Students, nonprofits plant more than 20 fruit trees at elementary school in Westlake 'food desert'

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Saturday, July 24, 2021
Elementary school students plant fruit trees in Westlake 'food desert'
Students planted more than 20 fruit trees at 10th Street Elementary School in Westlake, as part of an effort to feed families in need and help the environment.

WESTLAKE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Fruit trees were planted at Tenth Street Elementary School on Friday morning as part of an effort to feed families, help the environment, and be extra teaching tools.

"To teach students about nature and of course, with the fruit gardens, where their food comes from," said William Otto, the school's principal.

"It's good because you can continue to plant the seeds which will grow more and more, plant more of the fruit trees," said student Isaac Henriqeuz.

"We have lots of citrus, we have avocado, we even have some more unique things like papaya, dragon fruit," said Liszt Rainey with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

The eco-initiative is a partnership with Vitafusion Gummy Vitamins, the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Seeds of Hope, bringing trees to areas that need the most.

"This is a food desert -- that means if you don't have a car and can't go half a mile to get food, you live in a food desert and it's very challenging," said Tim Alderson with Seeds of Hope.

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"It's extra important in dense urban areas to squeeze trees in wherever you can," said Rainey, "and make sure people know they're there and to care for them as well."

A couple years from now, they hope the fruits of their labor will begin to benefit generations to come.

"Fruit trees have that extra benefit of giving us fresh nutrition," said Rainey. "It's right from the tree, right from the source, it's seasonal, a connection to nature that we don't really have."

"Most of us live in places of great abundance," said Alderson, "and we don't recognize necessarily that a lot of our neighbors don't have easy access and it's not exactly affordable."

"We work with the Pico Union Project down the street, and they have a food bank they work with on a regular basis," said Otto. We can just even move it over to that."

More than 20 fruit trees were planted at the school. Another 30 were given to people who live in the community.