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School district says no to fruit trees

Visiting ecology group plants shade instead

San Diego Union, February 23, 2005

Johnny Appleseed apparently can't be trusted in San Diego.

A caravan of earth-loving ecology educators launched a statewide fruit tree-planting tour at Clark Middle School in City Heights yesterday.

Traveling in 30-year-old school buses that have been hand-painted and run on vegetable oil, the environmentalists will visit 20 cities and plant 1,000 fruit trees in hopes of teaching urban students about sustainable ecology and the benefits of eating locally grown food.

But San Diego students will get shade instead of fruit.

The San Diego Unified School District is the only district on the tour to put the kibosh on the fruit trees. Administrators worried students would use the peaches, guavas and plums as weapons instead of food.

"Fruit trees create more of a mess, and fruit does tend to be used as a projectile with students," said district maintenance and operations supervisor Mark Everts. "This is precautionary. We've never had fruit trees planted at a school."

Although fruitless, the show went on yesterday. Musicians beat on African drums and loose-limbed dancers performed for students to demonstrate how various cultures honor the earth and its bounty.

Then students planted flowering jacaranda trees, New Zealand Christmas trees and other nonthreatening, nonfruit-bearing trees.

Organizers didn't let the setback or the rainy weather dampen their upbeat message. But the irony was not lost, either.

"The idea of seeing fruit as something to throw is indicative of . . . a problem," said Michael Flynn, education director for the nonprofit Common Vision.


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Last modified: February 24, 2005

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