Saturday, December 6, 2008

Benefit Tour

Thank you to everyone who supported the recent series of Common VIision’s Benefit Concerts by volunteering, attending, and spreading the word! It was a fun and busy week with four concerts in four cities across Northern California. The events were attended by over 1000 people. The music ranged from world electronic to Country mystic jam rock! Artists included, Youssoupha Sidibe, Cheb I Sabbah, Lynx and Janover, Jah Levi, Freedom, Diane Patterson, Arjun and Guardians, The Human Revolution and Shakina. The events raised more than $14,000!

Thank you to Nutiva for your sponsorship of the Green Fest after party event and thank you for your continued support!

Also thank you to Zak Human for sharing his artistic genius in support of the project.
The fliers were beautiful!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Planting a Food Forest

Common Vision is continuing to support Amma's GreenFriends in their reforestation efforts at the Bay Area's MA Center. This summer Common Vision helped to establish a huge water harvesting feature to help sustain the trees through the summer. (read about this water harvesting) During the Thanksgiving week over 200 adults and children helped to plant 700 native trees and shrubs. Each of the species was chosen for its edible berries or is nutrient building capacity. The planting are the backbone of what will likely be the largest permaculture food forest in Northern California.

The dense planting of ground-cover, nitrogen-fixing shrubs and trees, berry producing bushes, and nut- and fruit-producing trees is an attempt to mimic Nature's natural processes - except in fast forward. It would take Nature some hundred years to transition from grass land to forest. With a little observation of Nature's principles and processes, we expect to establish the foundations of a resilient forest eco-system within the decade. In addition to Native trees and shrubs, we will also be including some non-native human favorites like apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, and jujubes (Chinese dates).

If you would like to get involved in this project go to

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catching the Rain, Growing a Forest

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Common Vision, recently orchestrated a momentous workshop at the MA Center in Castro Valley with international environmental organization GreenFriends. Geoff Lawton, considered by many to be the world’s best Permaculture Designer and Teacher, flew from Australia to teach this 3-day course titled “Permaculture and Reforestation: Harvesting Rainwater, Growing Food Forests, and Planting Ecosystems.” Over fifty course participants, including MA Center Residents and environmentalist from across California and Oregon, learned from Geoff how to harvest thousands of gallons of water in the landscape, design a resilient ecosystem, generate soil fertility, and produce food and timber in abundance.

The MA Center has almost 400 acres under its stewardship. Over 150 of these acres are treeless with a clay soil that has been compacted from at least a half century of intensive and insensitive cattle grazing practices. The compacted clay coupled with the lack of trees makes the ground very susceptible to slumps and slides in the rainy season. Yet, by the end of the summer the hillsides are crusted over with a think shell of dry, hardened clay. Deer, pigs, gophers, and voles graze and burrow for any food sources remaining at the end of the harsh, dry summer.

During the 3-day workshop, Geoff made clear that in order to grow trees on these hillsides we need to “fast-track” an ecological regeneration. While nature may take hundreds or thousands of year’s to recovery in this area, human beings can support the successive unfolding ecological processes and see recovery in less than a decade. First step, says Geoff, is water design. Without water there is no life. Before the cutting of trees and soil compaction by the cattle, this land was a living sponge that soaked rainfall into the ground. Currently the majority of rainfall tends runs fast along the surface into the valley and out to sea.

To help soak water into the landscape, Geoff led the group on an exercise to site, survey, and dig a massive ditch on contour (level no slope up or down) to catch rainwater running down the slopes, slow it down, spread it out, and soak it into the hillside. With the help of Rusty Davis and his excavator, the course dug over 500ft of this on-contour trench, known in permaculture as a swale. With each rain, even if it be moderate, the swale will sink over 10,000 gallons of water into the soil. This water slowly travels under the soil, and remains available throughout the summer for trees to drink and grow.

