Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category


Giving Fruit to Youth in our Communities

High Point HEalthy Families Celebration

These past couple of weeks have been very exciting for me as I’ve been able to expose City Fruit to two neighborhood Back to School events and provide fruit to them as well! A large part of why I do the work I do is because I care deeply about culturally appropriate, healthy food access for all people regardless of where they live, what they do, or how much money they make. As a person who grew up in a working class family and who had to trek nearly thirty minutes to a single farmers market outside of my community, I’ve made it a part of my life’s goal to increase accessibility of affordable (or in City Fruit’s case, free!) fresh food.

The first event — High Point Healthy Families Celebration —  was held at Neighborhood House in West Seattle, one of the first neighborhoods in Seattle where City Fruit still harvests and donates fruit. The community event was hustling and bustling with other awesome organizations who have a presence in West Seattle. Besides for awesome City Fruit gear giveaways, we were able to donate many crates of Italian plums to complement their free dinner!

Van Asselt Elementary School was the next Back to School festival we were able to partner with this year. We’re lucky enough to work in the same neighborhood of the school (Beacon Hill), so providing fresh fruit for them just made sense! Over 400 people attended the event and they were able to enjoy some tasty varieties of pears and plums. They also got some sweet bookmarks to start their school year off right! Our harvest coordinator Luke dropped off the bounty and was swarmed by a group of third graders who asked asked him how much money all of the fruit cost to buy in which he was able to explain City Fruit’s model. His response was shocking to the kids: “It was free! Thanks to the goodwill and generosity of folks in our community, MANY more people can enjoy fresh fruit!”

Support City Fruit today by getting involved as a volunteer harvester to get more fruit to families in need. You can also join us by taking care of the fruit trees in one of the public parks we steward to ensure pest free apples, plums, and pears!

Melanie is the Community Outreach Coordinator for City Fruit.


Save the Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center

We’re good friends with the Friends of Piper’s Orchard, big fans of the orchard there, and love Carkeek Park. Because of that I wanted to pass on some information from Timothy Cox, Treasurer of the Carkeek Park Advisory Council (CPAC), about the potential closure of the park’s Environmental Learning Center and lay-offs for its staff – the mayor has a $67 million deficit he’s dealing with for 2011. Overall there are about $10 million in cuts to Seattle Parks & Recreation.

A couple ways you can help:


Please make your voice heard at one of these two upcoming meetings.

  • CPAC will be holding its next monthly meeting on Monday, 10/25 at 7:00PM at the ELC.
  • City Council is holding a budget review meeting Tuesday, 10/26 at Seattle City Hall at 5:30PM.


If you can’t make one of the meetings, the City Council is also looking for feedback on their 2011-2012 budget priorities. There is a simple form to fill out here:


Fruit Trees in Parks

I wrote about our Urban Orchard Stewardship program in partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Seattle Parks & Recreation. We’ve been working for the past few months and have selected the parks we’re piloting this year:

Volunteers from each part are beginning to meet with Seattle Parks gardeners to start to think about a plan for the park’s fruit trees. Using those plans, City Fruit will develop & supply training to provide the necessary skills and advice. These plans will start to come together around the end of October.

We’ll share more as we progress along.

If you want to learn more or help with any of these parks, please e-mail Gail at [email protected].


Farmer Rebel Comes to Seattle

An article in the newsletter of PCC Farmland Trust gives information on getting tickets to see Joe Salatin, the farmer who has led, by example, the revolution against farming, and eating, industrially. Here in Washington State, we have a similar farming family doing the same thing near Walla Walla: Thundering Hooves…check out their website for finding and buying ethically grown and slaughtered meat.


A movie that may change your food shopping habits…

Full Circle Farm in Carnation, WA (and here is their website) posted this film on their facebook page today. Here is their comment: “Watched this again last night. If you haven’t seen this movie, or know someone that hasn’t please organize a viewing. Knowledge is the first step to change.” And, further: “If you or your school is interested in hosting a screening of Food Inc., write to us. We will make sure you get the rights you need along with your copy of the film.” Be sure to check them out!


Literacy, Preservation, Partnerships, Food Security

I have been thinking a lot lately about various projects around the world that are exemplars of cooperation, education, thoughtful & intentional partnerships, and that underscore the importance of what City Fruit is doing in our community.

The first example is the L’Occitane Foundation, the plant preservation and people investment arm of the French company L’Occitane.  The plants used in their skin care products come from resource-rich countries where, in general, women have not had access to education. They work with the people to grow and care for these plants, they provide educational opportunities, access to medical care, and involve them as equal economic and political partners.

