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“Fruit Tree 101” Brings an Orchard to Denver Schools (and 3 ways you can help)

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How does a community make a positive impact on school lunch nutrition? Why, they plant a fruit orchard for the school, of course?

On August 19, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation will visit The Urban Farm at Stapleton to help plant over 40 5-gallon fruit trees.

The trees will become part of an on-going education program that shows students how important trees are for creating a healthy environment and also teaches the students how to use fruits to create healthy meals and snacks.

“Fruit Tree 101” was created by FTPF in 2007 to bring orchards to schools throughout the world to improve school lunch nutrition. FTPF is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting edible, fruitful trees and plants to benefit the environment and all its inhabitants. Through the program, trees have been planted across the U.S. as well as in India, Brazil and Kenya.

FTPF’s mission is to plant and help others plant a collective total of 18 million fruit trees across the world (approximately 3 for every person alive) and encourage their growth under organic standards.

For 2011, “Fruit Tree 101” orchards will be planted in 16 schools in 8 cities nationwide. Stretch Island Fruit,  makers of Fruitabu fruit snacks, have joined the program to help bring healthy lunch options to schools along with an abundance of hands-on teaching opportunities.

Apple, cherry and plum trees will be planted by the students and community volunteers which have been generously donated by Green Spot, Inc.,  a Colorado wholesale nursery.

Students from Denver public schools will participate in a fruit dance, will learn how to identify trees, plant trees and how to create healthy, fruity snacks in this hands-on school planting workshop to kick off the program.

After the kids’ activities, a planting demo will be provided for the participants and the orchard planting will begin in earnest!

Volunteers from Slow Food Denver, Grow Local Colorado, Greater Denver Urban Homesteaders, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado have already signed up to participate in the planting!

While this event is closed to the public, there may be volunteer opportunities for this and other events through Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. The organization serves as a centralized resource for helping to connect people with outdoor stewardship opportunities in Colorado. Check out their website to register as a volunteer for this and other events.

In 2010, the “Fruit Tree 101” program planted more than 450 trees and shrubs, providing hundreds of students the opportunity to pick their own fresh fruit by hand. More than 2,200 trees have been planted to date, resulting in 388,830 pounds of oxygen and the ability to offset nearly 500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the school grounds each year.

The Urban Farm at Stapleton focuses on improving the lives of children living in high-risk, urbanized neighborhoods by helping to create a sense of positive self-regard and self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and hope.

Here are 3 ways you can get involved and help FTPF further their goal of planting 18 million fruit trees:

  • Plant a fruit tree in your yard! Find resources on planting, pruning and caring for fruit trees by visiting FTPF’s Resource page . Let FTPF know that you planted a fruit tree and have your tree count towards the goal!
  • Make a gift donation at www.ftpf.org and receive an apple tree planting kit!
  • Go to www.ftpf.org and vote for a Colorado organization to receive their very own fruit orchard as part of the “Communities Take Root” program!

Photos courtesy of FTPF and used with permission.

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