Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How schools orchards create community

By Diana Raiselis


One of my favorite things about Fruit Tree Tour is seeing how teachers and school leaders use their orchards as a tool for hands-on teaching, and for building community.  After our visit to Birney Elementary in the San Diego area, I'm still thinking about how wonderfully Ms. Mindy has done this at her school.  From the moment our bus rolled onto campus, I could see the vitality that the school garden & orchard brought to the campus: the rainbow-colorblocked storage containers that formed her outdoor classroom, brightly painted signs dotted planting beds, and the space itself was alive with students, working on the mulch pile and running between fruiting trees.  

Week One on Fruit Tree Tour, Spring 2015

By Trevien Stanger


I write to you this evening from the breezy confines of the Common Vision tour bus.  Dusk is falling here at our camp-ground on the outskirts of San Diego, with the high crags of the Laguna mountains to the east turning a desert crimson in the sunset.  Below the window, just outside, I hear the chattering din of my fellow Tour crew members– they sit beside a forking campfire, headlamps trained upon small white boards in their dirt-caked hands as they sand down the edges, readying them for an orchard-sign painting workshop tomorrow morning.  Beyond them, working beneath some towering eucalyptus trees, are two other crew members watering over thirty citrus trees and a half-dozen bags of bare-root fruit trees– peaches, persimmons, figs, apples, plums, and nectarines.  Just another evening of Fruit Tree Tour, and as I bite into a piece of citrus as the orange sun finally sets, I begin to set down some recollections for you of my first week on Tour.

But before I go much further, perhaps I ought to catch you up some on what this whole “Fruit Tree Tour” thing is in the first place.  The Tour is one of the primary activities of an educational non-profit organization called Common Vision.  Operating in California, CV is built upon a desire to address a suite of multi-pronged and interconnected problems– poor nutrition in inner-city schools; urban food-deserts (places where community members do not have access to food beyond that which is available in gas stations and convenience stores); and the lack of quality environmental programming in these underserved areas.  Common Vision believes that one way we might to address these issues is to both simple and profound: plant fruit tree orchards at public schools the length of California, and in the process, to use the opportunity to provide students with unique, immersive, environmentally-educational experiences in the process.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Common Vision at Castle Park High in San Diego

by Libby Woods, Spring 2015 Tour Crew Member

Common Vision at Castle Park High School

Last Friday Common Vision visited Castle Park High School in San Diego. Our first High School of this tour. Castle Park High is located upon a hill that over looks the city with a great view of the mountains. The school is 50 years old and has not had an Agriculture program within any current teachers memory. This install came through a dedicated and enthusiastic special needs teacher Rhonda. Like most school yards we visit, Castle Park High school grounds was extremely compacted and nearly hard as concrete. Michael and I visited the school a couple evenings before to lay a drip line and soak the grounds. This small step accelerates our morning digging process tremendously.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Biggs Miracle Orchard


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CHICO, CA - Biggs is one of our many miracle orchards. First planted in 2008, we were somewhat flabbergasted by the success of this orchard. Since our last orchard care visit in 2011, we returned this Fall to find the drip-irrigation system in disarray. But these trees were determined. They managed to root down into groundwater during the drought and are thriving. On this visit we add 8 new fruit trees to the 16 we planted on past visits. Nothing smacks a big old smile on our faces more than watching kids fill boxes and boxes of pomegranates, pears, apples and persimmons from their superabundant school orchard.

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Sacramento school orchards are thriving



SACRAMENTO, CA We are super happy to report that school orchards at CCAA Elementary and High School, Orangevale, Skycrest and Serna Village in Sacramento are all thriving. These schools represent orchards comprised of over 200 fruit trees, and our return visits this Fall were focused mostly on pruning back these super abundant trees to get them ready for next season. CCAA is another great example of total campus transformation. Where there was once just a patch of grass, there is now a food forest complete with a canopy that creates a living classroom on campus.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaming up with The Polish Ambassador



Infinite gratitude to The Polish Ambassador, Ayla Nero and Mr. Lif for a sold-out Sunday evening show that helped raise $21,000 for our school orchard program. Also, a humongo thank you to all of the fans who came out to Alta Sierra school to work with Common Vision on the first day of action on The Polish Ambassador’s Permaculture Action Tour. Many hands make light work, especially when jackhammering compacted soil, picking out giant rocks and moving concrete rubble to make room for a new orchard. Our action team and more than 50 TPA fans showed up at Alta Sierra Elementary School with shovels in hand ready to get dirty. We dug holes for fence posts and prepared the water irrigation system.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sacramento school district green lights new pilot orchard


SACRAMENTO, CA Pacific Elementary marked the first time in ten years that the Sacramento school district gave the green light to plant a new school orchard. Similar to our pilot program in Richmond, we are working closely with the district to prove that school orchards are doable, and delicious!