The MA Center is becoming a model of sustainable design for ecological regeneration and reforesting Bay Area hillsides. We are learning that through knowledge of how ecosystems evolve and a willingness to support nature’s processes, human beings can truly be a positive force in the environment. Common Vision looks forward to supporting the GreenFriends planting trees with diverse people from across the Bay Area and to inspire the larger community into compassionate action for Mother Nature.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Green-LA features Common Vision

Green LA is a non profit dedicated to unifying the environmental movement in Los Angeles. They strive to illuminate the vast spread of environmental organizations and projects at work in the city while promoting cooperation and broader grassroots participation. Green LA featured Common Vision in their five-minute trailer that is launching their project.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Permaculture/Reforestation at MA Center

The MA Center is the US headquarters for international humanitarian and spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi also known as Amma. The Permaculture and Reforestation course with Geoff Lawton this August will be designing this property and the laying the groundwork for a broad-acre reforestation project. The below information will introduce you to the design project in words, pictures, and interactive 3-D maps.

1. Download: Client Brief for the MA Center

2. View: Photos, the Topographical Map, and Google Earth Images of the MA Center with descriptions. In the Flickr slideshow interface, click the "i in circle" to reveal the information about each image. > Click here

3. If you are really ready to get to know the site, download these google earth places.
( Don't have Google Earth? Well, it's time. > Click here )
If you open these files with Google Earth than you can fly around them and get to know the lay of the land. This is a super powerful tool for Permaculture Design.

Download: All MACenter places in a .zip file
Download them one at a time:
Property Boundaries
Topo Map
Design Area 1
Design Area 2

Cow's Pasture

Reforestation with the National Forest Service

As May gave way to June, most of Northern California was experiencing summer. Meanwhile Common Vision and members of the National Forest Service traveled together up to nearly 8000 ft where the last snows were just melting and where just a few short years ago fire torched the forest.

16 Volunteers from San Francisco, Grass Valley, Sacramento, Mendocino, and LA came together to replant 4 acres of the burn site and reconnect with our ability to heal ourselves and the earth. Our team planted over 1,000 red fir, white fir, and sugar pine trees to jumpstart the forest’s recovery from a 2006 wildfire.

The planting became even more of an adventure when the planters were joined by unexpected rain-clouds. Not to be deterred from reaching the day’s goal, planters donned trash-bags as ponchos and planted on!

The experience was so positive for both the Common visionaries and the Forest Service that Vicki Stoll, partnership coordinator for the Forest Service, urged the Common Vision staff to work towards inviting groups of urban youth to a planting project in 2009! We look forward to continuing stewardship of public lands and to help expand this collaboration to more organizations and tree planting enthusiasts!

Thank you to the National Forest Service and to all the reforestation participants for caring for our national treasure and for creating such a memorable experience! Special Thanks to Viki and Paul who were diligent in making this project happen. Your dedication to the forest is inspiring. Thank You!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Common Vision invites Geoff Lawton

On August 8-10th, world renowned Permaculture designer Geoff Lawton, will be joining Common Vision to teach a Permaculture and Reforestation course. Geoff is director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, a master of harvesting rainwater in the landscape, and a frequent co-teacher with Bill Mollison. He has been invited by governments, NGOs, businesses, and communities in 27 different countries to teach, restore damaged ecosystems, and direct sustainable design projects. In case you haven't heard of Geoff's work, we would like to share the power and impact that his water-harvesting knowledge has had. Check out "Greening the Desert" below, it will boggle your mind...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fruit Tree Tour Wins Emmy Award !!!

Good thing I was at a party when I found out the Fruit Tree Tour
episode of the show Natural Heroes, had won an emmy, because it was time to celebrate! The award-winning show was based on our DVD Planting the Vision. The special episode aired on PBS across the nation. This award is a huge tribute to programs like Natural Heroes and the featured groups that are working for positive change. We hope many more people will see the show and be inspired to plant a tree in their community!

Watch a 6-minute trailer for the DVD "Planting the Vision" below.
> Order the DVD today

> Watch the Natural Heroes Fruit Tree Tour Promo on the Natural Heroes site

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CV Crew Supports GreenFriends

In Castro Valley, just southeast of Oakland, an international humanitarian and spiritual leader Amritananda Mayi has a center on several hundred acres of grassy hillsides. As part of her Green Friends initiative (which plants 100,000 saplings along the coast India each year) she has begun a campaign to plant trees in the United States starting with the center’s grounds. Just after Fruit Tree Tour ended, 5 Common Vision crew members brought the fruit tree grafting skill that they developed on tour to propagate 108 apple and pear trees to support the project. The grafted trees will be used as part of a fund raiser to support the reforestation effort in the Castro Valley hills.

