Applications due November 26 for subsidized fruit trees

San Francisco Urban Orchards Program means super-local food, greener city

Want an instant orchard that’s 92% paid for?  Thanks to the San Francisco Urban Orchards Program, publicly-accessible sites such as schools and community gardens are eligible to receive fruit trees, delivered and planted, with most costs covered.  Sites on private property may also be eligible and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  The planting will happen in January, and applications are due November 26.

The program is being coordinated by the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE) and Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), a non-profit organization.  The program is primarily funded by San Francisco’s Carbon Fund, which is set up to support the City’s climate action program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional funding comes from grants and private donations to FUF.  The estimated cost for each tree planted in the program is $300, but tree stewards (as the tree recipients are called in this program) will be charged only $25 per tree.

The program aims to plant 200 fruit trees on Saturday, January 26.  Recipients may choose among several varieties of apple, Asian pear and plum trees known to thrive in San Francisco’s micro-climates.  The number of trees ordered for each site will vary, but the program envisions approximately 20 orchards, each containing 10 trees.

FUF’s expert staff will help identify and prepare the specific planting locations at each site, and assist with tree selection.  Assisted by teams of volunteers, they’ll deliver the bare-root trees, plant them, and provide periodic care to them until they’re established.  Tree stewards will handle regular tree care — primarily watering — and will harvest, eat, and share the fruit.  SFE will supply tree stewards with information about food pantries that can accept any excess fruit.

Like other urban trees, these fruit trees will absorb and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.  They’ll also aid storm water retention, thereby reducing the burden on our combined storm-sewer system and reducing the chance of polluted overflow into the San Francisco Bay.  And unlike most other urban trees, they’ll yield food, thereby making the city more self-sufficient.

Urban orchards tend to be much easier to care for than vegetable gardens, and can be managed communally.

Anyone interested in obtaining fruit trees in the January Urban Orchards planting should download, complete and submit this form by Wednesday, November 26: https://fuf.net/fruitform.pdf.

More information about the San Francisco Urban Orchards Program is available at http://bit.ly/SForchards.

About the San Francisco Department of the Environment

The San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE) creates visionary policies and innovative programs that promote social equity, protect human health, and lead the way toward a sustainable future.  SFE mobilizes communities and provides the resources needed to safeguard our homes, our city, and ultimately our planet.  For more information, visit http://sfenvironment.org.

About Friends of the Urban Forest

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) helps individuals and neighborhood groups to plant and care for street trees and sidewalk gardens in San Francisco.  Since 1981, FUF has planted more than 47,000 trees to reduce the city’s tree shortage.  By greening the streets of San Francisco, FUF supports the health and livability of the urban environment.

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