What: Helping Oakland residents plant and steward fruit trees for their communities.
Growing Together's mission is to connect people to nature and each other, building resilient communities through food, urban agriculture, and education. We facilitate neighbors joining together to plant community owned trees in the front and back yards of homes in the SF East Bay. We aim to plant in underserved neighborhoods that are experiencing a convergence of health, economic and environmental crises, with the understanding that urban trees provide innumerable community and environmental benefits. We provide the fruit trees and basic tree care education and help with planting and long term maintenance. The residents care for the trees and share the fruit.
- Food Justice : To build long term food security in Oakland
- Community: To meet our neighbors and share the harvest
- Education: To increase local knowledge and share skills for fruit tree cultivation
- Environment: To green and beautify our neighborhoods
It is evident that low income urban areas substantially lack the tree cover found in more affluent neighborhoods. What is less immediately evident, is the vast health and environmental implications of living in a "concrete jungle". Studies have shown that the presence of trees helps reduce stress, speed healing time, and even decrease rates of domestic violence and child abuse. Furthermore, many residents of urban areas experience a myriad of health problems associated with living in food deserts (areas with out access to healthy food) including diabetes, obesity and other chronic health conditions. Trees clean the air of pollutants, create oxygen, and absorb CO2, lower heating and cooling costs of nearby buildings, reduce water run-off, increase property values, provide essential habitat for many species and more. As these are fruit trees they will also provide a source of local fresh fruit for decades and centuries to come.
For all these benefits and more, we believe in the power of planting trees to serve the most vulnerable communities and populations that bear the brunt of environmental burdens.
(For a more complete list of tree benefits and a list of sources see our website growingtogetherproject.org)
How It Works:
1 → Any interested resident of Oakland contacts us about becoming a fruit tree steward.
Great! We would love to help you plant a fruit tree in your yard. First we work with this future fruit steward to organize their community. We help that person connect with neighbors and find other fruit tree stewards with planting sites on their street. We aim to plant trees in clusters of 20 or more per block for optimal impact and to promote community building, and grow an abundant shareable harvest. Interested?
2 → Together we organize a tree planting day for the block during which Growing Together volunteers and neighborhood members get together to plant donated trees at the selected sites (the front/back yards of the stewards) for community use.
3 → Tree stewards water and care for the trees as they grow.
Tree stewards attend an educational workshop during the planting day to learn about tree water needs, pruning, and other tree care topics prior to planting. After planting, we can also help with questions, and provide any expert care the tree needs.
4 → When fruit is ready, the neighborhood shares the harvest.
An abundant fruit tree is for sharing.
Goal: To plant 1,000 fruit trees at Oakland homes, gardens, and community centers in the next 16 months!
Our goal is to plant 1,000 fruit trees in people's yards, community centers and schools by May 2014. Accordingly, we will teach between 40-50 tree care workshops and hold 40-50 community planting days with 15-25 households participating in each. We will not hold plantings during the dry summer season and will use that time to focus on signing up more tree stewards and working on propagation. After our first planting cycle, we will evaluate the project and decide on our goal for the next year and how to proceed.
The money raised here will allow us to purchase trees in bulk, transport trees, purchase and propagate groundcovers and perennials to complement our tree plantings, provide soil amendments and staking materials, produce and print flyers and promotional materials, provide educational materials for stewards, host community planting days and cover the costs to coordinate this project.
Growing Together is unique in its approach of planting fruit trees on community members' private land for community use and in our focus on planting in neighborhoods of need. As far as we are aware, we are developing a new model, in working with private homeowners to re-green communities, one street at a time. Therefore, the success of this project will not only benefit Oakland residents, but also create a replicable model so that others can implement similar projects in their own communities.
If you like this project, please contribute as you are able and share our website and campaign with your friends. And if you live locally, please consider becoming a GT fruit tree steward as well and help us coordinate a planting on your block! Thank you so much for your support!
Who we are:
Mallika is a gardener, yogi, healthy food enthusiast and food justice activist. She asked herself how she could best serve the world and her local community, and planting fruit trees all over the city seemed like the most worthy thing she could do; from that impulse, this project was born.
Jim is a Consulting Arborist and Forester with a BS in Urban Forestry from the Pennsylvania State University. As the Director of Tree Operations for Urban Releaf, a tree planting nonprofit in Oakland, Jim serves as a technical advisor and educator for both the staff and the community. Jim is working with Growing Together to help develop educational materials, run tree care clases and provide specialist care when needed. He's also an incredible home brewer and chef (check out his offerings in the perks!).