From Fruit Tree Tours to Orcas Island’s FEAST, Hartzell & Cheevers Bring Hope to Kids

“We’re the earth’s immune system kicking in.”

Whitney Hartzell and Owen Cheever returned to Orcas Island earlier this month from their six-week Fruit Tree Tour and have already dived into plans and programs for this summer’s Farming Education Sustainability for Teens (FEAST) program.The pair are natural teachers and leaders who are keen to reach young minds and offer hope in a sustainable future.

During February and March, Owen and Whitney traveled through California on the world’s largest recycled-vegetable oil caravan, with Common Vision’s 7th annual all-volunteer Fruit Tree Tour.

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Common Vision Fruit Tree Tour turns schoolyards into orchards

by Frederick Carle

Students at Bret Harte Elementary school in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood recently got their hands a little dirty turning sections of their schoolyard into a small scale fruit orchard.

The school was a stop on the Common Vision Fruit Tree Tour, which has been making yearly trips the length of California putting on environmental education events at elementary schools. A group of 25+ volunteers walk school groups through their own fruit tree planting and involve them in a day’s worth of environment themed activities including West African drumming, theatre and hip-hop poetry.

“We looked around and saw this obvious need, ‘one’ for localized food systems and ‘two’ to just be a spark for kids to really start to look around and see that solution focusing is possible and that it’s possible to better the communities around their schools,” said Leo Buc, a volunteer educator with the group describing the group’s mission. The Common Vision organization travels in converted buses that run on pure vegetable oil recycled from restaurants along the journey.