Grow a Food Forest in a Food Desert

Fruit Tree load-up, photo: Amanda Keller Konya

The term “food desert” describes an urban community that lacks access to fresh, healthy food in local shops and grocery stores. These are regions in our city where, for various reasons, neighborhood retailers can’t or don’t stock produce and healthful alternatives to processed fast food.

In Inglewood’s “100 Seeds of Change” initiative, residents have taken health matters into their own hands, growing fruits and vegetables themselves—and in temperate Los Angeles, they can turn even a small patch of earth into a food forest. TreePeople is committed to helping this effort by partnering for the third year with the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) in giving away 2,000 bare-root fruit trees to pre-registered residents of Inglewood and South Los Angeles on Saturday, January 26.

At the Fruit Tree Giveaway Festival, taking place from 10 am to 4 pm at Morningside High School in Inglewood, SJLI, with volunteer support from the UCLA Volunteer Center and the nonprofit DoGood, will host numerous free activities that include a film screening, physical fitness training sessions, healthy cooking demonstrations, home gardening tutorials, music, and a fun zone for the children. TreePeople will be conducting fruit tree planting and care workshops, ensuring the success of each fruit tree distributed.

During the day, three local schools—Inglewood and Morningside High Schools and Bennett Kew Elementary School—are providing residents and volunteers the opportunity to get their hands dirty by helping to plant fruit tree orchards on their campus grounds.

SJLI’s focus is on advancing social justice in order to empower and uplift communities so that they can achieve equity. Attaining “food justice” is central to the mission, and distributing fruit trees is one way to address this directly. And, as SJLI’s Derek Steele explains, the trees do more than provide fresh food: “Together with TreePeople, we’ve distributed 1,640 fruit trees in the last two years, and are really seeing progress as we continue to serve our community members, helping them to achieve food justice, food security, improve their health, and clean our air.”

Are you an Inglewood resident who would like a fruit tree for your home? To reserve your tree in advance, sign up online, or email dsteele@sjli-cp.org or call the SJLI office at 323.952.3466.

TreePeople has been distributing thousands of bare-root fruit trees in underserved L.A. area communities every year since 1984, producing tens of thousands of tons of fruit to feed local families.

Fruit Tree Volunteer Opportunities with TreePeople

February 2, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., South L.A.
March 9, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Pacoima

Carolyn Gray Anderson is an editor, writer, and nonprofit communications professional in Los Angeles. She volunteers regularly with Good Karma Gardens and at the Learning Garden at Venice High School, enjoying many a meal straight from the earth. She loves TreePeople almost as much as she loves trees.