Foundation Launches Orchard Classrooms for Big Island Students

September 18, 2018, 9:53 AM HST (Updated September 18, 2018, 9:53 AM)
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The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) has launched Fruit Tree 101, a program to provide students, families, and communities with fruit trees to improve nutrition and environmental conditions.

“We had a great event at Kealakehe Intermediate School, planting 40 beautiful fruit trees with the students, teachers, parents and community volunteers,” said FTPF Programs Manager Lizzy Rainey about the Sept. 17, 2018, event at Kealakehe Intermediate School, where 40 trees were planted.

The award-winning international nonprofit, which operates a local branch on the Big Island, has just launched an ongoing effort to provide island schools, families and communities with the bounty of tropical fruit trees through a series of orchard plantings at schools in Kona, Kohala and Puna.

The day began with a Hawaiian blessing of the ‘āina to welcome the new fruit trees and their many gifts to the school, after which students, partners, FTPF staff and volunteers headed into their new orchard to plant a wide variety of trees. The group planted 16 citrus trees (navel orange, tangerine, mandarin, kumquat, tangelo, Valencia orange and Tahitian lime), two figs, two loquats, three mangos, two starfruits, one Brazilian plum, five jaboticabas, two mountain apples, one soursop, three avocados and three breadfruits.

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The first of many plantings, participating schools will use the trees for outdoor learning opportunities to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and provide fresh, healthy produce for school lunches in the process.

Forty-four different varieties of fruit trees will be planted across all the schools—citrus, abiu, acerola, avocado, breadfruit, fig, loquat, mango, starfruit, Brazilian plum, jaboticaba, mountain apple, soursop, Surinam cherry, jackfruit, lychee, rollinia, cacao, guava, sapote, eggfruit and rambutan—giving the students a veritable fruit salad at their fingertips.

Lessons on the importance of trees for the environment and workshops on tree care will be provided at each location, with local permaculture organizations such as HIP Agriculture (Kohala) and Malama Aina Permaculture (Puna) partnering to provide their expertise.

The current set of projects are made possible through generous support from the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation and Herb Joseph of Lower Puna, and includes these additional schools:

  • Kahakai Elementary School (Kona): Sept 18 / 21 trees
  • Kona Pacific Public Charter School: Sept 18  / 10 trees
  • Mountain View Elementary School (Mountain View): Sept 20 / 25 trees
  • Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science PCS (Pāhoa): Sept 21 / 30 trees
  • Kohala High School (Hawi): Sept 25 / 50 trees

“Schools and community groups are realizing the importance of creating access to healthy fresh foods and have really jumped into the food sovereignty movement,” said FTPF’s TreeEO Cem Akin. “We are honored to help kick-start these efforts with families on the Big Island for many years to come.”

Kealakehe Intermediate School Agriculture Teacher Dr. Zohreh Furtado originally applied for an orchard grant from the FTPF several years ago and today saw her dream of creating an outdoor edible classroom full of fruit trees come to life.

“If you want to plan for one year, plant kalo,” Dr. Furtado said. “If you want to plan for 10 years, plant koa. But if you want to plan for 100 years, teach the children. By bringing the children and the fruit tree planting together, we continue to plan for generations to come. This fruit tree planting serves multiple purposes, it’s a reversal of climate change, plus giving you life and oxygen, plus giving you food. It’s a multi-pronged project that takes care of hunger and takes care of the earth.”

We are thrilled to kick-off our islandwide Fruit Tree 101 projects in such a special way!

Future plantings will focus on both schools and community groups. Interested organizations are encouraged to apply for the program online.

About the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation is an international nonprofit charity with a local presence in lower Puna, dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil and water. FTPF programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, at places such as public schools, city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations and international hunger relief sites. FTPF’s unique mission, which has been featured in major publications across the country, benefits the environment, human health and community involvement—all at once!

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