A second example began on a small farm in South Africa very near East London, home of the ANC leadership in the days of apartheid.  One of the projects of Simone & Cyril Blumenthal, ophthalmologists, was running a small farm with the intention of  training non-white South Africans, who were displaced from their lands, in sustainable farming practices.  As each family “graduated”, they were given a cow, access to land, and the requirement to train another family and give them a cow upon completion.  At the same time, Simone was the first woman to be involved in the esoteric world of cattle embryo banks, focusing on a particular breed suited to life in the South African veld.  Simone has retired from this work (at the age of 80, she is building, with the help of two assistants, also elderly, a home that is energy self-sufficient and she is able to supply her neighbours with energy she cannot use!), but her daughter, Carol, is carrying on the family tradition of food and land preservation in a different area.  Carol has been doing hydroponic fruit and vegetable farming for many years and has now begun Skilderkrantz: eco restoration in a place called Baviaanskloof, west of East London.

These are all examples of what individuals with a good idea can do when enlisting the cooperation of others.  Tell us of other projects that you know about…we can all use good news!


Urban Gardening Zoning

A good story in the Christian Science Monitor about the work some folks are doing in Detroit (and other cities) to get more urban agriculture-friendly zoning laws.

The more interesting piece was a short, high-level background as to how Los Angeles zoning rules changed away from an urban agriculture focus to a more development focus:

Just a half century ago, Los Angeles was transforming itself from the most lucrative farm county in the nation into a major metropolis. A zoning ordinance written in 1946 as developers were cutting down the San Fernando Valley’s citrus orchards to build suburbia allowed small farms to grow vegetables to truck to market, but banned growing fruit, nuts, or flowers for sale on residential plots.

Funny how things swing back and forth. Here in Seattle there’s been a big emphasis on urban gardening from both citizens & the city (2010 is the Year of Urban Agriculture). And Seattle’s also implemented an Acting Food Policy Council, which a bunch of different cities around the country also have in place. 

Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle aren’t alone. Zoning issues are popping up in cities & states all over the U.S. A few places to keep up to date with the latest:


Obesity – fruit can help

Hopefully everyone watched Michelle Obama & the kids kicking off the Let’s Move campaign. Here’s a video below if you missed it.

And here is another one that is Mrs. Obama explaining what it’s all about.

I just really like the simplicity of it all — eat better, eat less, and be active. It’s a great message and a model for living that anyone should be able to follow.

According to the last census, 64% of adults are overweight or obese. That’s a 36% increase since 1980. And in 2008 only one state had a prevelance of obesity of less than 20% — and no it wasn’t Washington. It was Colorado.

Children are slightly better (5%-17%, depending on age group). And Mrs. Obama’s campaign is hopefully going to bring that number down. As these kids develop good habits, they’ll carry them through for the rest of their lives.

One of the more striking statistics I’ve heard is that the planet has roughly 7 billion people. Of that, 1 billion are obese. An additional 1 billion have inadequate nutrition.

Availability of healthy, affordable food is a huge issue. It’s not easy to get local, healthy, low-cost fruits and vegetables in all areas of Seattle — food deserts exist in plenty of places. That’s something we’re trying to address. Last year we distrubted over 10,000 pounds of fruit to local food banks, senior housing, and worked with organizations like Market on Wheels to ensure everyone has access to healthy fruit.

Fruit is not only an important part of an every day diet, it can also help a person lose weight. The Mayo Clinic has a great article on energy density and how it’s possible to feel fuller with fewer calories when a diet is rich in fresh vegetables and fruit. They recommend “Whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits without added sugar are better options than fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have a higher calorie content.”

So review that food pyramid and grab some fresh fruit the next time you’re looking for something sweet.


Everyone is talking about it!

Urban farming, that is!  Today on The Tavis Smiley Show, heard on KUOW, there was a feature on a particular organization called Urban Farming.  In Seattle, we have similar programs and initiatives, but it is always useful,  interesting, and validating to see what other groups are doing. Check out what they are doing, check City Fruit’s site to see links to what’s happening in Seattle, and let’s get our very own Urban Orchard on the map!


It’s happening everywhere!

For those who did not see our City Fruit Facebook page, here is a story of great interest.  It appeared in NYT on Sunday and concerns “The fledgling effort to bring vegetable beds to San Jose, Calif…… part of a national movement to make healthy food accessible to marginalized urban neighborhoods.”  This is a great effort and mirrors our efforts to create an urban orchard.


Help Keep the Master Gardeners Program Afloat

If you haven’t already heard, King County is considering cutting the budget for the King County Master Gardeners program, which helps the public practice sustainable gardening.

The main goal of Master Gardeners is to help the public practice sustainable gardening through integrated pest management, water-wise planting and similar science-based methods of meeting the horticultural challenges of home gardeners in the Pacific Northwest.

The County is cutting their extension budget by 85%. This is a catastraphic cut which will have long-term negative effects on the Master Gardeners program.

