant the trees at schools and teaches students, staff and community members about caring for them.
“It was so wonderful,” said Mariana Osuna, wellness coordinator for the San Ysidro School District. “They are a group of volunteers who have driven up and down the state of California planting fruit tree orchards.”
Common Vision, an organization that works to improve the health and environment of people and their communities, took their Fruit Tree Tour to the school as part of the district’s participation in the Healthy Works initiative, the local version of the national Communities Putting Prevention to Work program. The initiative came from a $16 million federally-funded grant to address the obesity epidemic by linking the county with various community, government and educational groups to improve health and wellness. As one of the districts selected, San Ysidro must improve nutrition for students, increase physical education and activity, work with the community on projects and establish or enhance school gardens.
After attending workshops about planting trees, learning about soil and what worms do, and painting signs to identify the new trees, students spent time out in the garden getting their hands dirty.
“The kids are excited,” said Principal Manuel Bojorquez. “One kid in particular, it was the first time that they even had their hands in the soil and planting a tree. For most kids, it was the first time planting.”
There are 18 trees now, including tangerine, navel orange and Pink Lady apples in the L-shaped area at the front of the school. Eventually, the plan is to plant herbs and vegetables and open it up to the community as well.