2021 Grants Challenge

Creating a Fruitful, Green, Shaded Los Angeles: TreePeople’s Fruit Tree Program

Idea by TreePeople

Through fruit tree distribution and education events, TreePeople will activate Angelenos to help create a sustainable, edible urban forest that provides not only food security and community nutrition, but also critical benefits such as cooling shade, air quality, reduced water pollution, and carbon capture. TreePeople will distribute fruit trees at a number of events in “tree poor” neighborhoods and train community members on how to plant and care for their trees.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Many Angelenos live in hot, tree-less neighborhoods with no affordable grocery stores in sight, only fast-food outlets and corner stores stocked with junk food and few healthy options. Residents of these “food deserts” rely disproportionately on food from corner stores or travel to grocery stores outside of the community, which adds cost and takes time. Many in these communities struggle to get the fresh produce they need, resulting in hunger and malnutrition. In fact, an estimated 1 in 4 Angelenos face food insecurity. The same communities that lack fresh produce also face the worst environmental challenges. Pollution is high and environmental assets are low. The consequences can be severe: separation from nature is linked with mood disorders, and physical health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma. Communities need a greener, shadier environment, along with access to fresh produce. Fruit trees do both: they green urban areas and provide healthy food for years to come.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

TreePeople’s Fruit Tree Program focuses on underserved, environmentally stressed communities with low canopy and few options for healthy food. TreePeople will distribute 5-gallon fruit trees through a series of community events. If needed, curbside delivery of fruit trees will also be performed to comply with COVID regulations. Community members register in advance to receive a fruit tree (limit one per household) and select from multiple species appropriate to the local climate and soil conditions. Typical fruit tree options include lemon, lime, kumquat, orange, nectarine, peach and plum. Prior to receiving a fruit tree, community members are provided a short workshop that covers proper planting and care practices as well as printed instructional material. All workshops and materials are provided in both English and Spanish. Fruit tree distribution events are publicized through flyers distributed at schools and community organizations as well as through social media and the TreePeople website. This program has led to excellent results in tree survival rates and extensive community benefits like yummy, nutritious fresh fruit.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,500

Indirect Impact: 10,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Trees are an essential part of a healthier, greener, resilient Los Angeles. And just as trees need continued care to thrive, so do our communities. Our fruit tree program significantly benefits the physical health and environment of high-need communities. Distributing fruit trees connects people with nature, provides nutritious food, and engages community members to play a meaningful role in advancing climate resilience. Community members who receive fruit trees will have access to fresh fruit for years to come, resulting in improved nutrition and food security. Fruit trees also offer a much-needed connection to nature for residents who lack access to green spaces. Planting and caring for fruit trees empowers residents to become environmental stewards. Fruit trees capture carbon, clean the air and provide much-needed shade, resulting in healthier, cooler, and more climate-resilient communities.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Since launching our first fruit tree distribution in 1984, TreePeople has seen the fruits of our labor – thousands of trees have matured and are yielding fruit annually in underserved neighborhoods across LA County. Past recipients have been inspired to pay-it-forward and have held local workshops, ensuring distributed fruit trees are flourishing. We found our fruit tree distribution model works well in low-income, urban communities because it is highly localized and harnesses the power of community support, rather than costly equipment or contractors. Through LA2050 we hope to: + Distribute 2,500 5-gallon fruit trees at 10 events to low-income residents. + Educate fruit tree recipients on tree care, including watering, pruning, pest and disease identification. We will consider this program successful if the participants have fun, learn about tree care, and are inspired to steward their urban forest.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Access to healthy food

Food insecurity

Tree canopy cover

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT