Why Plant an Orchard?
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The Athenian School is a visionary organization with a well-defined set of values. For example the faculty and staff have been teaching, modeling and practicing values such as environmental stewardship and community service for a long time.
The school helps the students achieve a delicate balance of self-improvement and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. For example The Athenian students on a regular basis volunteer at The Food Bank, Monument Crisis Center and help us harvest backyard fruit.
The list of environmental project at The Athenian is long and impressive. The students are involved with the maintenance of the park next door, to cleaning the shorelines.
On campus the students have implemented an impressive array of projects from building a bioswale to divert the water runoff, to building a permaculture garden and installing a composter large enough to handle the green waste of the community. For a list of other significant projects see this post.
Hunger Relief Approaches
Hunger in America is a persistent problem that seems to get worst year after year. In fact the level of food insecurity (a governmental euphemism for hunger) is at highest levels since records have been kept by USDA.
The antipoverty approach to food insecurity assumes that United States has plenty of food and food insecurity is the due to lack of income. The social-justice approach to hunger, advocates that the as a society we will always have those who can not take care of themselves and that able citizens have the obligation to take care of those who need help.
It is hard to argue with either approach. At The Urban Farmers, we believe the ideal solutions will also include environmental sustainability and high quality food.
Sustainability and Local Food
One way to address the issues of sustainability and food quality is to grow more food locally. This is why we advocate everyone should grow more food at home. For example in the past three years we have helped families in Contra Costa county plant 720 fruit trees.
Fruit trees provide a highly leveraged solution, where a small investment can feed the hungry some of the highest quality food available anywhere. This simple post quantifies the impact of a fruit tree on food availability.
Planting of an orchard at The Athenian is at the intersection of these values. While the environmental value of planting trees is well documented, going the extra mile of growing food for donation, in such a scale, is an inspiring new development.
The students (with some help from us) will have a fully integrated solution where they learn how to grow a tree, produce food, harvest the food and deliver it to a hunger relief agency, not once, but for the next 50 years.