“We plant trees for peace and food justice,” says Mallika Nair, who started the Oakland organization Growing Together in 2013. The group plants fruit trees throughout the city, especially in East Oakland and other underserved areas. “The bigger goal,” says Nair, “is to reforest the city.”
Growing Together has planted more than 450 fruit trees in assorted varieties—apple, pear, lemon, orange, fig, cherry, pineapple guava, pomegranate, and more. They collaborate with community organizations, nonprofits, schools, and individual residents and property owners to create a design and then plant between four and 30 trees per site. This spring, planting events will be held at Hoover Elementary, Bunche Continuation School, Castlemont High School, and other spots. Volunteers are welcome to help with the plantings and with ongoing care of the trees.
“We’re bringing the sacred back into this act,” says Nair, who in September organized the planting and dedication of 100 trees for peace. Growing Together also works with the North Oakland Restorative Justice Council and local community members to create ceremonial fruit tree plantings that commemorate those lost to violence.
If you’d like to volunteer or help organize a planting that supports a low-income Oakland neighborhood, please get in touch. The group also plans to relaunch its fruit-harvesting program this spring in partnership with the gleaning organization Urban Farmers. Contact Growing Together if you have a tree with extra fruit or want to help with harvesting.