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,

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