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,