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.… Read more >>

Two Native Plants for Your Southern California Garden

Photo courtesy of weedingwildsuburbia.com

Now is a perfect time to grow your garden green. While other parts of the world are snow-covered and frigid, Southern California’s mild, wet winters make this season ideal for planting climate-friendly natives that provide habitat for our native fauna. Here are two beautiful California evergreen shrubs to check out and add to your weekend plans.

Twin Peaks 2 Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis; native evergreen shrub; 3’ tall by 8’ wide; full sun)

This shrub makes a great undulating groundcover.… Read more >>

Building resilient communities one tree–and many neighbors–at a time

Neighbors planting trees in Rose Avenue. Photo: Juan Villegas

Want to know how to survive the next natural disaster? Think community and good neighbors, not concrete barricades and security guards, as Eric Klinenberg recently recommended. Klinenberg says in an NPR interview,  “In light of the risk we face with climate change, I sincerely hope that we invest in the social infrastructure. Because when a real disaster strikes, it’s the social stuff that might make the difference between life and death.” At TreePeople we’ve been building resilient communities one tree at a time for more than 40 years through programs designed specifically to connect people with each other through environmental stewardship.… Read more >>

How Did Hollywood Get Its Name?

Heteromeles arbutifolia, or toyon. Photo: docentjoyce

Legend has it that early residents of SoCal were so inspired by a lovely holly-like bush that they were inspired to call their new digs Hollywood. The shrub that captured their imagination was the toyon, which is amazing to see this time of year.

In fact, the name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitely bought 500 acres from E. C. Hurd; Hurd’s wife’s friend (stay with me here), Daeida Wilcox, co-opted the name “Hollywood” from her neighbor, Ivar Weid, who lived in what was then called Holly Canyon.… Read more >>

Come Howl at the Moon with TreePeople!

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In Los Angeles, we’re lucky we can get outside day and night, all year around. Celebrate our favorable climate by joining us for our last Moonlight Hike of 2012–tonight, Friday, December 28, at 6:30 p.m. It’s a family-friendly adventure that starts at TreePeople’s headquarters and explores the nighttime views and sounds of Coldwater Canyon Park. And, no kidding, you will be invited to howl at the moon.

The 45-minute hikes are moderately paced and guided by members of TreePeople’s education staff.… Read more >>

After Christmas, What to Do with Your Tree?

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Did you opt for a real Christmas tree this year? A lot of us grapple with the choice between real and fake, weighing the proverbial environmental impact of one vs. the other. One dilemma people face with a real tree is, what do I do with it after the holidays?

Mulch it! While your tree was alive, it benefited the planet, and it can continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Chipping up your tree is a great way to create vital organic matter that is ideal to put on top of the soil–similar to a natural forest.… Read more >>

The Soil Solution

Soil is the key to life in the urban forest

Soil is as vital to environmental health as the plants that grow in it. If you watched the latest Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl, or if your forebears settled in California because they had to flee the ruined soil of the Midwest, then you know what Burns means by “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” It was a swift, government-encouraged depletion of previously fertile cropland, where nature and people had once cooperated fairly well.

Likewise, when we pave every patch of green in our cities, we undo the perfect systems that nature takes so long to create.… Read more >>

Acorns for Thanksgiving dinner?

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Back before pilgrims and celebrations of food and football, at least 12 native California tribes depended on the acorns of coast live oaks and considered them a staple.

Beyond nourishing humans, California oaks are considered a keystone species, meaning that many other animals and plants depend on them and grow in relationship to them.  There are over 160 animal species and over 40 plant species that live in relation to California oaks.

With 19 different species of oak in California, there is about one for nearly every ecosystem – from our channel islands to the desert and areas in between.… Read more >>

PUT ON YOUR TREE VISION

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Could you tell a Leptospermum laevigatum from a Ficus macrophylla? One is familiarly known as a Moreton Bay fig. Still blanking?

On Sunday, November 18, join TreePeople’s free Branching Out community tree walk in historic Palisades Park in Santa Monica to develop your “tree vision” and see your neighborhood’s urban forest through a whole new lens.

You’ll become aware of why a 25% tree canopy coverage is needed for optimal health of our city and its inhabitants—from plants to people to pollinators—and how you can help establish a functioning community forest in your neighborhood.… Read more >>