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.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Thank You" from The Human Revolution

Human has been a long time inspiration and a supporter to Common Vision. The Human Revolution has performed at a number of benefit shows and members from the group have joined the Fruit Tree Tour crew at our campsite after a long day of planting to share music around the campfire. The following song “Thank You” is a Common Vision favorite for obvious reasons.

The Human Revolution is a group of multi-talented musicians who perform original music featuring positive lyrics and body-shakin’ grooves. With a cast of players that reads like an atlas, this multi-cultural group plays songs in a variety of styles and genres. From roots reggae to original rock, Island to country and Latin to bluegrass, the songs transition beautifully from one to another always highlighting the common theme of togetherness and self-awareness. Check out

Monday, January 7, 2008

Schoolyard Orchard Culture

In late December I had the pleasure of meeting with master gardeners John Berchielli and Caroline, caretaker of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center near Sacramento. Here, master gardeners have been experimenting with strategies for growing fruit in small urban plots. These are the true scientists of what Common Vision refers to as Schoolyard Orchard Culture—the art of planting many trees close together to maximize number of fruit varieties and number of months that fruit is available in the limited space of the schoolyard. Schoolyard Orchard Culture uses maintenance strategies that keep the trees low to the ground for ladder-free student harvesting and easier caretaking.

The good folks at Dave Wilson Nurseries (donors to the Fruit Tree Tour) have pioneered these techniques and here at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center they have been testing them for the past decade. I came to talk to the experts on what will work best at schools across California. Here are some of the strategies that Fruit Tree Tour will be employing on this year’s tour:

Multiple Plantings (3-in-a-Hole): By planting three or four trees only feet from each other, we can, in the space of one full-sized tree, can have a peace, a nectarine, a plum, and an apricot. Or we can have three varieties of peach that ripen in May, August, and September, which means more months of students eating peaches for snacks instead of Doritos.

Espalier: Many schools have narrow patches of earth next to fence lines. In fact, for many schools this is the only pieces of dirt on the campus. Espalier is a technique that encourages lengthwise growth with little width. The effect is a fence or wall of fruit.

Cocktail Trees: Another strategy to maximize the schoolyard fruit varieties is the creation of cocktail trees. By grafting (> what is grafting) several varieties on one tree students can feast on apples from July until December on the same tree! One of the trees at Fair Oaks had over 50 varieties on one tree!

Caroline and the other caretakers of the center were excited to see their years of science going out to serve the public school children of California. They graciously invited me to cut scion wood from the trees in their orchard in order to graft cocktail trees at the each of the schools! Some May Apricots and September Pluots will certainly help to inspire the youth to choose nature’s sweetest candy, available every recess, free of charge!