2023 Grants Challenge

Trees for a Fruitful LA

Idea by TreePeople

TreePeople will distribute 900 fruit trees in historically-underserved communities, to improve access to fresh fruit, produce shade, promote urban nature, and support environmental health. This project will include numerous fruit tree distribution events, to provide tree planting and care instruction, build awareness of the urban forest, and leverage support for tree planting initiatives in these communities.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Green Space, Park Access, and Trees

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

San Gabriel Valley

South LA

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

California's economic crisis is creating a disproportionate impact on communities of color. As families trim costs, fresh food is often the first item cut from the budget, as they struggle to afford nonnegotiable expenses such as rent and utilities. Yet fresh food is essential to overall health. For vulnerable groups such as seniors and children, proper nutrition is critical for physical and emotional health and longevity. The same disadvantaged communities that lack sufficient fresh produce also face the worst environmental challenges. In these areas, pollution is high, environmental assets are low, and poverty and other socio-economic barriers are rampant. The consequences can be severe: Separation from nature is linked with behavioral issues, mood disorders, and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and respiratory ailments. Residents of these urban communities need a greener, shadier environment, along with access to fresh produce.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

TreePeople's Fruit Tree Distribution Program addresses the aforementioned needs by empowering residents to plant and care for fruit trees, thereby greening the urban environment, improving access to nature, and providing fresh food to low-income residents for years to come. TreePeople's Program consists of city-supported events that provide no-cost trees to low-income residents. All distributions are located in disadvantaged communities. During each event, interested participants register to receive a fruit tree. Upon registering, participants will choose what type of fruit tree they would like to receive. Varieties offered include lemon, lime, kumquat, orange, nectarine, peach, and plum, all of which thrive in Southern California's climate. Registered residents then participate in a short tree care workshop (provided in both English and Spanish) before receiving their tree. We will publicize each event through flyers distributed at schools and community organizations, and through our website. TreePeople will host Distribution events at community centers, schools, and/or parks in the partner Cities. These facilities are ideal locations because they typically include bathrooms, ample parking, and a safe space that enables set-up before the event. The day of each event, local vendors and community organizations set up tables in the area that contribute to the ambiance of each event, encouraging youth and adults to enjoy the surrounding greenspace and educational materials.

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

TreePeople's short-term objectives are to distribute 900 five-gallon fruit trees for planting to low-income residents, through fun and community-building events that can both engage and educate all who participate. TreePeople's three long-term objectives through the Program for the communities served are: * Connection to the environment. Fruit trees offer a much-needed connection to nature for residents who lack access to green spaces. Planting and caring for fruit trees empowers residents to be good environmental stewards. * Greener, healthier communities. Fruit trees clean the air and provide much-needed shade, resulting in healthier, cooler, and more climate-resilient communities. They also prevent erosion and flooding by storing rainwater in their roots. * Increased food security and access to fresh food. Low-income residents who receive fruit trees will have access to free, fresh fruit for years to come, resulting in better nutrition and improved food security.

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

Project outcomes are tracked by TreePeople internal databases, including Salesforce. Quantitative project success is measured through results that include the number of fruit trees distributed, volunteers supporting the project, and community members engaged in no-cost distribution events. Qualitatively, TreePeople also evaluates community response to each project - not only based on the direct benefits of free fruit tree plantings, but on individual engagement regarding care for the urban forest and for the local environment. TreePeople launched the Fruit Tree Distribution Program in 1984, with the belief that everyone deserves access to fresh produce, access to nature, and a healthy environment. We have distributed thousands of trees to dozens of communities across Los Angeles County over the last 40 years, and have witnessed (and cataloged) the transformative impact this program has in nourishing our neighbors and creating lifelong stewards for our urban greenscapes.

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

Direct Impact: 4,500

Indirect Impact: 9,000

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

TreePeople will partner with each of the local municipalities in which the fruit tree distributions will occur. Support from the Cities of Cudahy, El Monte, Los Angeles (Wilmington), Paramount, and South Gate is a critical component to project success. Each of these entities will ensure we have access to proposed event areas, and will work with TreePeople to identify ideal locations within the community to host these events. Cities will also help disseminate event information to local residents. In addition, TreePeople will invite community businesses and nonprofits to host tables at our fruit tree distributions. This mutually beneficial relationship enables local organizations to perform community outreach, while also drawing more residents to the event to receive trees.