Reforestation Weekend Retreat

After returning from our fifth annual tour planting 1000 fruit trees in urban schools across California, we asked ourselves, “How else can we be in service to the planet?” Plant more trees, we concluded! Join Common Vision to bring this tree planting energy from the cities out into the National Forest to plant 1,500 trees on five acres of fire devastated land. The weekend will be a festive celebration of life, spring, and stewardship of our beloved planet. Forest base camp is in Alder Springs, less than 3 hours from the Bay Area, Ukiah, and Grass Valley, located southwest of Chico. Weekend Includes: Organic vegetarian meals, Forest camping, Campfire singing, Yoga classes, and Tree planting! Sign up.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Permaculture Hillside Transformation

In the eastern hills of Oakland, Common Vision joined forces with three classes at Merritt to transform a steep hillside into a permaculture food forest with 108 fruit trees! Before trees were planted a team of pickaxers and shovelers built swales, long on-contour ditches, designed to harvest 1000’s of gallons of rainwater and store it deep in the hillside. Over 75 Common Vision crew and Merritt College students worked all day, accompanied by the drums, to plant the widest spread of tree varieties in Fruit Tree Tour history. Jujubes, almonds, chestnuts, pluots, figs, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and persimmons will soon watch the sunset over Oakland. Video created by Annapurna.

1000th Tree Planted Celebration

With the most packed schedule in Fruit Tree Tour history including more schools and community collaborations then ever before, the Common Vision crew successfully planted over 1000 fruit trees on the 2008 tour. In this short video, Professor Dingledorf, (a character in this year’s performance) leads the celebration of the 1000th tree going in to the ground at Hillside Elementary in the East bay. Students from Hillside support the celebration by writing and performing an eco-beats rhyme for the occasion. Video by Annapurna.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Emmy Nomination for Common Vision !!!

Get out your cameras!

Common Vision will be on the red carpet at the Northern California Emmy Awards, May 10th 2008 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA. The Fruit Tree Tour segment on Natural Heroes, a national television series of independent films on the environment, is nominated for an Emmy in the category of children/youth-program special. The episode “Fruit Tree Tour” was based on Common Vision’s DVD, “Planting the Vision”. Order the DVD here to see what the academy is talking about!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fruit Tree Sale Varieties

To make an order contact Faith ~ 530.277.1408 ~ faith[at]

Tree Sales Location:

Thurs. April 8th @ Ukiah Natural Foods COOP, Ukiah
Fri. April 9th @ Mariposa, Willits

Sun. April 11th in Bay Area Location TBA

Wed. April 14th @ Briar Patch, Grass Valley
Thurs. April 15th @ Mother Truckers, North San Juan
Fri April 16th @ Willow Springs, North San Juan

Sat. April 17th @ Earth Day Event, Healdsberg
Sun. April 18th @ Ukiah Natural Foods COOP, Ukiah

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1000-Tree Fruit Forest in a Box

2008 is the year for variety in Fruit Tree Tour's veggie oil powered refrigerator truck! Because of local nurseries like Rolling River in Orleans, wholesale nurseries such as Dave Wilson Nurseries and Sierra Gold who support planting fruit trees in school yards and community centers, our tree stewards have worked with over 65 different varieties of fruit trees. It's a tight squeeze getting all those bare-roots to fit in their winterized box-truck home! Luckily they move out quickly as we plant on average 20 trees per school. Trees of Antiquity surprised us with heirlooms like Tydeman's Late Orange Apple while SolMan Nursery in Encinitas donated our first 6 bananas in Fruit Tree Tour history! Through a large donation of fruiting vines, chain link fences surrounding many city schools will soon be dripping with Ruby Red and Monukka Grapes and Heyward kiwis. Having such a wide variety of trees allows for each school yard to experience fruit harvests throughout the school year. A school might have Loquats in April, Earlitreat Peach in May, Dapple Dandy Pluots in August; Emerald Beaut and Elephant Heart Plums in September, Fuji, Pink Lady and Granny Smith Apples in October, Fuyu Persimmons in November, Satsuma Tangerines in December, White Sapotes in January, Cherimoyas in February.. well, you get the picture.

Biggest Planting in Tour History!

