A special year-end message to all of FTPF’s friends and supporters (December 2022)
What a fruitful year 2022 has been for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation as we celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization! And, once again, we are thrilled to wish you and your loved ones happy holidays! A whole lot of fruit tree planting has taken place in the past two decades as FTPF established itself as a leader in a growing movement to provide life-sustaining nutrition and improved environmental conditions for families and schools everywhere. As a one-of-its-kind nonprofit focused on planting fruit and nut trees and providing communities with resources to ensure their survival, FTPF’s programs have resulted in hundreds of thousands of thriving trees worldwide.
Our projects are focused on creating a world full of abundance, in which food forests fill public parks, community gardens, schools, hospitals, and backyards to ensure everyone has access to organic, sustainable, perennial nutrition right at their fingertips. A place where families enjoy picnics under the shade of thriving fruit trees, breathe the clean air they generate, watch birds and wildlife foraging amongst the canopy, and are asked only to bring an appetite for the fruits growing overhead. A world in which we come together in collective selfless action to plant trees now so that future generations can benefit from the beauty and bounty they provide.
Yet, our programs involve so much more than just the trees, including environmental curriculum for students, workshops and training for orchard caretakers, and aftercare resources to ensure tree survival—not to mention all the smiles, high fives, and tears of joy and hope that are part of so many FTPF events. We often talk about an intangible magic that is involved with planting fruit trees, and it is our pleasure to reflect on some of the magic and success from the past year in this letter, with an eye toward the magic we know is to come in the next twenty years.
Just this month, our team returned from the fourth year of a program we launched with our local NGO partners working in the Peruvian Amazon where deforested areas intersect low-income villages. As in previous years, we worked collectively in five river communities to plant and distribute 6,000 fruit trees over the course of two weeks. In one of the river communities, San Pedro de Mangua, we were greeted by thriving citrus, camu camu, and coconut trees we had planted with families in previous years. In the center of the village, an inspired inscription on a wall read: “We care for the trees today because tomorrow will be too late.” These words so powerfully capture the spirit of our program and the urgency needed to achieve true environmental change on a path towards food sovereignty.
In July, we launched the tenth year of our collaborative program in El Salvador to provide fruit trees, training, and income-generating opportunities for families and schools across the country. A decade and more than 60,000 fruit trees into the program, the momentum and results are still going strong! Over the years, we’ve heard from so many families who are making a majority of their income from our donated trees, as well as feeding their households.
This year, we had the pleasure of meeting Antonio Argueta, who serves as the president of the Adesco Family Farmers Coop (a participating coop in our program) in the town of Vista Hermos. Antonio previously received 40 fruit trees as part of the program and during a site visit, he proudly showed us that all 40 are doing great with a 100% success rate! Clearly, a fruitful future awaits Antonio and his family as he told us: “The dream is to fill this space with fruit trees. The trees from the foundation will do this and provide harvest for our families.”
FTPF is proud to have partner nurseries in the U.S., Uganda, El Salvador, Peru, and Brazil. Many of our large-scale programs use trees that are custom-grown in these nurseries, utilizing a great diversity of organic growing methods and tree types selected to thrive in upcoming project regions. Trees are grown anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the variety. In fact, as you read this, tens of thousands of baby fruit trees have already been planted and are steadily growing towards our 2023 initiatives.
One of our partner nursery managers in Uganda, the Honorable Edward Paul Munaaba, also a respected dignitary in the Busoga Kingdom, says this about the thousands of trees that will be used in our next project there in April 2023: “Our joint educational programs allow the community to learn how to plant and take care of seedlings in the nursery, thereby empowering themselves while allowing other families to have access to the free trees that grow there.” As is our motto at all our partner nurseries: “All for one and fruit trees for all!”
As an organization, our greatest joy is to see happy, healthy fruit trees serving communities and the ecosystems surrounding them. Most of our projects take place in the U.S., and it was our privilege to work with so many groups this year, from Los Angeles to New York, Indiana to Houston, and so many places in between where food banks, public parks, and schools all have new orchards as part of their ‘fruiture.’ We also regularly check in with past orchard caretakers to hear their joyful updates, and we are excited to share a few of these with you so you can see exactly how you are making a difference each and every time you support our work (many more examples can be found on our social media sites throughout the year).
Orchard update: “We are very much enjoying the orchard this year. I am using it as a place for outdoor learning with my classes and it brings the children so much joy to pick apples and pears and be able to eat them right there under the tree. The orchard is certainly a big part of the student's lives here at Midvale and we are so thankful for the trees that we have." –Daniel Liberatore, teacher at Midvale Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin where we planted an orchard in 2007
Orchard update: "The urban orchard at the Village Market Place Community Food Hub provides fresh good food for our neighbors, and inspires our community to grow food for themselves and their community.” –Heather Fenney, co-executive director of Paul Robeson Community Wellness Center in Los Angeles (where they have reported 100% tree survival, with trees already producing between 10-30 pounds of fruit per tree since our planting in 2018)
Orchard update: "The establishment of our school orchard brought our community together to dig holes and plant trees—and with each tree, love, hope and community were planted as well. To watch our little trees grow stronger and taller, and to blossom and bear fruit, is to watch our community grow and blossom as one. Furthermore, to see the children delight with wonder and joy, for each new flower, berry and fruit, is incredible. This grant brought us an orchard that will grow and produce fruit, plus so much more, for generations to come.” –Jenny Woods, teacher at Camellia Waldorf School in Sacramento
We are excited to report that in 2022, we planted and distributed 37,236 fruit trees in six countries (United States, Uganda, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, and Peru.) These are the numbers that serve as powerful reminders of why we are all committed to this important work together. Twenty years of results like these are a great start, yet we are always looking for the next year to be even more fruitful in order to reach even more families in need—and we need your help. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we ask you to consider sponsoring at least 20 trees in our international programs by clicking here to donate a hundred dollars or more.
With new programs being launched next year, including in Honduras and with several Native American nations, we need your support now more than ever. Every year, we remind our community volunteers that once we plant trees together, we are friends for life—and we are so grateful to have made so many friends this year. We know this is true for those who support our programs in other ways as well, including our donors, who make all this work possible in the first place. We are so very grateful to have you as a friend for life and hope you’ll consider sponsoring at least 20 trees by making a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more this holiday season by clicking here.
Please donate today knowing that for the twelfth year in a row, more than 90 cents of every dollar contributed was used in our life-sustaining tree planting programs.
For a greener, cleaner, healthier planet,
Cem Akin, TreeEO & Co-creator