Monday, September 15, 2014

Permaculture in action at school orchard plantings


HAYWARD, CA - For the first stop on our Fall 2014 School Orchard Tour, we were excited to return for our second visit to Faith Ringgold School of Arts & Science in Hayward. We planted a small six-tree orchard here in 2006 and returned this Fall to find the Elephant Heart Plum, Santa Rosa Plum, and Comice Pear trees thriving and in need of a good pruning.  With their orchard now the heart of their garden program, the Common Vision crew added six new trees, bringing the school up to a dozen fruiting trees on campus.

Right away, we had to break out the jackhammer to break up drought-compacted topsoil that was as tough as concrete. Many thanks to Mr. Reich for letting us plug the jackhammer into his 7th grade classroom and for bringing in his own chainsaw to make room for more fruit trees by removing non-productive shrubs in advance of the planting. This kind of deep teacher engagement can make the difference between a productive orchard and a prolific one.

Every school campus is its own little ecosystem, offering great opportunities for the Common Vision Crew to apply Permaculture and other planting practices. On this visit to Faith Ringold, we planted plum and apple trees next to windows to provide students with much-needed shade during the sunny seasons. We also leveraged the thermal mass of the school building to help ripen fruit by planting citrus against the wall.

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