In a historic planting day, Common Vision teamed up with members of Serna Village to plant a record-breaking 105 fruit trees! Serna Village is a thriving community that serves as long-term housing for families that have struggled with homelessness. With master gardeners, Village community members, and organizations like First Five of Sacramento, the day of planting and celebration yielded an amazing nutritional resource for the over 200 kids living at the village. After a powerful day of working, learning and laughing together, fruit trees now surround the co-housing units.

In a few years this place of growth and new beginnings for the 83 families who live there, will have the beauty, health, and abundance of a wide variety of fruit trees. Leo Buc, veggie mechanic and mathematician estimates in six years, the trees will produce 2 and ½ tons of fruit, roughly equivalent to the weight of 875 gallons of vegetable oil or 1 unloaded veggie-powered soil-hauling dump truck. In this video Annapurna shows the planting, planning, and celebration that went into this momentous collaboration.

Workin at the Bus Wash

After traversing half the state, from Santa Cruz to Joshua Tree to San Diego and up to L.A., Common Vision’s veggie powered caravan needs a good scrub down. Now that our 175 feet of caravan has passed our 17, 231st mile, the Fruit Tree Tour crew is becoming experts not only at planting fruit trees and writing rhymes with kids, but also getting the murals shining on all sides of our buses and homes. Working at the carwash has never been this much fun….or this much work! The parking alone was a work of art!

Green Theatre 2008 Slide Show

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The 2008 Fruit Tree Tour “Green Theatre” performance has inspired over 8,000 students this year. The story follows two urban students on there journey to find out how the food they eat is interrelated to the health of the environment. Their adventure includes a magic book that come to life, an old grandmother who shares how the birds, animals, and cycles of nature taught her about how to grow her food, and a crew of rhyming street kids who transform trash in a littered lot into instruments and music. With colorful veggie busses as backdrops, intricate puppets, drumming, and dancing, the performance engages whole school assemblies with messages of cooperation, earth stewardship, and community action for positive local and global change.

Drum Group

Common Vision brings enough drums for all the students in the workshop to play a variety of rhythms together. In the drum group, facilitators bring to life the importance of communication, respect, and recognition of interconnectedness. Students learn about traditional and contemporary cultures that use music and rhythms to celebrate seasonal cycles, to accompany farming work, and to remember that all people and animals share the common rhythm of the heartbeat. The drumming group marks time for their classmates to pickax, plant, and transform their schoolyard. Click Here to hear from Pranav, lead facilitator of the 2008 Fruit Tree Tour Drum Group.

Nature in the City

The Fruit Tree Tour crew is dedicated to helping urban students and community members renew a relationship with the Earth. Acknowledging the challenges of connecting to Nature in city environments, the crew sometimes needs a little inspiration to remember the interconnectedness of the plants, animals, and human kind. Thanks to the 10-year-old nephew of veteran tree-planter and eco-hip-hopper Koral Delatierra, Fruit Tree Tour received two fuzzy-golden bears suits for this year’s Green Theater. The inherited costumes quickly became a favorite accessory for the earth-loving, adventurous crew of Fruit Tree Tour 2008.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

The making of a Schoolyard Orchard

What does it take to transform a schoolyard? This video created by tour veteran Annapurna takes us on the journey of planting an urban orchard at Jonas Salk Tech High from the perspective of the Fruit Tree Tour behind the scenes team--from the soil donation yard to planting site. Common Vision had the honor to work with a dynamic urban agriculture educational project, Soil Born Farms, on this planting. Catch a glimpse of how Common Vision joins forces with local organizations to meaningfully connect with students, schools, and communities.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Expression Session Video Part 1: Regroovables

When Fruit Tree Tour comes to a school, tree planting is only part of the picture. There are three workshops that make up the day of tree planting and community building, aiming to give students a whole new set of experiences about their environment, and their place in it. This movie is part 1 of a close look into Eco- Beats, a self expression workshop that teaches kids, they can use creativity to express themselves, clean up their neighborhood, and have impact on the greater environment. Thank you Fruit Tree Tour veteran and bus driver, Doug Fuller for sharing the vision of Regrooveables and to returning crew member Anna Purna, tree-planter, eco hip hopper, artist, and photographer for editing this great video piece.

Check out another video about Regroovables.

