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.

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