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We are building community, serving Oakland residents, and re-greening the city through this exciting new fruit tree program.
Mallika Nair
1,254 Facebook Friends
Oakland, California
United States
2 Team Members
This campaign is raising funds on behalf of People United For A Better Life Inoakland, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can't be specified for any particular purpose.



We have been busy! Since the time we started this campaign we have run two community planting days with 20-25 volunteers/residents participating in each to pilot our program. In these pilot plantings we ran two educational tree care workshops and have planted over 30 fruit trees and learned a lot about the logistics of running this program. We have also secured a site to start a small nursery for future tree propagation in East Oakland at Castlemont High School. We have started developing plans for future plantings including planting with several houses of a residential drug recovery program in Oakland and Berkeley, and a school teacher and her urban agriculture group in their neighborhood in Fruitvale. We now have two incredibly knowledable teachers, Justin Valone and Anders Vidstrand on board to teach our tree care workshops. And we recently received a generous $5,000 grant from the Rose Foundation!
Quotes from people who participated in our program so far:
"It really works. I met many neighbors - people I have never talked to before, though I lived on this block for 4 years." - North Oakland tree steward
"Thank you for the trees, food, fertilizer and great instruction."
- North Oakland tree steward
"Incredible class! I learned so much"
- Volunteer at the Fruitvale planting
"We noticed how people have been littering significantly less since we facilitated the sweet planting on our block." - Fruitvale resident and tree steward 
We are excited to have such an adaptable program where we can work with schools, hospitals, centers and other organizations that serve the community. We are so grateful for all your support!
Please continue to support us to do this important work! 

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.

Our Model

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!).

Find This Campaign On
raised in 2 months
30% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$36,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on May 1, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Thank You!

    Sending you infinite gratitude!

    3 claimed
  • $20USD
    SunDog CD!

    Celebrate all of life with this CD from Ecstatic Union! Mallika is singing some harmonies on the tracks! Listen here: http://ecstaticunion.bandcamp.com/album/sundog

    3 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $25USD
    Foodie Basket De-Assembled

    Choose one of our artisan food gifts. Small box of raw chocolates OR Small jar homemade vanilla extract OR a home brewed beer (21 and older) OR jar local honey OR mini raw pie (local only) OR jar of ginger turmeric kraut. Depends on availability - let us know your top 2 choices!

    6 out of 75 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $36USD
    A Tree Grows in Oakland

    We will send you a packet of organic seeds + you get the satisfaction of sponsoring a community tree!

    6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $75USD

    Growing Together Poster Art

    2 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $108USD
    Sacred Fruit

    A sacred number in Eastern traditions, you will receive a healthy local organic fruit cobbler (no refined sugar; vegan, gluten free available) (Oakland/Berkeley/SF residents only)

    2 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $123USD
    Three Trees

    We will set aside three bare root trees (available types will vary) for you to pick up from our Oakland or Berkeley location to plant in your yard with your family and friends.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $750USD
    Every Foodie's Dream Basket

    A basket of delicious handcrafted bay area food-art, including home brewed beer, artisan kraut, raw chocolate treats, seasonal fruit,and more surprises!

    0 out of 12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $1,001USD
    Visionary Portrait

    Any of the above perks or a personalized portrait with Elena Mitchel, the artist behind the GT logo, based on a photo and themes of your choice.

    0 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $2,000USD
    A Backyard Orchard

    We will help you plant a small backyard orchard (3-8 trees depending on your site), and will provide assistance with tree care for up to two years. (SF bay area residents only)

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $3,000USD
    Decadent Dinner Date

    We will serve a delicious organic four course candle lit meal, designed to highlight seasonal flavors and fruits, for two, in your home AND gift you three trees suited to your home site. (SF Bay Area only)

    0 out of 1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
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