Compton Planting Celebration Video

Compton Unified School District brought Fruit Tree Tour to 4 schools in Compton this year to work with 1850 students and plant 75 trees. In this video made by return crew member and MC, Jah Sun Williams, school board member Marjorie Shipp explains why the program is important to her and to the City of Compton. George Washington Carver Elementary Principal Dr Jacqueline Sanderlin shares how Common Vision has inspired a whole new direction the landscape and integrated learning of the school. The video highlights the one of the most celebratory after-school drumming-dancing-tree planting school-yard transformations in tour history! Special Thanks to UrbanFarming.Org for sponsoring scholarships for Compton area schools for the second year in a row.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sweetest Oasis

We’ve always seen the Sugar Shack as a miracle oasis in the heart of the asphalt desert of Los Angeles, and this year their status as urban miracle makers grew even more. This intentional community of artists opened an invitation to share their home with the entire crew of 27 during a full week of tree planting events in the city. Imagine 27 people getting their morning cup of coffee in your kitchen! Then, after graciously hosting the tour for a week, they didn’t flinch at our phone call that we needed an emergency landing site after a series of small scale catastrophes at our next campsite. Our heroes hosted the caravan for two more days making it possible to fulfill another two planting events. Fruit Tree Tour in Los Angeles would not be possible without the Sugar Shack. Thank you for being the sweetest oasis. We love you Sugar!!

The Best Day Ever

It is so important to remember at every tree planting on tour, what a special and unique experience that tree is for each child. If we ever forget for a moment the kind of impact a day of Fruit Tree Tour has for its participants, we are quickly reminded by the heartwarming letters and pictures we receive from the students themselves! 4th grader Robert lets us know, he is proud to tell his mom, dad and 20 month baby brother, “I know how to plant a tree”.

Santa Cruz Celebration Event

This Thursday, March 20, Common Vision is excited to celebrate in Santa Cruz with a Fruit Tree tour benefit that is going to rock!
at the Vets Hall- 846 front street, Santa Cruz, CA
Doors open at 7:30
Music starts at 8:00
$15 donation at the door
Join us for music with Youssoupha Sidibe and members of Sila and the AfroFunk Experience, and Love Eternal. Story telling with ChoQosh Auh-Ho-Oh, and a special theatre production and slideshow with Common Vision.

20 out of 20 common vision crew members could be found dancing to music by Kora virtuouso Youssoupha Sidibe at Common Vision’s benefit in San Francisco, last fall. After that most amazing event, Common Vision asked Youssou to bring the band and his unique musical style
and help us lift our spirits and our feet to benefit Fruit Tree Tour 2008!

Directions to M.A. Center

Going east on 580 take Grove Way/Crow Canyon Road exit. Make left at end of ramp (at traffic light). Continue straight (under 580) - Grove Way turns into Crow Canyon Road. Go 5 miles and turn left into our driveway and follow posted signs from there.


Take I-80 west to 680 south. Take Crow Canyon Rd. exit in San Ramon and go right on Crow Canyon Rd. for 3 miles. Turn right onto the asphalt road.

Go north on 680 to Crow Canyon Rd. exit in San Ramon. Go left on Crow Canyon Rd. for 3 miles. Turn right onto the asphalt road and follow our posted signs from there.

The MA Center provides a 9am shuttle from the Castro Valley BART station.
You must reserve a spot. Call Thomas in advance: 510.326.5757

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Performance Tune-Up

At each school program the 27 Fruit Tree Tour educators put on a 35-minute theater performance that includes colorful puppets, drumming, dancing, earth-conscious hip-hop, and a message about community, earth stewardship, and positivity. In this video, veteran tree planter Brian Flynn shows a behind the scenes look at the crew in performance practice. Special thanks to Blair Phillips for developing the storyline, to Xylem Larla Dey for pulling together and directing the script, and to George Martinet our costume designer and on-tour director.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A New Fruit Corridor in LA

Last Week, Fruit Tree Tour joined forces with the Green Ambassadors, a group comprised of 60 Los Angeles high school students dedicated to environmental leadership, to plant 70 fruit trees in a school and neighborhood in Lawndale (in LA). On Monday the Green Ambassadors learned how to plant fruit trees by planting over 30 banana, fig, peach, nectarine, apple, citrus, guava, and avocado trees on the new Environmental Charter High School campus. Over the course of the week, the ambassadors canvassed their new neighborhood to find ways to expand the shade, fruit, and oxygen of their new orchard into the surrounding residents’ lives. On Saturday, to the beat of the drums, the students and the Common Vision tree planters saw another 40 trees into the ground.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Grafting at the Schools with Brian