We’re asking City Fruit supporters to contact King County and request that they reinstate their budget. You don’t need to be long or eloquent — just speak from your heart. Enough voices, and the County will listen!


Call to Action for City Fruit Members & Supporters!

Puget Sound Fresh, WSU King County Extension and core elements of the County’s Ag Programs need you to send letters/emails of support to King County Council Members and the KC Executive candidates. Budget shortfalls have resulted in proposed budget cuts and the above listed programs are slated for massive reduction and/or elimination. And while we all know that this is a painful process for all and that cuts have to be made, it is still important to advocate for these programs.

“The loss of funding support for 2010 will be on top of drastic cuts that all our programs took this year and will result in further loss of programs, staff and over a decade of collaborative partnerships. The impacts will be far reaching, not only in King County, but for the region and state. Ongoing and future projects supporting the viability and sustainability of agriculture will be terminated and lost.”

This is the link to the Council’s webpage regarding the budget process:

Public Hearings, all begin at 7pm:
• Thursday, October 22 – Redmond City Council Chambers, 15670 NE 85th Street, Redmond

• Thursday, October 29 – King County Council Chambers, 516 Third Avenue, Room 1200, Seattle

To submit testimony online (300 words or less), please go to:


Urban Forest & Trees Bills Pass!

Just got an e-mail from Nick Lacata with the news that the two bills we wrote in support of were passed 8-0.

Here’s the press release they included with the mail:

Council approves new tree protection guidelines
Implementation begins in 2010, establishes an Urban Forestry Commission

SEATTLE – The City Council today unanimously passed two measures to improve the management of the city’s trees and strengthen protections to ensure the health, quality, and overall coverage of Seattle’s tree canopy.

Resolution 31138 asks the Department of Planning and Development to write a new tree protection ordinance. It outlines specific policy initiatives that the Council believes critical to successful urban forest management. Council Bill 116557 establishes a nine-member Urban Forestry Commission to advise the mayor and Council and help educate the public on urban forestry issues.

“Our urban trees are an incredibly valuable resource — and we must act if we want to keep them,” said Council President Richard Conlin. “The review by the City Auditor told us that the city must improve our system for protecting and managing trees. We need updated code that recognizes the economic, environmental, and social values that trees offer.”

Both measures are in response to a dramatic 50 percent loss of tree cover over the last forty years. The city continues to lose mature trees that provide cooling shade, improve air quality, provide wildlife habitat, sequester climate changing carbon, help with drainage issues by retaining water and improve property value.

“The Urban Forestry Commission will provide well-rounded expertise to assist the city in protecting and expanding our tree canopy while accommodating growth,” added Councilmember Nick Licata.

A report by the City Auditor in 2009 highlighted that most of the implementation work outlined in the Urban Forest Management Plan has not been completed.

Resolution 31138 requests that DPD write new regulations that consider preventing tree removal in required yards and setbacks, create a permitting system and fines for non-permitted tree removal, provide clearer direction for tree relocation and develop incentives for retention. It also asks DPD to consider Transfer Development Rights to developers, giving them more flexibility for creative solutions to Seattle’s urban canopy crisis.

The Urban Forestry Commission will include a community group representative, experts with technical backgrounds in wildlife biology, arboriculture, landscape architecture, and a representative of the development community. It will be staffed by the Office of Sustainability and Environment.


City Fruit Response: Urban Forest & Trees

[Today is the last day to provide feedback. Send City of Seattle a message.]

The City of Seattle is looking for input on two pieces of legislation that relate to the urban tree canopy.

One bill is to strengthen and put in place permanent legislation to save mature trees and tree groves and increase efforts to plant more trees to increase our tree canopy.

The other bill is to create an Urban Forestry Commission to provide expertise and oversight advice to the Mayor and City Council on urban forestry protection and sustainability issues.

City Fruit has written in support of these two bills. A copy of it is below:

“On behalf of City Fruit, I am writing in support of Resolution 31138 and to urge the creation of a strong, impartial, science-based Urban Forestry Commission.

City Fruit is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to growing, using and sharing fruit in urban environments ( ).

A city that claims to be a leader in climate protection must protect and enhance its urban forest canopy. Urban trees sequester carbon, provide shade, and promote the enjoyment of the outdoors within the city limits. In addition, fruit trees provide much-needed food. In 2008, Seattle fruit trees contributed nearly 20,000 pounds of organic fruit to food banks, meals programs, seniors and others who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy it. This fruit traveled only a few miles.

City Fruit was formed, in part, to address the missing link between the public sector and private tree owners. An Urban Forestry Commission, with representatives from Seattle’s neighborhood constituencies, urban planners and arborists, is critical to making sound, science-based decisions that also serve the public interest. And civic legislation designed to protect existing trees and promote the planting of more trees supports the needs of Seattle’s citizens and the sustainability of the planet.”