Why have a fruit tree project at all? Here are some of the reasons we’re inspired to organize this project:
Fun – As every young child knows who’s granted the opportunity, picking fruit is a blast. Stuffing your face with berries, climbing trees, watching butterflies. It sure beats sitting around inside watching television.
Cost – Fruit doesn’t come cheap, especially if you’re buying organic. Yet there’s an abundance of free, unsprayed fruit all over town, waiting for us to pick it. We save even more making our own preserves, wines, vinegars, and dried fruits, and using some of these home-made gems as birthday or holiday gifts.
Sustainability – Modern industrial agriculture is an ecological catastrophe, causing massive habitat loss, algae blooms and “dead zones” in the oceans, and the buildup of persistent toxins in the food web. It also consumes vast amounts of oil for the creation of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, for fueling farm equipment (whose emissions are largely unregulated), and for long-distance shipping and refrigeration. To reverse our destructive course and prepare for a world of increasing scarcity and higher food prices, it is essential for us to develop local food production systems.
Health – As we all know, fresh vegetables and fruits are key parts of a healthy diet. We hope this project can help make fresh fruits available to some who otherwise wouldn’t have them, or who typically buy fruit sprayed with dangerous pesticides, and picked before it ripens. We’re also very concerned about the health of farmworkers and their children, and hope our small group is part of a broader social shift away from a food system relying on toxic chemicals and exploited workers.
Community – It’s a strange paradox of modern life that while there are more people than ever before, actual human interactions are disappearing as we travel in our personal vehicles, shop with automatic check-outs, and entertain ourselves with televisions and computers. We’d rather be out meeting new folks as we walk or bike around picking fruit, and work together to share skills and make useful products for our families.
Human Rights – Agriculture is a huge part of the global economy. Indeed, the trade of bananas and other fruits has been so lucrative that its proceeds have propped up dictatorial regimes; hence the phrase “banana republic”. In fact, when the democratically-elected president of Guatemala challenged the corruption of the United Fruit Company in 1953, the CIA backed his overthrow in a coup, setting the stage for the longest and bloodiest civil war in modern Latin American history. As recently as 2007 United Fruit–now called Chiquita–was exposed for once again funding death squads and assassinations, this time in Colombia.
Even where such extreme abuses do not exist, huge banana and other tropical fruit plantations contribute to deforestation, and rely on massive applications of pesticides, poisoning their workers and often entire villages (through water contamination). We hope that by demonstrating the fun and economic value of doing things for ourselves, we can help create a new trajectory towards a world where no one has to die for our breakfast.
We’re Not The Only Ones Working To Rescue Fruit!
We have a growing list of friends (organizations) in other communities that are working on projects very similar to the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project!