I think I should start my first Common Vision blog by being completely honest: I've had my doubts about grafting at the schools. And it's not because I don't think grafting is cool. Grafting is way cool. I mean, we take a little stick from one tree, slice into another tree, insert our little stick into the slice, wrap it with tape, slap some goop on it, and BAM! if it heals properly we got ourselves a brand new yummy fruit tree. But I've still had my doubts as I've wondered whether or not a group of 4th or 5th graders would really find this little miracle as interesting as me, the over-enthusiastic somewhat quirky long-haired tree-planting stranger.

Well, we've including grafting in the tree planting groups at two schools so far on FTT '08: Vista del Valle Elementary in Claremont and Birney Elementary in San Diego. At both schools I had the opportunity to facilitate three grafting workshops during which we would plant a rootstock tree and then graft the scion of a desired variety onto the rootstock. And I gotta admit I was a bit surprised when the students were really into it! I told them that the green layer inside the bark contains the new cell factory (cambium) and has the tubes (xylem and phloem) that work like the veins in our bodies, moving around all the stuff the tree needs to live. And our goal is to get the thin green layer of the rootstock to link up with the thin green layer of the yummy fruit branch. Even though we don't give the students knifes to slice the scion, they were intent on watching me closely making sure I was doing a good job preparing the graft. Since the students still have a tree planting experience when we plant the rootstock, the grafting is like a fun magic trick that we add on.

So, there's a video at the top of this blog if you haven't noticed it yet. It was taken by crew member Annapurna this past week at Birney Elementary in San Diego. I think it gives a good snapshot of a grafting group, in case any of you out there were wanting a small taste of what a day of Fruit Tree Tour might look like. I'm hoping to get more video uploaded soon with more tree planting, scenes from our green theater performance, drum workshops, creative expression session footage, and, hopefully, some behind the scenes footage of "Life on Tour." So make sure you keep checking back here, ok?

Tomorrow we begin the LA chapter of Fruit Tree Tour '08!

Lots of love from the road,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some Upcoming Community Collaborations

Collaboration with local organizations is a hallmark of the Fruit Tree Tour project. This year’s tour is rich and abundant with opportunities where Common Vision will support local non-profits in their mission and spreads the message of Fruit Tree Tour meaningfully into the communities whom the organizations serve. Throughout the tour we will be sharing these stories. Here is a glimpse at two highlights coming up in Southern California:

Edendale Farm: On March 8th, Fruit Tree Tour will be planting up to 80 fruit trees at Edendale Farm and the surrounding Silver Lake (LA) neighborhood. Edendale Farm is an urban homesteading developing a replicable urban center that raises healthy wholesome food for the local community, teaches sustainable food cultivation skills, reduces waste and fosters community economics and relationships. This planting is open for the public to plant trees to the rhythm of the drums with Common Vision and Edendale Farms.

Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, a non-profit organization established in 1953 that provides services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families in the County of Santa Barbara, California. On March 10th, Common Vision will working with the community of the Alpha Center and the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network to transform the landscape.
“Common Vision’s visit as a catalyzing moment of drawing the local community together. The clients at the Alpha Center have a great joy to share with the world and the Common Vision program is a wonderful opportunity for them to share with their local community while entering into a collaboration with the local permaculture network to create a sustainable food producing living environment.”
-Marisa Bourke, Alpha Center Outreach Coordinator

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Meet the New Bus...

Common Vision's Newest Kitchen Bus received hundreds of hours of painting love this January before it joined the Fruit Tree Tour fleet. The bus is adorned with scenes of indigenous cultures farming their staple crops and urban communities transforming their cityscapes to food forests in celebration. The following video was produced by Jah Sun, a returning crew member whose positivity is a driving force for the project.

Although Leo's interview may suggest something to the contrary, the artists involved in the painting project were Anna Purna, Jah Sun, April, Lilly, Squirrel, "E", Lindy, Katrina, and ChoQosh. While Leo did not paint the bus, he did lead the project of outfitting the interior in sustainable materials, installing the 1000 Watt solar system, and converting the engine to run on Waste Vegetable oil.

