Planting Fruit Trees in Food Deserts

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The USDA Economic Research Service publishes the Food Environment Atlas to document, county by county throughout the United States, the percentage of households with limited access to grocery stores—and therefore to adequate nutrition. The interactive map aims to provide a spatial overview of communities’ abilities to access healthy food, but, so far, it doesn’t allow users to drill down to the level of neighborhoods.

In Los Angeles County, known “food deserts” include areas of South L.A. and the Northeast San Fernando Valley.… Read more >>

Western Redbud: “A tree with year-round interest!”

Photos: Bob Sussman (left), Stan Shebs (right)

Why is the Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) the best tree ever? Maybe it’s because at this time of year, redbuds are the focal point of any garden lucky enough to have them. This native Californian is a small tree (15–20’ x 15–20’) and does well in most any kind of soil, as long as it is well-drained.

In the late winter and early spring, when most everything else is still dormant and waiting to bud, the red bud has spectacular magenta flowers that are delicate and yet very resilient to cold, wet days.… Read more >>

A Native Re-Greening for TreePeople’s Cistern

Photo: Andy Lipkis

Park operations director Jim Hardie calls it the “grasscrete circle”—also known as the TreePeople cistern, a 216,000-gallon underground storage tank, where we save rainwater filtered and collected from rooftops and the Parking Grove. The stored water irrigates TreePeople’s grounds in the warm months. For the past four years, the circle has been planted with wildflowers, which look gorgeous but require regular weeding. Jim is excited about a low-maintenance alternative called purple needlegrass or Stipa pulchra or Nassala pulchra—the official state grass of California!… Read more >>