Healthy Fruit Trees program helps alleviate food insecurity while supporting the local environment.
Last year, SDG&E teamed up with environmental nonprofit organization Healthy Day Partners to launch the Healthy Communities Fruit Tree program. The program provides fruit trees for school and community gardens, emphasizing low- and moderate-income communities, areas designated as food deserts and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The Healthy Communities Fruit Tree program provides many benefits to the local community, helping to address climate change by planting trees that sequester carbon. In 2021, the program successfully planted more to 100 fruit trees at a dozen school and community gardens through partnerships with the San Diego Unified School District, National School District and others.
"Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek was fortunate to receive a fruit tree donation from the Healthy Communities Fruit Tree Program," said Leslie Reynolds, executive director of Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek. "In addition to the generous donation, Healthy Communities assisted in tree selection, irrigation system, planting plan, and even joined our community on planting day to celebrate! Our community members and students had a fun time planting the trees at the EarthLab Climate Action Park and will enjoy the benefits of these high-producing trees for years to come."
Program partners also worked closely with various community gardens to plant fruit trees, like the Pala Community Garden. Run by Pala Environment Department and built for tribal members, the Pala Community Garden planted more than a dozen fruit trees and twenty indigenous shade trees, including oak trees, which have significance for tribal members.
"Pala worked with SDG&E and Healthy Day Partners to source some fruit trees for our in-progress community garden," said Kurt Broz, Wildlife Biologist, Pala Environmental Department. "The trees look great and we had a fun community day of planting. It looks like everything has survived despite some heat and then some frost, so everyone is excited to see fruit soon! We think it's a fun and important program and another step towards food sovereignty for the Tribe."
The Healthy Communities Fruit Tree Program will continue in 2022. Healthy Day Partners is currently accepting applications for the program. Schools and community garden sites that participate in the program must pledge to properly care for donated fruit trees and use them to help improve the health of their community. If approved for the program, funders will provide high-quality fruit trees and planting expertise and oversight for locating, irrigating and designing areas where fruit trees can thrive. Additional support includes microgrants investing in irrigation, mulch or other materials to ensure tree health.
Eligible community and school garden properties should meet the following criteria:
- Have an appropriate location for up to 10 fruit trees (sunny, planted 12 to 15 feet apart)
- Own or have long-term access to the land (non-public school applicants will need proof of lease or agreement)
- Have dedicated irrigation in place or the planting plan
- Willingness to help coordinate volunteers for a planting day
- Commitment to care for fruit trees and use them to educate the community about carbon (GHG) reduction and to further the goals of this program
To ensure program success, the Healthy Communities Fruit Tree program will offer approved participants:
- Mutually agreed upon fruit tree species (traditionally 5-gallon size)
- A one-time $1,500 mini-grant to offset watering costs to establish trees, purchase supplies (like gopher cages) or install irrigation
- Educational materials about proper planting techniques if trees are to be planted by volunteers
Interested applicants must complete the Healthy Communities Fruit Tree Program interest form to be considered.
The Healthy Fruit Trees program is just one of the ways that we support our local environment through nature-based solutions like planting trees. In 2020, we pledged to produce at least 10,000 trees each year as part of our company's sustainability strategy. The more than 100 fruit trees planted through this program support these community efforts, which were recently recognized by the San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council with the Best Innovative Urban Forestry award.