Rolling to our First San Diego School

At this moment the 3 buses are rolling to the first San Diego school of the year. Having so far planted 75 trees in Joshua Tree, Claremont, and Orange County, the crew is ready to transform another schoolyard. Due to the generosity of our southern California nursery supporters, today's school will receive Banana, Sapote, Loquat, Lemon, Tangerine, Cherimoya, Guava, Nectarine, and Pear trees. The Cherimoya and citrus trees are riding in "Bu," the office bus, to school.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Creating a fruit salad on one tree...

In the course of an afternoon, the Fruit Tree Tour crew learned how to graft loads of varieties onto one tree from Common Vision's newest super friend Joe Sabol. This video is a load of fun, don't miss it!

This video was created by Brian Flynn, a 3rd year returning volunteer and a crucial part of the project.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Orientation in Joshua Tree

The Common Vision crew braved the high desert of Joshua Tree to train in the art of fruit tree planting, green theater, and inspiring the youth of California to care for the Earth. As part of a work trade with the Joshua Tree Retreat Center the crew planted 65 fig, olive, nectarine, pistachio, and pomegranate trees to the beat of ancient planting rhythms.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lots of miles and weird fixes!

In the last three days the caravan has driven about 580 miles and burnt about 240 gallons of vegetable oil. There's plenty to do for the small group of mechanics, fixers, and builders while we're up here in Joshua Tree. Over the next few days we'll be installing solar systems, fixing dump trucks, maintaining air brakes and any number of unpleasant/necessary things. The best fix of the last few days was when The Lioness' brake lights stopped working. The archaic air solenoid that activated the lights had failed. Inspired by electric guitar, unavailable parts, and a desire to safely be on the road, Stephen and I quickly came up with a makeshift repair. We drilled out the pedal and installed a push-button switch right in the center! Check out the video:

C'etait bien,

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New bus leaves the shop

After days of desperate attempts to leave, the new bus and I finally made it out of the shop alive/running. The last days of the shop were characterized by blood, engine coolant, rain, and an impending sense of doom. The final push is always hard. The last of the shop crew stayed back an extra day to finish cleaning while the new bus and I rodevouzed with the crew in Santa Cruz. Here high winds and pontential tidal waves have forced them from their comfortable campsite on the beach to the cold and bitter downtown area. They are holding up though, with a deep respect for natures destructive force. Barring any unforeseen applications of this force the bus will be comleted over the next few days, but for now I ask myself "how long oh lord, how long?"

In solidarity with whatever YOU stand for,


Friday, January 25, 2008

check your rigging

When the stove for the new bus arrived it was clear the installation was going to require some creativity. The stove that would feed the crew, was way too big to fit through the bus door. The pre tour crew would not be intimated by the 600 lb stove, and quickly devised a plan to bring the stove through the roof of the bus. Special thanks to Common Vision Hero- Brock Archer whose skills as a fire fighter ensured a safe stove raising!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Modern Day Johnny Appleseeds?

For years teachers, students, and the press have hailed the Fruit Tree Tour crew as “modern day Johnny Appleseed’s” We decided to take a closer look at ways that Common Vision is similar and perhaps a little different than old John Chapman. Here’s what we found:

1. Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced the apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Common Vision are pioneer earth-lovers who are introducing fresh fruit to salad bars in the public schools of LA, Oakland, and Santa Barbara.

2. In 1792, 18-year-old Chapman went west. In 1998, 18 year-old Michael Flynn our director of education came west.

3. In the early 1800’s Appleseed carried a load of seeds by canoe and pack horse into Ohio. In the early 2000’s Common Vision carried several loads of bareroot fruit trees, rootstock, and planting volunteers into the cities of California.

4. The popular image of Johnny Appleseed had him spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor. He returned every year or two to tend the nursery. Common Vision has started hundreds of baby apple, pear, and fig trees with the help of the students and left them in the care of ‘Roots to Fruits’ nurseries at the public schools.

5. Appleseed's managers were asked to sell trees on credit, if at all possible, but he would accept corn meal, cash, or used clothing in barter. Common Vision only accepts payment in corn meal or used clothing in extraneous circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

6. Appleseed remained an itinerant his entire life. Common Vision would like to develop a land-based education center.

7. Appleseed obtained the apple seed for free; cider mills wanted more apple trees planted since it would eventually bring them more business. Common Vision receives scion (the wood needed for propagating fruit tree varieties) for free from the California Rare Fruit Growers. The cider mills in particular and alcohol industry in general have yet to show any interest in supporting the Fruit Tree Tour.

8. All sources seem to agree that Johnny Appleseed was slim, and some accounts have described him as "small and wiry." Common Vision’s vegetable-oil powered caravan has never been called “small” or “wiry,” but the crew of volunteers has been described as inspiring, engaging, and empowering.

10. Appleseed was well known throughout the region by his eccentricity, and the strange garb he usually wore. This is also true of Common Vision.

11. Johnny Appleseed dressed in the worst of the used clothing he received, giving away the better clothing he received in barter. He wore no shoes, even in the snowy winter. Common Vision is required to wear shoes in the public schools under California State Law.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Where do fruit trees come from?

For the last 20+ years members of the California Rare Fruit Growers take great care to keep the DNA of many fruit trees alive and growing through their annual Scion Exchanges. Scions are pieces of trees cut to begrafted onto a rootstock, creating a new tree and passing on the DNA.
The Heritage Orchard in Santa Clara contains over 350 varieties of fruit trees used for scion wood. Michael, Blair, Koral and I all attended our first scion cutting party to learn all we could from the devoted fruit tree lovers.

How it works: (what's grafting?) Little sticks of trees are cut in order to be grafted onto rootstock or a compatible older tree and produce the desirable fruit. Common Vision’s Roots to Fruits program offers the students a hands- on opportunity to learn by participating in the propagation of and care for newly grafted fruit trees (Roots2Fruits).

At the first of a dozen CRFG scion exchanges throughout the state, I collected heirloom varieties that fruit during the school year for propagation on FTT 08, including Tydemans Late Orange & Ashmead’s Kernal apples. Common Vision is honored to help preserve DNA and pass on delicious fruit to students and communities across the state.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 gives 5% to Fruit Tree Tour

Common Vision has been so blessed to have the support of a wide range of people, organizations, and companies that work in different ways to support the health, vitality, and wellness of the communities they serve. The superfood distribution company, Organic Living Food, has sponsored school scholarships two years in a row, and the companies owner Eric Botner is often seen sporting his hemp Common Vision Fruit Tree Tour hoodie, supporting the vision and project.
Organic Living Foods has just launched a program where 5% of every order placed with them that uses the "PlantTrees5%" code on their website will go to supporting the Fruit Tree Tour Project. Whether you are looking for cacao products, nut butters, goji berries, or green foods, Organic Living Food has some of the best prices available. Use the "PlantTrees5% special offer coupon" today, and support both your health and the health of school children across California. > Make your order

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Friends for Green Theatre!

Something new is being created in the Common Vision shop space this year. Puppets! Fruit Tree Tour's Green Theatre will never be the same! The puppet characters will be seen by over 15,000 students at Fruit Tree Tour participating schools as part of Green Theatre, a performance that uses art, music, dance, and storytelling to teach students lessons about the earth. Guiding the puppet creation is the talented Rosamond, the in house puppeteer who has over 20 years of experience crafting art that tells a story. Because our luck is as good as it gets, George Martinat, the Green Theatre intern from University of North Carolina, Asheville, arrived the night before the puppet workshop began and jumped full force into his area of specialty! Rosamond, George and six inspired volunteers participated in the weekend workshop. More pictures to come as the projects progress!Thank you Rosamond for sharing your art and skills with Fruit Tree Tour!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's been a while...

I haven't written a blog since Dec. 29th. Well, contrary to popular opinion, we have been working. Many things have progressed, and thankfully very few have regressed. Steven built and installed a custom solar panel array, the Veggie Oil conversion is half done, and more things have been custom modified than I've had hot meals this month (excluding burritos). Yesterday we drove down to Fremont to pick up plyboo, bamboo building material we use for skinning and finish work for the furniture. They donated the bulk of the material we needed (thanks be). Anyways, I'll try to stay more up on the blog to keep you folks informed.